28 June 2010Youngsters from more than 50 countries have joined the recently retired French tennis ace Fabrice Santoro in Paris for the annual Open des Jeunes-BNP Paribas Cup, a tournament co-organized by the United Nations for young players age 12 to 14 that will also touch on themes such as doping, sustainable development and world heritage. This is the eighth year that the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is helping to organize the two-week event, which is considered the “young people’s Roland Garros,” referring to the Grand Slam tournament held annually in the French capital. Mr. Santoro is serving as patron.Players and visitors will be able to take part in interactive workshops conducted by UNESCO youth, sport and physical education specialists on issues at the heart of the agency’s work, including doping, sustainable development, world heritage and rapprochement of cultures. “These workshops are designed to raise awareness among young people and to give athletic ambition an educational and cultural dimension essential for physical and moral growth,” the agency noted in a news release.‘Sport and attitude’ is the theme of the UNESCO space at the tournament, which is designed to inspire young athletes to think about the values around sport as well as the practice of sport. “An effective fight against doping is possible only if young athletes are aware of the values inherent in sport – fair play, honesty, dignity, respect and team spirit,” stated the agency.“The UNESCO space will give young players the opportunity to experience cultural diversity, promote sustainable development and become aware of action they can take in their everyday life,” it added.Earlier this year UNESCO, in close partnership with the football club FC Barcelona, launched the anti-racism campaign entitled “Putting Racism Offside.” It is one of several initiatives by the agency aimed at highlighting the link between sport and major issues within society. It also promotes its ideals through its distinguished roster of UNESCO Champions for Sport, which include German Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher, three-time World Cup winner and Brazilian football legend Edson Arantes do Nascimento (also known as Pelé), and Belgian Olympic women’s tennis and Grand Slam champion Justine Henin. Champions for Sport are expected to spread the message of UNESCO around the world, especially the values of physical education and sports and how they can help build a better future for younger generations.