SOCHI, Russia, Feb. 6 (UPI) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Thursday praised efforts by the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations to bring about social change.
Ban addressed the IOC Session convened just ahead of the opening of the Winter Olympics in Russia. The IOC said it was the first time a U.N. secretary-general spoke to the group.
"Today I am in Sochi to witness countries uniting in a spirit of friendly competition and goodwill," Ban said.
Ban reiterated his call for a cease-fire from hostilities around the world at least during the Games, which formally begin Friday and run through Feb. 23.
"If [athletes] can [put aside differences] in Sochi's sporting arenas, leaders of fighters should do the same in the world's combat areas."
He called the United Nations and the IOC teammates working toward positive social change.
"That team -- the United Nations and the IOC -- are not competing on the ski slopes or skating rinks," Ban said. "We are joining our forces together for our shared ideals: sustainability, universality, solidarity, non-discrimination, the fundamental equality of all people."
IOC President Thomas Bach called Ban "a great friend of sport and an inspiring world leader who stands for the same values the IOC is embracing."
He added: "Sport is standing for respect and against any form of discrimination. In this respect we are teammates, and as you said, 'Olympic principles are United Nations principles.'"