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Sport and Recreation Minister Fikile Mbalula used Olympic Day celebrations in Ivory Park on Saturday – organised by theSouth African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) in conjunction with the City of Johannesburg – to warn sportspeople about the dangers of substance abuse.

Speaking at the Kopanong Sports Centre, Minister Mbalula said substance abuse and “reckless indulgence in sexual activities” posed the greatest threat to a “complete and fulfilled life”.

Olympic Day is an event celebrated throughout the world by more 170 National Olympic Committees.

This year’s theme was: “To Move, Learn and Discover Through and Beyond Sport."

The purpose of this international day is to promote the mass participation of youth in sporting activities.

The Minister told the throngs of youths who packed the hall that there could be nothing better than living a good and healthy life.

“To achieve that, we must make sporting activities part of our daily lives,” he said. “Importantly, we must stop looking up to thugs as our role models. The youth must stay away from [mind-altering] substances because [they], together with the reckless indulgence in sexual activities, will destroy your life.

"You will not have a future to look forward to because it will have been taken away from you by these evil things.”

The minister warned girls to “stay away from sex before the time is right” – when they reached adulthood.

“You must have pride in your body. Refuse to have unprotected sex. No condom, no sex,” he said.

Among the events staged to mark the day were 8km and 5km walks, gymnastics, netball, karate and a five-a-side football match.

South Africa’s Commonwealth Games triple jump silver medalist and 2014 Diamond League Long jump champion Khotso Mokoena encouraged the youth “to take sport seriously”.

“Work at your natural gift to realise your full potential,” Mokoena said.

Other Commonwealth medallists who graced the occasion included boxer Thulani Mbenge and Eastern Cape judo ace Siyabulela Mabulu.

In a statement of support for the event, Gauteng’s MEC for Sport and Recreation Molebatsi Frances Bopape welcomed the decision to hold the celebrations in a community such as that of Ivory Park.

“[This] affirms the seriousness of ensuring that development in sport reaches everyone,” Bopape said.