Finland hosts 13th World Sport for All Congress
Today, the 13th World Sport for All Congress kicked off in Jyväskylä, Finland. During the next three days, experts from different fields will share experiences and the latest findings in promoting sport for everyone. Organised by the LIKES Research Centre and the University of Jyväskylä, the event is hosted by the Finnish Olympic Committee under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Sportaccord/GAISF.
During the Opening Ceremony on Monday evening, IOC President Jacques Rogge said: “We have come to Finland with a sense of urgency to deal with an issue that affects the lives and health of people of all ages around the world. At our last Congress in Malaysia, we urged governments and public authorities at all levels to make sport and physical activity a key element of health policy. Two years later, the need for action is even more apparent. The WHO reports that 60 per cent of the world’s population fails to get the necessary amount of physical activity.”
Finland, however, is “a country where sport is indeed for all” as Roger Talermo, President of the Finnish Olympic Committee stated during the Opening of the Congress and, as such, turns out to be the perfect host. Talermo elaborated: “We have around 9000 sports clubs and over 4 million regular practitioners of sports and physical activity. This group represents over 90% of our population of 5.3 million. Finns live longer and better lives and they generate some of the world's best athletes in many Olympic disciplines. We are proud of these accomplishments and we are now happy to share our insights and learn more from all of those in the Olympic Movement committed, like us, to the promotion of sport for all.”
The Congress is bringing together representatives from the Olympic family, specialised NGOs, researchers, governments and UN bodies who discuss customised programmes, strategies and policies to promote Sport for All among the different age groups.
Rogge stressed: “Humans need physical activity to thrive. Far too many children have little opportunity for sport, exercise or outdoor play. We can see the results in the rising rates of youth obesity and diabetes.” He added: “However, whilst we often focus on young people, we must not forget about the other age groups. Physical activity is important for all generations and this notion is reflected in the programme of this Sport for All Congress. The upcoming Olympic Day on 23 June will be the next opportunity to encourage all age groups to get moving.”
The IOC President appealed to the Congress participants to build synergies in their activities: “Clearly, we have to do more to get people moving. That is why we are here. The work of this Congress and the Sport for All Commission derives from the core mission of the International Olympic Committee. The IOC exists to place sport at the service of humanity.”
Paavo Komi, Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, expects tangible results of the event: “This congress will issue a final declaration. We are all anxious to hear what the main outcomes of this congress are in terms of priorities. We also need to decide how the key messages are communicated. We need to propose a strategy for spreading the word.”