What is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace?
The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) is an annual celebration of the power of sport to drive social change, community development and to foster peace and understanding.
On 6 April 2021, the IDSDP is a moment when the IOC and the whole Olympic Movement underline the paramount role that sport plays in supporting global recovery efforts from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Sport is ready to contribute to building a more human-centred and inclusive society,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “This crisis has made it clearer than ever that sport is the low-cost, high-impact tool par excellence for all countries in their recovery efforts.”
The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have demonstrated the importance of sport and physical activity in helping countries, communities and individuals navigate these challenging times by staying physically and mentally fit, and thus becoming more resilient.
The origin of the IDSDP
Creating a historical link to the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, 6 April was declared the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 2013, and has been celebrated each year since 2014.
The IOC, in its capacity of Permanent Observer to the UN, proposed and supported this initiative, as it values its potential to recognise sports organisations’ role in and contribution to social change and human development. More specifically, it is an opportunity for the IOC to highlight how athletes and the Olympic Movement use sport to foster peace, reconciliation and development, and underline the power of the Olympic Games to promote tolerance and solidarity among the participants, fans and people all over the world.
Sport as a universal tool for development
In 2015, in a historic moment for sport and the Olympic Movement, sport was officially recognised as an “important enabler” of sustainable development and included in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In this context, the IDSDP provides a notable platform to advocate more investment in sport, related infrastructure and quality physical education for youth among governments.
This Day offers a new opportunity to promote sport and physical activity as a cost-effective and meaningful tool to address a wide range of needs related to: education, health, social inclusion, youth development, gender equality, peace-building and sustainable development.
Using sport to promote development and peace has been at the core of the IOC’s mission since its creation in 1894. Pierre de Coubertin, the IOC’s founder, was explicit in his desire to use Olympism as a means to promote harmony among individuals and nations, at all levels from casual practice to competitive sport.
It is also an opportunity to showcase all ways that the IOC, National Olympic Committees, International and National Sports Federations, sports clubs, governmental and non-governmental organisations, neighbourhood associations and all other entities and volunteers use sport for the betterment of humanity.
The annual IDSDP is also a fitting complement to the celebration of Olympic Day, which, introduced by the IOC in 1948, commemorates the founding of the modern Olympic Movement, each year on 23 June. Millions of people in countries around the world participate in a wide variety of activities, from sport to educational and cultural activities.
Olympic principles are United Nations principlesUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon 2009 Olympic Congress in Copenhagen
IOC and UN collaboration: Tapping the full potential of sport
The United Nations (UN) has long recognised the contribution of sport for development and peace, and collaboration between the IOC and the UN has played a central role in spreading the acceptance of sport as a means to promote internationally agreed development goals. In 2015, in a historic moment for sport and the Olympic Movement, sport was officially recognised as an “important enabler” of sustainable development and included in the UN’s Agenda 2030.
In line with Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC’s strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement unanimously adopted in December 2014, the IOC believes in the potential of sport to help achieve eleven of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) established by this UN Agenda 2030: Ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages (SDG 3); Ensure inclusive and quality education for all (SDG 4); Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls (SDG 5); Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all (SDG 8); Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (SDG 11); Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns (SDG 12); Take urgent actions to combat climate change and its impacts (SDG 13); Conserve and sustainably use marine resources and protect and promote the use of terrestrial ecosystems (SDG 14 & 15); and Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development (SDG 16).
In recent years, a few historical milestones significantly reinforced the partnership between the IOC and the UN, which dates back to 1922, when the IOC and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) established an institutional cooperation.
- In 2009, the UN General Assembly granted the IOC Permanent Observer status. This decision enables the IOC to be directly involved in the UN Agenda and to attend UN General Assembly meetings where it can take the floor, thus providing the possibility to promote sport at a new level.
- In April 2014, the UN and the IOC signed an agreement aimed at strengthening collaboration between the two organisations at the highest level. The agreement underlined that the IOC and the UN “share the same values of contributing to a better and peaceful world through sport.” Learn more about the IOC and UN agreement here.
- It was then also announced that IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge had been appointed as the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Youth Refugees and Sport.
- In November 2014, the UN formerly recognised the autonomy of the IOC and sport. The UN Resolution acknowledges “sport as a means to promote education, health, development and peace”, and highlights the important role of the IOC and the Olympic Movement in achieving these goals. Learn more about this historic milestone here.
- In December 2016, sport was once again lauded by the UN for its power to spur social change. Learn more about this UN recognition here.
Using sport to build a better world
In 1993, the UN General Assembly approved a Resolution that further solidified IOC-UN cooperation with the decision to revive the Olympic Truce, by adopting a Resolution entitled “Building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal,” which calls upon Member States, before every edition of the Games, to observe the Olympic Truce and to cooperate with the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee in their efforts to use sport as a tool to promote peace, dialogue and reconciliation in areas of conflict during and beyond the period of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.