Top five historical facts behind IDSDP
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A brief historical story behind the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

6 April commemorates sport and its role in working towards development and peace. However, the day has a lot of history behind it; here are some of the important steps.

Fact 1

The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace was set to coincide with the anniversary of birth of the modern Olympic Games in Athens, in 1896. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a long history of promoting the social benefits of sport and later had a role to play in the creation of the IDSDP, having advocated for it at the United Nations level.

Since that day in 1896, the IOC has added the Winter Olympics and Youth Olympics to its repertoire of events and the International Paralympic Committee and Special Olympics have been founded, providing the world’s largest events for people with physical and intellectual disabilities. These games promote inclusiveness in sport, an underlying message of the IDSDP.

Fact 2

The United Nations’ interest in sport can be traced back to before it was even founded. In 1922, the International Labour Organization and the International Olympic Committee signed a collaborative agreement. The initiative aimed to make sport more accessible to workers. It was one of the earliest steps in integrating sport with social objectives and international cooperation and, through this, other initiatives were born.

The United Nations was founded in 1945 and, in 1946, the ILO became its first specialised agency. The IOC-ILO partnership was later expanded to include other UN agencies. This included funding for sport projects and therefore more programmes.

Fact 3

The concept of inclusion is fundamental to the growth of sport and development and, ultimately, the birth of the IDSDP. In 1978, the UNESCO International Charter of Physical Education and Sport described sport and physical activity as “fundamental right for all.” 

A year later, the historic Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women was adopted. It affirmed the right of women to be part of recreational activities, sports and all aspects of cultural life. From then on, the issue of gender inclusion has become a focal point, and efforts have been put in place to recognise the discrimination against women in sport.

These were major milestones in not only highlighting that sport can address social challenges but also admitting that there are social issues within sport itself. 

Fact 4

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) established the first global action plan to eradicate some of the world’s most pressing issues. The MDGs did not mention sport, but they were introduced at a time when the notion that sport was a credible tool in development work was becoming more widespread. In 2001, the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan appointed Adolf Ogi as the first Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace and the first high-level conferences on the topic took place in Magglingen, Switzerland, in 2003 and 2005.

By 2010, the number of organisations using sport in development had multiplied, with the international community working to show its contribution to the MDGs. In 2010, the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace described sport as a viable and practical tool to assist in the achievement of the MDGs. While sport does not have the capacity to tackle solely the MDGs, it can be very effective when part of a broad, holistic approach to addressing the MDG”.

This was a big step in realising the role in sport in health, education, child mortality, poverty and mental health.

Fact 5

On 23 August 2013, the United Nation proclaimed 6 April to be the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. Resolution 67/296 stated: 

 “(The UN) invites States, the United Nations system and in particular the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace, relevant international organizations, and international, regional and national sports organizations, civil society, including non-governmental organizations and the private sector, and all other relevant stakeholders to cooperate, observe and raise awareness of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace".

The IDSDP has a five-year history of promoting justice, inclusion, equality and health through sport. More and more organisations have been part of this day and as the years go on, the movement gets bigger. The day should not be observed and forgotten, but should be a celebration of the all the accomplishments that took place throughout the year.


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