Important Days of April: International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

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The United Nations took a resolution on August 23, 2013 to celebrate April 6 as the inauguration of the first Olympics Games in 1896 at Athens, Greece. Since 2014, April 6 has been globally observed as the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace.

Why to have an International Day of Sports?

The United Nations (UN) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) are committed to bring societal changes through sports. Both these organizations want to make sports more accessible, remove social barriers, diminish the cultural differences, and improve education, health and overall social development through the medium of sports.

Sports has been believed to have the power to bridge social ties, foster sustainable development, peace and respect. It is a way to mark the individual and the collective capabilities to remain physically and mentally fit. 

Many renowned personalities, associated with one or the other form of sports, engage with communities particularly children and make an effort to give them sporting opportunities thus enriching their lives.

Important Milestones in the History of International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

1922- The roadmap for Sports and Development was chalked as early as 1922 where IOC and International Labor Organization (ILO) signed an agreement to collaborate and find synergies between sports and the development communities.

2001 – The then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, appointed the first Special Advisor on Sports and Development and Peace introducing the UN office on Sports for Development and Peace.

2003 – First ever conference on Sport and Development was held in Magglingen, Switzerland

2005 – General Assembly of UN observes the year as the International Year of Sport and Physical Education

2009 – The first ever forum on Sport for Development and Peace by UN-IOC

June 2013 – UN-IOC holds third international forum on Sport for Development and Peace recognizing the need to have a United Nations International Day of Sport and Physical Activity

August 2013 – The 67th UN General Assembly commemorates April 6 as IDSDP

How IDSDP has been celebrated in the past?

2014 – The first ever IDSDP was celebrated with the five key messages – the power of sports to advance gender equality, the power of sport to improve physical and mental health, the power of sport to include everyone regardless of abilities, the power of sport to respect and promote dialogue, and the power of sport to enhance life skills of children and youth. You were supposed to share a photograph highlighting any, few or all of these messages.

2015 – The second anniversary was celebrated by reaching out to a wider audience through a proper plan, mass campaigning activities, informing press and communities about the activities to be undertaken on that day and then building a memoir of the day to be shared later with the media and/or communities.

2016 – This year was marked with an introspection on what worked, what could have been done better and whether IDSDP was really a significant observance with some meaning. A call for greater collaboration within the sporting world was communicated loud and clear.

2017 – The fourth year was about campaigning, sharing what communities across the world intended to do on April 6 to make sports accessible to a wider audience and bring about equitable change.

2018 – The fifth anniversary encouraged people to share their plans for the IDSDP. The Institute for Human Rights and Business published a report Right Through Sport: Mapping “Sport for Development and Peace.”

2019 – In its 6th year, IDSDP touched upon humanity, disability and inclusivity.

2020 – IDSDP was celebrated amidst a global lockdown due to the onset of the pandemic during its seventh year. The celebration was unique in that all the on ground, physical activities were replaced by digital activities.

Covid-19 and International Day of Sport for Development and Peace 2021

Sports too has taken its fair share of bite due to Covid-19 pandemic. However, in such circumstances, recognizing International Sports Day for Development and Peace is even more important. Since times immemorial, sports have taken a centre stage in building strength, resilience and perseverance in humans. During such anxious times, it is everyone’s responsibility to keep him/her mentally fit in addition to being physically healthy to conquer the challenges that this new and changed world has to offer.

Just like in any sport, even during such challenging times, we need to act as a team and come out stronger by ensuring that the vaccines are distributed in a fair and equitable manner.

IOC has come up with novel ideas of using social media platforms with hashtags like #StayActive, #StayStrong, #StayHealthy and #BeActive. IOC’s star campaigners (read athletes) are using these hashtags to share ideas of fitness routines at home.

This year, UN has also asked the public to use the hashtags #OnlyTogether and #SportDay generously over social media with a video or a picture of you showing the importance of sports in your life or a media asset shared by the UN. The caption should include the following message.

Let’s help end the pandemic by ensuring everyone is protected from COVID-19. Let’s level the playing field and recover better. #OnlyTogether will we [play] [cheer] again. #SportDay

The IDSDP 2021 message aims to (Source: UN Development Data):

– Reaffirm the place of sport in the recovery from the pandemic and beyond
– Foster equity, solidarity, community and team spirit in response to the pandemic
– Encourage healthy habits through physical activity and building emotional wellbeing
– and inspire hope through sporting analogies

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