On Friday, November 4, 2016, Joël Bouzou, founder of the Monaco-based organisation Peace and Sport, began a press conference with a minute’s silence in honour of Guo Chuan, an Ambassador for Peace and Sport (PaS), who died at sea the week before. The 51-year-old was on a solo voyage from San Francisco to Shanghai as part of a round the world trip that would have been the first completed by a Chinese national, when he was reported missing off Hawaii.
Mr Bouzou, a Modern Pentathlon Olympic Medallist, continued the morning alongside Laurent Dupont, Managing Director (PaS); Dan Luger, Champion for Peace, and Lionel Zetter, Director of The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS), an official partner of PaS as of Friday.
Discussing the mission of PaS as a way to use sport to speak to countries in conflict, Mr Bouzou stated that sport is not a question of money but a desire that a responsible government can adapt to make sport available to the public. There was a heart-warming video presentation of the 7th Edition of the Friendship Games, which took place in Rwanda October 14-16 with French rugby great and Champion for Peace Jean-François Tordo.
This led into the of this year’s conference – Game on for Peace: Mobilising Global Change through Sport. The 9th annual Peace and Sport Forum and Awards held under the high patronage of HSH Prince Albert II, will run November 23-25 at the Grimaldi Forum.
A special appeal was made to everyone to participate in the annual March for Peace at 5:30 pm on November 23. The walk will begin at the Monte-Carlo Opera terrace and finish at the Fairmont, where there will be giant group “white card” photo before the Opening Ceremony.
Over 500 leading figures from the worlds of sport, politics, academia, the private sector and civil society, will gather to discuss “how sport can help to foster sustainable peace and forge agents of change committed to act for a better, fairer and more united world”. This will transpire over five plenary sessions, four workshops and two galas awarding nine prizes.
Speakers include five-time Olympian and Olympic silver medallist, Charmaine Crooks (Athletics, Canada), IOC member, double Olympian and former President of Hungary, Pal Schmitt (Fencing, Hungary), three-time Olympic marathon runner and Chef de Mission of the 2016 Refugee Olympic Team, Tegla Loroupe (Athletics, Kenya) and triple Olympian, Aya Medani (Modern Pentathlon, Egypt).
A special announcement was also made that Nobel Peace Prize winner will be attending, “but for security reasons the name cannot be released”.
“Sport is a powerful and proven peace-building tool” and as such, the 2016 Forum will address five “starter themes” to initiate debate, which include sports diplomacy, sport legacy, gender equity in sport, social integration of refugees, and the digital era.
For Monegasques, the forum is free to attend but you need an accreditation pass, which can be obtained by registering online.
Other “fun” activities that Peace and Sport rely on for public support are the Touch Rugby and Volleyball at Larvotto Beach Wednesday, November 23 at 3 pm and the “I Move For Peace Run” with Elana Mayeh Thursday November 24 at 7 am. At 2 pm on Friday, November 25, there will be a screening of Speed Sisters, which won the Peace and Sport Documentary Prize at Sportel on October 27 in Monaco, and tells the story of the first all-women Palestinian team to participate in car races.
Peace and Sport is Monaco’s pride, an initiate felt across the globe, and supported by 85 Champions for Peace (with three more to be announced by year’s end). Attending this year’s Forum are Isaac Angbo (Judo, Côte d’Ivoire), Surya Bonaly (Figure Skating, France), Benjamin Boukpeti (Canoe Slalom, Togo), Tatiana Golovin (Tennis, France) Elana Meyer (Athletics, South Africa), Paula Radcliffe (Athletics, Great Britain) and Helena Suková (Tennis, Czech Republic).
As Mr Letter commented upon signing the partnership agreement with Mr Bouzou, “Sport does play a vital role in bringing people and nations close together. While Armenian and Azerbaijan forces were shooting at each other along the 130 km contact line in the west of Azerbaijan, their teams were competing in the European Games in Baku, in the spirit of sport’s strong and friendly competition. I’d like to think of this as an example of how sport can transcend hostility on many levels.”
READ MORE: Monaco runners “move for peace”
Article first published November 6, 2016.