The Minsk European Games Organizing Committee (MEGOC) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have signed a memorandum of understanding on 12 March. The ceremony took place at BelTA's press center on 12 March. The MEGOC is busy with attracting partners at the national and international levels with the view to developing and promoting the positive image of the games in Belarus and beyond its borders, attracting public attention to the games, enhancing qualifications of volunteers of the forthcoming multi-sport forum.
The memorandum of understanding with UNAIDS is aimed at strengthening cooperation in promoting safe and healthy lifestyles, eliminating all forms of discrimination and preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS through the educational and humanitarian heritage of the 2nd European Games. The parties will carry out a wide range of activities that will contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, enhancing the partnership with the UN in Belarus, eliminating all forms of discrimination, and ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
According to UNAIDS Country Manager for Belarus Vera Ilyenkova, there are plans to train volunteers and specialists in HIV express testing of participants of the games and the audiences. Campaigns will be held to support people with HIV and other targeted groups. Fan zones will allocate sites for HIV express testing and self-testing. Contraceptives and information materials will be distributed free of charge. Screens will be showing video clips about the activities of the organization.
“I am confident that our partnership will contribute to the global effort to stop the AIDS epidemic by 2030. We will cooperate with athletes and coaches so that the sports community could protect themselves and their loved ones from HIV infection, and also with fans. Sports competitions are an excellent chance to reach out on the need for preventive measures,” she said, adding that this June marks 15 years since the similar memorandum was signed with the International Olympic Committee.
CEO of the Minsk European Games Organizing Committee (MEGOC) George Katulin thanked the partners for promoting the idea of equal opportunity sports and HIV prevention. According to him, the memorandum with UNAIDS is not the first program of cooperation conducted by Belarus within the UN framework. A similar agreement has also been concluded with the UNICEF.
UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus Joanna Kazana-Wisniowiecki congratulated Belarus on the initiative to host the European Games and expressed confidence that this event would contribute to bigger tourist flows to the country and its economic development. “Sport is very important for peaceful cooperation and gender equality. We are joining the European Games to talk more about the principles of sustainable development,” she said.