During a plenary meeting of its General Assembly, the United Nations (UN) adopted – by consensus – a resolution reaffirming the role of sport as a global accelerator of peace and sustainable development for all, and in building global resilience to address COVID-19.
Importantly, the resolution recognises the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on all aspects of sport, and encourages UN “Member States to include sport and physical activity in recovery plans post COVID-19, to integrate sport and physical activity into national strategies for sustainable development, taking note of the contributions sport makes to health, to promote safe sport as a contributor to the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities”.
The text also acknowledges the “importance of holistic approaches to health and well-being through regular physical activity, including sport and recreation, to prevent and control non-communicable diseases and promote healthy lifestyles, including through physical education”.
At the same time, the resolution acknowledges the Olympic Charter and the principle of non-discrimination, and “supports the independence and autonomy of sport as well as the mission of the International Olympic Committee in leading the Olympic Movement and of the International Paralympic Committee in leading the Paralympic Movement.”
The text also affirms “the invaluable contribution of the Olympic and Paralympic movements in establishing sport as a unique means for the promotion of peace and development, in particular through the ideal of the Olympic Truce, acknowledging the opportunities provided by past Olympic and Paralympic Games, including those held in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea, in 2018, as well as the Youth Olympic Games held in Lausanne, Switzerland, in 2020”.
The resolution welcomes “with appreciation all upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, in particular those to be held in Tokyo in 2021, in Beijing in 2022, in Paris in 2024, in Milano-Cortina, Italy, in 2026 and in Los Angeles, United States of America, in 2028, as well as the Youth Olympic Games to be held in Dakar in 2026,” and calls upon “future hosts of such Games and other Member States to include sport, as appropriate, in conflict prevention activities and to ensure the effective implementation of the Olympic Truce during the Games.”
The IOC President, Thomas Bach, said: “The IOC welcomes this resolution and thanks all UN Member States for their support. This is another expression of the excellent partnership between the UN, its Member States and the IOC which fully respects the autonomy and the political neutrality of the IOC. We also appreciate the great recognition of the positive role of sport for the post COVID-19 recovery. The IOC is grateful that our call to include sport in the post COVID-19 recovery plans of the UN Member States has been heard.”
The UN has long recognised the contribution of sport to development and peace; and the collaboration between the IOC and the UN has played a central role in promoting sport as a means of achieving the internationally agreed development goals. In 2015, sport was officially included in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and was called an “important enabler” to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new resolution calls sport once again “an enabler of sustainable development".
The resolution was tabled on the occasion of the General Assembly’s debate on the biennial report of the Secretary-General: “Sport: a global accelerator of peace and sustainable development for all”. Prepared in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the report highlights the important role of physical activity and sport in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on health and well-being. It also examines ways of building global resilience to counter future shocks through investment and innovation in sport and sport-related policies.