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Volleyball joins the international movement to play it clean and kick tobacco out of sports

Tobacco Free Volleyball will join forces with Tobacco Free Football and Tobacco Free Olympics as part of the worldwide movement to rid sport of all association with tobacco. The World Health Organization is teaming up with the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) as part of WHO’s Tobacco Free Sports Initiative. The announcement will be made during the World No Tobacco Day celebrations, to be held on 31 May in Geneva, Switzerland.

31 May will also kick off of the world’s first Tobacco Free World Cup in the Republic of Korea and Japan. The Tobacco Free Sports message will reverberate in every country in the world in television public service announcements and signs and posters in the stadia, as billions watch their favorite teams compete at the World Cup.

''Sports and tobacco do not mix. We have a common goal: that all sports be free from tobacco,'' said Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director-General, World Health Organization. "FIVB’s support is a significant step towards achieving this goal and we congratulate them on joining in on this important public health initiative. By going tobacco free sports federations, teams, organizers and athletes are ending the positive associations between sport and tobacco and delivering the message that tobacco kills."

FIVB is the official body that governs, manages and communicates volleyball around the world. Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, it is one of the world’s largest sports federations with more than 33 million licensed players affiliated federations in 217 countries on 5 continents. As part of its cooperation with WHO, upcoming games in Montreux, Switzerland as well as the FIVB Women's World Championships, to be held in Germany, 30 August-15 September 2002, will be tobacco free. There will be no tobacco use among spectators; no sales or distribution of tobacco products; and no tobacco advertising, promotion or sponsorship of teams, players, or venues.

"We are confident that our major international competitions in Volleyball and Beach Volleyball, and particularly our 2002 World Championships, have the power and the means to help spread the message that the use of tobacco and its health risks are completely incompatible with sport," said FIVB President Dr Rubén Acosta. "Volleyball provides millions of people all over the world with fun, athleticism and exciting competition. We believe it is very important to join forces with WHO to make sure those people hear and understand the tobacco-free message."

Tobacco advertising and sponsorship of sports twist reality to sell death as life, disease as health, and deadly addiction as the taste of freedom. Companies pump enormous sums into advertising and sponsoring sports events worldwide. In the U.S. alone, major domestic cigarette companies reported spending US$ 113.6 million on sports and sporting events in 1999.

Tobacco companies cynically mock national advertising bans by advertising and sponsoring popular international sports events whose images are transmitted by satellite television, internet and international press. Flouting rising concern and public outrage around the world, tobacco companies continue to manipulate images of top international athletes and events to sell their deadly products. Examples include football in Malaysia and Uganda; snooker, golf and rugby in the UK; badminton and motorbike racing in Indonesia; tennis in Canada and Formula One Racing in countries around the world.

For more information on FIVB, visit www.fivb.org. For more information on Tobacco Free Sports, visit www.who.int/tobacco

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For more information contact:

Ms Helen Green
Telephone: +41 (22) 791 3432
Mobile phone: +41 (79) 475 5572
Fax: +41 (22) 791 4832
E-mail: greenh@who.int