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PACE committee proposes free access for migrants and refugees to sports facilities and activities to promote social inclusion

Nigar Arpadarai

PACE Migration Committee has proposed that migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons should be granted free access to sports centres, clubs and activities, and provided with free team strips if they need them, as a way of promoting their social inclusion.

In a draft resolution adopted today, based on a report by Nigar Arpadarai (Azerbaijan, EC/DA), the committee underlined the benefits – for both host societies and refugees, migrants and IDPs – of using sport to bring communities together, encourage team spirit and build mutual respect.

The extra cost of free access should be borne by governments, and not by sports organisations, the parliamentarians said. They also suggested training for coaches in the special needs of migrants, refugees and IDPs, language courses for refugees taking part in sport, and help for refugee athletes to travel to sports events, among other things.

Meanwhile, there should be campaigns encouraging migrants, refugees and IDPs to take part in sport, in particular women, who can face cultural or psychological barriers to participating.

The committee also hailed the efforts of the UNHCR and the IOC to promote sport for refugees, including the participation of a Refugee Olympic Team at the 2024 Paris Olympics, and the work of the Council of Europe, notably through its Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS).