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ISCA Secretary General calls for collective action at Council of Europe Sport Ministerial conference

ISCA has encouraged European Ministers of Sport to focus on bringing sport back onto the political agenda and citizens back to sport in a speech given today by ISCA Secretary General Jacob Schouenborg at the 16th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers Responsible for Sport.

39 of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe are part of the voluntary Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS). ISCA is a member of the Consultative Committee, which can give input and advice to this collaboration. Every second year the Sport Ministers meet at a two-day meeting, where the organisations in the Consultative Committee are also invited. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Sport Ministers’ meeting planned for last year is now being held online. Nine Ministers and nine organisations (including ISCA) have requested to speak at today’s Round Table session.

Speech from ISCA to the Council of Europe Conference of Ministers responsible for Sport on 15 January 2021

Dear Ministers

Dear Colleagues


At the International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) we believe we all have two major tasks ahead of us:


  • Firstly, to get citizens back to sport and recreational physical activity and
  • Secondly, to get sport back onto the political agenda


The European Sport Charter - with its respect for and recognition of organisational diversity in the European sport sectors - and the Tbilisi Declaration underlining the fundamental right to sport participation are valuable political stepping stones - if they are efficiently utilised.


Before the Covid-19 pandemic, physical inactivity was the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and was recognised as such. Physical inactivity will still be the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality after Covid-19 – and there is no vaccine to assist us in reducing the negative individual and societal implications of an inactive lifestyle.


It depends on our collective actions!


The huge health benefits of recreational sport and physical activity have gained recognition and climbed the political health agendas over last decades. This position is unfortunately lost during the last year, where Covid-19 has wiped out topics such as prevention through sport and physical activity from the global health agendas. We need to get sport back on the agendas again – including on the very relevant political agendas of health, education and inclusion.


We do not need a simplistic pyramid model to describe the sport sector in Europe. We need to underline the diversity of the sport sector and build a respectful attitude to all sport stakeholders – the recognition of all do’ers making a positive difference for citizens every day. This is the philosophy underlined in the current European Sport Charter. Keep this perspective also in the future.


Participation in sport and recreational physical activity have dropped dramatically during the last year – for children as well as for adults. We lost the fun, the social, the mental, and clearly the physical benefits of recreational sport and physical activity.


It is our collective task to get sport to the people and back on the political agendas, including by advocating for the fundamental right to participate in sport.


We should create the same sense of urgency for sport and physical activity promotion as we have for our Covid-19 response.


We support a resolution underlining these perspectives.


Thank you.


Related stories:


EU adopts Work Plan for Sport 2021-2024


What if inactivity was a new virus? Comment by Jacob Schouenborg