IOCFSPD – Session 3 -keynote address and presentations

Lamine Diack, health system President of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) shared his personal experience with sport in his keynote address. 

General Lassana Palenfo, IOC Member, Member of the IOC International Relations Commission, gives the first presentation, worried that the minutes he has are not enough for a large topic like the one he wants to approach: The Olympic Movement driving the social and development agenda. He is saying that the IOC is becoming more powerful in promoting their triad of sport, peace and development and is congratulating the IOC for its successes such as those in Darfur. Unfortunately, he doesn’t elaborate so it’s difficult to know which are the successes he’s making reference to. The Olympic Movement is a social force that should and is focusing on the future not the past.

His definition of sport and role in Africa in particular very touching and idealistic. Sport intervenes in sectors such as tourism too so its power should not be neglected. It also intervenes in the process of democratisation. However sport is not a panacea but can have a lot of positive effects. Sport can unite people divided my politics and bring together groups marginalized due to disease, lack of resouces. Sport builds bridges and relationships. It can also reduce the negative effects of poverty. Sport has a catalyzing role. Sports activities also help the economy  – money coming from factories producing sports equipment. The international community should therefore contribute to the development of sport for all these reasons and the political leaders should actively endorse such activities and so should governments. 

Jerome Champagne, Director of FIFA, speaks about the contribution of football to grass-roots development starting by arguing that grass-roots is not only local and that, furthermore, it can have many facets. He continues by saying that there are two different levels of development: of football and through football that can affect the individual, local communities and nations. At the individual level the development is done through education while at the community level investments into the football infrastructure, systems is needed and FIFA, as he says, does just that. Finally, the national level when developed properly has a huge impact at a local/community level. 

He mentions the first time ever award of the FIFA World Cup organization to an African country. He says is all in spirit of fair-play and equal chances, and is in line with FIFAs development actions. He also mentions some of the partnerships FIFA has that he stresses make FIFA actions “child labour” proof. Football for World and StreetFootball, two FIFA initiatives supported and organized by local people. Mr Champagne reminds listeners that FIFA agreed,in accordance to UN regulation, to donate every year 0.7% of its profits to CSR causes. There is some movement in the room, calling the percentage very small, and comparing it to the percentage of tax that an individual has to pay towards the state where they reside. 

A sport that doesn’t protect and promote peace, he says, has no value nor impact on development. 

Now about the African Union Perspective from Dr Johan Strijdom from the Department of Social Affairs of the African Union Commission. His presentation in a nutshell: the AUC is strongly committed to the Olympic values. 

Brend Espeland, Acting Chief of the Australian Sports Commission, closed the session 3 presentations with “The Oceania Experience – a Holistic Approach”. An interesting point – prioritizing relationships mentioning that it is not important just to have the relationships (with other groups, organism, people) but using them at the right time. He also says that in sports promotion people should start building on what works based on what exists. It’s a sensible point that emphasizes the need of using the resources given and communicating with local groups and communities using their culture as common ground rather than pushing something that is new and might be rejected by them. The idea is that in this way regional sport could, in time, be integrated in mainstream activities. 

The common element of all presentations today seems to be the agreement of all speakers that sport (and mainly organized sport) has plenty of positive effects. What few are saying (it was mentioned just once) is related to the negative effects of sport when used to push violence and emphasize rivalries as well as the ways to prevent that from happening.

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