The Winter Olympics has provided opportunities for the world to unite and address some of the shared global challenges such as climate change and the inequalities brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The Game, which officially kicked off in Beijing on Friday, gathered about 170 official representatives from nearly 70 countries and international organizations, including more than 30 heads of state and government, important royal family members and heads of international organizations.
The big event is sending a message to call on the international community to unite and keep solidarity, said Guterres at an interview with China Media Group (CMG) on Friday.
“It is an opportunity to see people from all over the world and with a strong message of unity and solidarity, explaining that we are only one humanity and we have only one planet. Exactly this message of unity [is important because] the world has been divided. Look, the virus has defeated the international community. We were not able to come together to defeat the virus,” said Guterres.
He pointed out that some country are still struggling in the battle with the pandemic and lack of resources to recover, which aggravated the world imbalance.
“Even today, in Africa, only probably 10 percent population is vaccinated. In my country (Portugal), 90 percent of the population was vaccinated. On the other hand, if one looks at the resources available for recovery, you have countries that have the capacity to print trillions, and you have developing countries in a very, very difficult situation. They are with huge debts, they have no financial resources, they cannot fight the COVID-19, they have no vaccines. Some of them, they cannot fight the COVID-19 and re-launch the economy and create jobs and improve the living conditions of their population. So the world became more unequal, inequalities are growing tremendously,” he said.
However, he said, the sporting event and the spirit of Olympics reminds the international community that we can overcome these difficulties as long as people around the world work together.
“And so these Olympic Games are exactly the moment in which we remind people, we cannot defeat the COVID-19 country by country, we need to come together as in the Games. We cannot defeat the climate change country by country, we need to come together as in the Games. And we cannot create justice and equality in the world, if you don’t simultaneously compete, but also live together, and enjoy this unity as it is possible in the Olympic Games. And I hope that this message will be understood. And I hope that these Games will contribute to a better world,” said the chief.
President Xi Jinping has championed China’s drive of getting 300 million people involved in winter sports. And Guterres said this Olympics truly attracted more people, not only Olympians but also ordinary people to enjoy winter sports.
“And then you [don’t just] have the athletes, but you have everybody that will be seeing, that will be living, that will be feeling the Olympic Games and this becomes a world event. It’s not only an event here in Beijing, it’s a world event. And it’s something that makes people enthusiastic everywhere, seeing their athletes, seeing their heroes, seeing the people they appreciate,” he said.