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New technologies have made sport more inclusive

Copyrights: ITU Pictures

New technologies have made sport more inclusive

A commentary from Olympic swimmer and Peace and Sport Champion for Peace Sylvia Poll on the positive impact technological advances have made in sport.

Sport is changing. It’s changing quickly, faster than ever. With the arrival of new technologies, it has never been so global, connected and shared. The last Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 were the most digital in history. Two years later, the PyeongChang Winter Games tested 5G at a global sports event for the first time. The next Tokyo Games in 2020 are set to be the most innovative in history in terms of communication and information technologies. In Paris 2024, organisers will give audiences the chance to participate in some events in virtual reality, such as sailing and cycling. The ball is rolling and there’s no stopping it now.

These changes positively affect all areas of sport. Nowadays, new media and digital platforms enable major competitions to reach wider audiences, more than ever before. They are accessible to everyone. An athlete’s emotion, whether in victory or defeat, becomes the emotion of us all. New technologies are also improving sport facilities. Technical progress benefits Paralympic athletes as well. It helps them on a daily basis: in their training and in their everyday lives.

Faster, higher, stronger and above all, more united and inclusive. New technologies not only help to increase the vibrancy of sports events around the globe. They also amplify the role of sport as a tool for development and peace. It enables the greatest number of spectators to see how sport can change the lives and destinies of people. This phenomenon is even more profound in the Paralympic movement, where social media let us share the heroic journeys, courage and sacrifices of Paralympic athletes. Their stories are a source of inspiration to everyone.

In August 2016, the first-ever Refugee Olympic Team competed at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro. This initiative will be repeated – even expanded – at the Tokyo Games next year. In September 2017, the International Olympic Committee launched the Olympic Refuge Foundation in its commitment to further support refugees. Thanks to the unprecedented media impact of the 2016 Olympics Games, the world found out about their past and their personal histories. Ten young men and women who fled their countries in search of protection. Ten talented athletes who never gave up. Social media helped share their stories, which gave them international recognition. Using new technologies, audiences could follow their performances at the Games in real time, by streaming. And, above all, people around the world understood the decisive role that sport had played in their lives as refugees.


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Sylvia Poll, Peace and Sport


Monday, July 22, 2019 - 10:21