Secretary-General today called on countries to ensure that all individuals have the right to practice and play sports in a safe environment free of discrimination and prejudice.
“We have a collective responsibility to ensure that all people, regardless of gender, race, religion, ability or age, have the right to practice and play in safe environments free of stigma and prejudice,” Mr. Ban said in his remarks to the Fifth International Conference of Minister and Senior Officials Responsible for physical Education and Sport (MINEPS V), which kicked off today in Berlin, Germany.
“I have seen the positive value of sport in my travels around the world. At the same time, I am disturbed by incidents of harmful actions, such as violence, racism, cheating and match-fixing, that threaten to undermine the positive values and credibility of sport,” Mr. Ban said, in remarks delivered by his Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke. “We must work together to address these challenges.”
During the three-day conference, sport ministers from the majority of 195 member States of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), will discuss policy solutions to overcome the main challenges in physical education and sport today.
In his remarks, Mr. Ban stressed that children and girls in particular deserve to engage in sports under safe conditions. He added that adults must act as role models by using sport to promote democratic values and principles such as fair play, inclusion and dedication to the common good.
“Sport, physical activity and play are outstanding tools to support peace and development, integrate marginalized and disadvantaged groups, promote gender equality and foster a more inclusive society for persons with disabilities,” Mr. Ban said.
The Secretary-General added that he hoped the conference would encourage sport governing bodies to intensify their efforts to eradicate all forms of discrimination.
Throughout the conference, which was jointly organized by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior and UNESCO, with the support of the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education, three topics will be the main focus of participants: access to sport as a fundamental right for all, promoting investment in sport and physical education programmes, and preserving integrity in sport.
Researchers, national sport ministries and practitioners will also take part in a poster exhibition, displaying the work and focus areas of the Sport for Development and Peace International Working Group.