Call for articles: Winter sports and development
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With the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games coming up, sportanddev.org would like to hear your views on the topic of winter sports and development.

The biggest events of the winter sports calendar will take place soon, with the Winter Olympics on 9-25 February, and the Paralympics following shortly afterwards on 8-18 March. Taking place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the games are anticipated by winter sports fans for the mixture of disciplines from skiing and curling to bobsleighing and ice hockey.

Despite the mantra that sport and politics don’t mix, mega-events always take place to a political backdrop. In the run up to this year’s Olympics, much of that conversation has focused on heightened tensions in the Korean peninsula. With escalating threats being exchanged between leaders of the US and North Korea, many have feared that the threat of nuclear war is rising.

The New York Times described North Korean Olympic qualification as a matter of “geopolitical urgency” – many believe it will lower security concerns and make the games safer. North Korea will indeed send a team and, as a goodwill gesture, will march alongside the South Korean team under the same flag at the opening ceremony.

At the same time, environmental issues often come up while discussing cold weather sports. Winter sports are threatened in many locations by a warming climate, while the winter tourism industry is itself often accused of having a high environmental impact, although some resorts have made efforts to address that in recent years.

Winter disciplines are not the most obvious tools for development. They can be expensive, they are only possible in limited parts of the world and, in some countries, they are viewed as a little elitist.

However, there are a number of examples of projects using them to achieve social aims. According to the International Blind Sports Association, “Alpine (downhill) skiing is one of the rare opportunities available that allows the blind individual to move freely at speed through time and space.”

Meanwhile, an organisation in Harlem uses figure skating to promote education, health and leadership skills. And a number of ice hockey initiatives have been featured on sportanddev.org, from a pride match in Australia to combat homophobia and promote equality to an educational programme in the Indian Himalayas. 

So, what do you think? Are winter sports simply a pastime, practiced by relatively high-income people in select regions of the world? Or are they more than that, tools for inclusion, education and promoting messages of peace?

Let us know what you think about winter sports and their role in development, by writing on sportanddev.org. The article topic is up to you and so is the format – personal stories, commentary articles and research reports are all welcome – but here are some questions to help spur some ideas:

  • What is the impact of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games?
  • How can winter sports best be used to achieve social objectives?
  • How can winter sports overcome barriers such as costs to achieve their potential?

Submit an article
If you would like to contribute an article, please contact [email protected] with your idea to discuss next steps. Articles should be submitted by 18:00 (Central European Time) on 20 February 2018 and should not exceed 400 words.


Senior Project Manager
International Platform on Sport and Development