International Day of Sport

"Recommends the establishment of an International Day of Sport...to advocate and celebrate the contributions to education, human development, healthy lifestyles and a peaceful world." - UN-IOC Sport for Development and Peace Forum Declaration (June 6, 2013)

Given this exciting recommendation from the UN-IOC Forum on June 6, 2013 for an International Day of Sport, looking back on initial concept paper from 2007 for an International Day of Sport drafted by Whitney Brown '08, Eli Wolff '00 and Professor Mary Hums (University of Louisville).

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF SPORT

"It is imperative that the program, institutional and advocacy initiatives that advance sport for development and peace during the International Year of Sport and Physical Education lead to sustained long-term effects within the United Nations and among Government, private sector and civil society partners." -Kofi Annan

In 2005, the United National General Assembly placed international issues related to sport as a priority by publishing resolution 58/5 entitled “Sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace”, thereby establishing the International Year of Sport and Physical Education (IYSPE 2005). This commitment encourages social mobilization and advocacy to “foster coordination and cooperation for a more systemic and coherent use of sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace” (United Nations 2005). Sport has traditionally had the unique ability to serve as a tool to unite all people, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. Sport encourages healthy lifestyle choices for youth, stimulates cross-cultural interactions for peace and conflict resolution, and cultivates safe, inclusive environments for marginalized global citizens. Many national and international organizations have given public accolades for the significance of sport for all. The official International Year of Sport and Physical Education website states:

Sport and physical education play a vital role at all levels of society. For the individual, sport enhances one’s personal abilities, general health and self-knowledge. On the national level, sport and physical education contribute to economic and social growth, improve public health, and bring different communities together. On the global level, if used consistently, sport and physical education can have a long-lasting positive impact on development, public health, peace and the environment. (United Nations 2005)

These statements and others enhance the role of sport in the development of healthy international communities and act as a unifier for many global issues.

Given this background, it seems credible to suggest the initiation of an International Day of Sport. The following points provide concrete justification for how an International Day of Sport would serve as a vehicle to promote health, education, development and peace for all:

(1) An International Day of Sport is essential to preserve and sustain the legacy of the United Nations’ International Year of Sport and Physical Education to ensure that the communities worldwide continue to consider sport’s vital role in social, political and cultural development.

(2) Although sport currently crosses international boundaries on a daily basis, an International Day uniquely devoted to the celebration of sport would provide a distinct forum for the international community to acknowledge and reflect on its role in civil society. A specific day would encourage nations to raise awareness about sport for development and address many important global issues.

(3) An International Day of Sport would encourage the infusion of sport into other International Days, including: International Women’s Day, International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, World Health Day, International Youth Day, International Day of Disabled Persons, and Human Rights Day. It is hoped that sport could be used during those celebrations as a tool to further the concepts of empowerment, equality, and freedom.

(4) An International Day of Sport would provide an opportunity to build upon the model of the Olympic Truce resolution that has been developed by the United Nations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This day would create the synergy to strengthen partnerships between the two organizations in the name of sport, and encourage national governments and organizations to similarly unite.

(5) Given the recent momentum of sport throughout the world in a local, national, and international capacity, an International Day of Sport would provide many non- governmental organizations a unified opportunity to raise awareness for their causes.

(6) It is hoped that an International Day of Sport will be observed through education, celebration, and public awareness to acknowledge the many ways in which sport promotes social and cultural development. This International Day would serve well to be celebrated on November 3rd, the day in which the United Nations General Assembly formally passed resolution 58/5, establishing the International Year of Sport and Physical Education.

Although the United Nations office of Sport for Development and Peace would most effectively become the lead organization for the International Day of Sport, significant partners to be considered in the development of the International Day of Sport, include:

- UN Agencies
- Corporations
- Academia
- NGOs
- Athletes 
- Youth
- Governments
- Sports Organizations