Switzerland's former defence and sport minister, Adolf Ogi, has been named as the United Nations special adviser for the development of sport and peace.
The UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, issued a statement on Wednesday appointing Ogi. He will have the task of meeting world sports leaders "to promote support and understanding for the work and ideals of the UN," said the statement.
Ogi will be Annan's special envoy in the sporting world. Ogi told swissinfo, "I will represent the Secretary General at sport related conferences and in contact wih the Sports media. I will certainly visit important games and important sports events."
The new envoy will also explore potential cooperation accords between sporting bodies and the UN, according to the statement.
The appointment comes two months after Ogi - a keen sportsman - retired from Swiss politics after 13 years in cabinet. "It really is a surprise for me." Ogi said in an interview with swissinfo.
Ogi was rumoured to be seeking a sports and an international post following his retirement. He knows Annan well, having invited him on a hiking trek in Switzerland last year
Coinciding with the UN announcement, it was also disclosed that the Swiss Olympic Federation is backing Ogi as a candidate for membership of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The Swiss Olympic Federation - of which Ogi is honorary president - confirmed on Wednesday that it had put Ogi forward as a candidate for IOC membership.
Federation boss, Marco Blatter, said Ogi had a good chance of securing a seat, even though Switzerland is already over-represented, with five members on the committee.
Ogi confirmed his interest in joining the Lausanne-based sports body in a newspaper interview on Wednesday.
He said he had entertained hopes of joining the IOC as long ago as 1988, but his candidature had not been pursued because no vacant seat was available at the time.
swissinfo with agencies