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History of sport and development

History of sport and development

Sport is not a new element in development cooperation. It has been used in an ad hoc way to reach development-related objectives as far back as the 1920s.

For example, within the United Nations, humanitarian aid workers have tapped the potential of sport as a means to improve the conditions of victims of conflict and natural disasters for many years.

The UN International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Olympic Committee signed an agreement to collaborate as far back as 1922.

However, sport was largely underestimated as a major tool in humanitarian programmes and was rarely used in a systematic way.

More recently, there has been a fundamental shift. Today, more and more national and international development organisations are using sport to add to their approaches in local, regional and global development and peace promotion programmes. This is done in close cooperation with sports organisations most of the time.

Despite recent progress, the systematic use of sport and physical education for development is still in its early stages as many remain unconvinced of the impact sport can have on reaching development and humanitarian objectives.

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