Interview: Spirit of solidarity urgently needed before Olympics, says UN chief

XINHUA — The Olympic spirit, which represents a spirit of solidarity, is urgently needed for the international community to address the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Xinhua in a written interview on Friday.

The Olympics and Paralympics send a fantastic message of “peace and of mutual respect between people of all cultures, all civilizations and all ethnicities,” said Guterres, days before his trip to China to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics.

It is necessary to shine a light on the Olympic spirit, which also means mutual understanding, tolerance, respect and dialogue, said Guterres, adding that the spirit “is very much in line with the values of the UN.”

The spirit is “absolutely essential” to face increasing xenophobia and racism, spreading white supremacy, rising geopolitical tensions, and the unacceptable ways that migrants and refugees are being treated, he said.

Unity and solidarity are especially important during the pandemic, said the UN chief, noting that developing countries are in need of vaccines and financial help. He also urged developed countries to help those who are most vulnerable.

Commenting on the Global Development Initiative put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping last year, Guterres said that China’s experience of lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty can provide valuable lessons to other developing countries.

“I sincerely hope that this initiative will provide an opportunity to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals globally and especially in other developing countries,” he said.

As the Chinese New Year is approaching, Guterres also extended his wishes to the Chinese people for the Lunar New Year of the Tiger.

“The tiger denotes strength, vitality, courage, tenacity, and boldness. These are qualities we need as we face the unprecedented challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis,” he said.

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