On 18 October 2020, the courtyard of the SCO Secretariat was transformed into a large green garden where there was a gathering of ambassadors and diplomats from the SCO member states, observer states and SCO dialogue partners, from the European Union countries and the Arab League, as well as heads of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, China's SCO Committee on Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation, plus representatives of research, creative and business circles, and the media that took part in the coverage of SCO cultural and sports events in 2020-2021.
The guests ran a symbolic marathon mile, thus kicking off the SCO Running Group project.
The presentation began with a spectacular performance by the creative group of the Blue Sky kindergarten.
During the event, the 5th SCO Kunming Marathon, the SCO Running Group, an SCO boxing tournament took place, and an exhibition of paintings by children from the SCO member states was held.
In his remarks, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov noted that these events are aimed, first of all, at strengthening friendship between peoples.
Referring to the marathon, he said that over the past four years, the Kunming Marathon had brought together over 80,000 participants from various countries and continents, and had become an important factor for integration between peoples, as well as cultural exchanges and cooperation.
Its status as an international athletic competition is also being strengthened. Last March, World Athletics awarded the SCO Kunming Marathon with the silver label, which proves the marathon's popularity and compliance with international standards.
The Secretary-General reminded the audience that SCO marathons have also been held in other SCO member states, including in Astana, Kazakhstan, in June 2017. In May 2019, the Kyrgyz Republic hosted the SCO Issyk-Kul marathon.
In the Joint Declaration, adopted following the Bishkek summit in June 2019, the SCO member states praised the holding of the SCO marathons and spoke in favour of holding them on a regular basis to deepen the friendship and mutual understanding between SCO peoples, and to contribute to positioning the SCO on the global stage.
"This year, given the epidemiological situation, the SCO Secretariat and the People's Government of the Yunnan Province decided to hold the 5th Kunming Marathon on 6 December in an online format. Professional and amateur runners from all countries will be able to take part in the marathon using a special app that will be available in Chinese, Russian and English," Mr Norov said. The SCO Running Group is a small marathon for up to 200 people. According to the
Secretary-General, with the pandemic continuing in many countries, this small number of participants is quite optimal.
At the same time as the SCO Secretariat presentation, Chengdu Sport University (Sichuan Province) organised a small SCO Running Group event bringing together the leadership of the university, marathon champions, athletes and university students.
The SCO Secretary-General noted the importance of the exhibition of children's paintings devoted to the theme of unity in combatting the pandemic and the protection of the common home, organised by the All-China Women's Federation, the SCO Committee on Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation and the SCO Secretariat. The exhibition reflects the essence of cooperation and mutual support among SCO member states during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Secretary-General, participants in the exhibition not only covered the issue of fighting the virus, but also the ideas of peace, friendship, mutual support and striving for development. "All these values are the foundation of the Shanghai spirit. I am happy to see that from an early age, the younger SCO generation shares the principles of mutual support and calls for solidarity. All countries in the world are now connected with each other, and the key to the victory over the virus that does not know boundaries is solidarity and cooperation," Mr Norov said.
During the presentation, 15 participants in the exhibition were presented certificates.
Students from Beijing Sport University also performed tai chi and the Baduanjin exercises during the presentation.
Stating that deeper understanding between peoples, stronger knowledge of each other and rapprochement of the national cultures are among the SCO's priorities Vladimir Norov pointed out the success of the Yoga and Tai Chi Day held in Xian in September 2020, which received a broad and favourable public response. In his view Yoga and tai chi have been improving human nature from times immemorial, giving it stamina, balance and optimism. Yoga and tai chi have much in common: they are not only recreational gymnastics but also a kind of teaching based on Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Building up spiritual and physical health is
becoming especially relevant for defeating our common enemy COVID-19.
In this context the Secretary-General expressed appreciation to Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of India to China Mr Vikram Misri for initiating the Yoga Day at the SCO Secretariat, as part of this presentation, and carried out in the form of a Yoga lesson involving all guests and Yoga experts.
Ambassador of India to China Vikram Misri stated that India's relations with "the SCO Family" date back centuries and even millennia in some cases. These ties stem from a shared history and legacy, common traditions and cultures as well as shared ideas and interests. These centuries-old ties allow SCO members and their peoples throughout the entire region to share and benefit from their cultural achievements, be it in cinema, music, art or Yoga. "Today's presentation on Yoga@SCO is especially relevant as it goes beyond race, skin colour, faith, religion and region. Yoga brings people together around the world. Recent years have seen an explosion in its popularity, especially since 2014, when the UN General Assembly adopted a unanimous resolution designating 21 June as the International Day of Yoga. Today's event is yet another indication of Yoga's global appeal. It is a part of India's contribution to strengthening cultural cooperation among SCO countries and its contribution to a better understanding of each other's cultural heritage," stressed the Indian Ambassador.
Chair of China's SCO Committee on Good-Neighbourliness, Friendship and Cooperation Ms Cui Li noted the importance of holding and promoting sport and cultural events as a locomotive of unity and cohesion among the SCO nations in the face of emerging challenges. Specifically, she underscored the award of the World Athletics silver label to Kunming Marathon: "It was a result of the adherence to the ‘Shanghai spirit' and the implementation of understandings between heads of state and all-round support for all SCO member countries. It was also evidence of the SCO Family's continuous development. She believed that another important way of supporting the struggle against the pandemic was the online display of children's pictures devoted to the topic of unity in combatting the pandemic and the protection of the common home.
Chair of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries Lin Songtian underlined the SCO's special mission of maintaining peace and stability in the region and the entire world.
Speaking of the Kunming Marathon, Lin Songtian emphasised that by attracting more and more participants the event was strengthening cultural exchanges and cohesion between the member states.
He expressed readiness to keep on promoting partnership with the SCO Secretariat in the field of people-to-people exchanges between the member states with a view to establishing international relations of a new type, based on cooperation and mutual benefit.
The Presentation was attended by the ambassadors of India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Nepal, Turkmenistan, Egypt, Qatar, Palestine and Bulgaria to the PRC, Permanent representatives of the SCO member States to the SCO Secretariat, heads Of the Chinese people's society for friendship with foreign countries, the Chinese SCO Committee on good neighborliness, friendship and cooperation, representatives of expert, creative and business circles, as well as the SCO youth platform-SCOLAR, and students of The secondary school at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in the PRC.
The event attracted the attention of more than 30 media outlets.
The event was held with the Assistance of the Embassy of India in China, partners of the SCO Secretariat for cultural and humanitarian cooperation-Shanghai Art Fair International Exhibition and Yunnan Shanghe Culture and Sport.