Joël Bouzou was full of praise for his ambassadors at Peace and Sport ©Peace and Sport

Joël Bouzou, the President of Peace and Sport, has said that the athletes who join the project are the secret behind its success.

Speaking at the Peace and Sport Forum here, the Frenchman started by saying how pleased he was at the interest in his organisation.

"We are very happy to see media interest in what we are doing because you are able to dispatch the message we want to spread," he said.

He then started his appraisal of the Champions For Peace, a group of high level athletes who are "personally committed to the peace through sport movement".

They will all speak at various events at the Peace and Sport Forum.

"We are happy to see the quality of the speakers today," Bouzou, who won team Olympic bronze in modern pentathlon at Los Angeles 1984, said.

"We have people who are really connected to the ground, can speak about their experiences and be in contact with reality.

"The athletes are good role models and can drive children to join sport."

Hoewever, Bouzou also insisted that the champions do not have to be elite stars.

"You don't need to be an Olympic or world champion to be a role model, you can be the champion of the street," he added.

The Peace and Sport Forum is being held at the Monte-Carlo Sporting ©ITG
The Peace and Sport Forum is being held at the Monte-Carlo Sporting ©ITG

Bouzou has also indicated how certain champions are perfect for particular regions.

"If I go to the Ivory Coast and I come as Joël Bouzou the Olympic medallist, I do not think many will join sport," he said.

"But, if I come with Didier Drogba [the country's all-time leading scorer in football], a lot of them will do it."

Bouzou outlined the criteria for the champions but said that, although the organisation recruited some themselves, several athletes, including Drogba, volunteered their services to Peace and Sport.

"In the beginning, we started with a blank paper as we did not have anything on the ground," he said.

"What is important to say here is that the champions are pragmatic.

"They are big dreamers because you cannot become a champion if you do not dream to become a champion. 

"But, they are very pragmatic and realistic.

"So, to motivate a champion, you cannot make them simply dream of peace.

"You have to show them that, if they are involved, there will be results and, once the results start to come, they will become more motivated."

The Peace and Sport President added that legendary rugby union player Francois Pienaar, who was a symbol of unity in South Africa thanks to his work with Nelson Mandela, has recently joined Peace and Sport as a champion.

He also commented on the International Olympic Committee's decision to ban the Russian Olympic Committee from attending the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, due to a doping scheme.

"This does not concern Peace and Sport but I believe that clean athletes have the right to compete," Bouzou, also the World Olympians Association President, said.

"If you go to an Olympic Games, you can come back and inspire children.

"Olympians can drive children from the slums into sports clubs and they need role models for that.

"Blocking an athlete because others have made a tremendous mistake would, for me, be absolutely unfair.

"[However,] even neutral athletes have the ability to inspire children."