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Officials say Sport is a ‘Human Right’ and a ‘Bridge to Equality’

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Members of the Rio 2016 Refugee Olympic Team. Photo: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil via Wikimedia Commons

Sport is a bridge to equality, integration and social inclusion, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strassbourg stressed on Wednesday by adopting a resolution with the aim of promoting access to sports for all.

“Sport is a human right” said Rapporteur Carmen Quintanilla in her report to the assembly. She called on the Parliamentarians “to lobby our governments and lobby our schools to promote sport” as IOC President Thomas Bach assured the Assembly of the IOC’s commitment to support the Member States in their efforts to realize the important goals of promoting integration and making sport accessible for all.

In his speech, Bach highlighted the fact that sport plays an important role for social cohesion by providing opportunities for people of different backgrounds to interact and exchange ideas: “Sport has the unique power to bring people together, regardless of background, gender, culture or belief. The Olympic Games Rio 2016 reminded us all of this great unifying power of sport. The best example of this was the participation of the first ever Refugee Olympic Team.”

In introducing the IOC President to the Assembly, PACE President Pedro Agramunt stressed that sport plays an important role in promoting and consolidating democratic values and fundamental rights in society, and highlighted the leadership of the IOC in the reform process of sports organizations. Earlier, President Agramunt welcomed President Bach in a private meeting. In their conversation, both Presidents agreed on the different roles of sport and politics in society. They underlined the shared values of the Council of Europe and the Olympic Movement as a strong foundation for cooperation on topics to which sport can contribute, as outlined in the resolution.

Dr. Bach also met Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, and his Deputy Secretary General, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni. They discussed questions of good governance and doping in sport. Both of them welcomed the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020 which directly address these topics. They also discussed the need for stronger coordination of the engagement of the governments within the World AntiDoping Agency (WADA). Mr Jagland and Ms Battaini-Dragoni agreed to follow up on the related proposals from the recent Olympic Summit. Bach was accompanied by IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Pâquerette Girard Zappelli who participated in a session on the implementation of good governance principles in sports organizations held by the Parliamentary Assembly’s Sub-Committee on Education, Youth and Sport.

This story first appeared in the blog, The Sport Intern. The editor is Karl-Heinz Huba of Lorsch, Germany. He can be reached at ISMG@aol.com. The article is reprinted here with permission of Huba.

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