In 2018, the United Nations for the first time reaffirmed the importance of sport as an enabler of sustainable development through a resolution. This was accompanied by a call to member states and other associations to further promote sport and its practice for the benefit of all.
Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the opportunities for sport worldwide and major sporting events such as World Championships and Olympic Games have had to be postponed, the UN has once again emphasised the importance of sport. It calls on member states to "include sport and physical activity in COVID-19 recovery plans, integrate sport and physical activity into national sustainable development strategies and promote safe sport as a contribution to the health and well-being of individuals and communities".
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In a report prepared in the context of the pandemic, the UN underlines the important role of physical activity and sport in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on health and well-being. The report also points out that while everyone is affected by the pandemic, not everyone is affected to the same extent. In particular, the pandemic will cause major problems for children, disabled people, the elderly, families and women. In the field of professional sport, for example, because the loss of income means that men's sport could now be given financial priority, which could worsen the income situation and training conditions of women.
As a lesson from the pandemic, and to enable sport to continue to flourish in times of crisis, the report argues for the expansion of advisory and technical support for the development of new forms of sport engagement, so that sport organisations can continue to be positive actors in the lives of young people in times of lockdown. International athletes, with their broad reach in times of crisis, can also help to maintain links with young people in order to continue to influence them positively. The effects of COVID-19, the report says, "increase the risk of leaving people behind".
In this respect, sport also stands for the preservation of global peace, with its worldwide networks and sporting competitions. The General Assembly confirms "the invaluable contribution of the Olympic and Paralympic movement in establishing sport as a unique means of promoting peace and development, in particular through the ideal of the Olympic Truce".
The IOC is also pleased about the recognition and welcomes the commitment: "We appreciate the great recognition of the positive role of sport in post COVID-19 recovery and the IOC is grateful that our call to integrate sport into the plans of the UN member states for the post COVID-19 period has been heard," said IOC President Thomas Bach.