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Promoting social inclusion through sport: PACE highlights the role of sport in empowering vulnerable groups

Nigar ARPADARAI (Azerbaijan, EC/DA)
©Council of Europe

The Assembly has called on member States to adopt legislation prohibiting discrimination in sports and provide equal opportunities for “most vulnerable people, including migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons, to have proper access to sporting facilities and activities” considering factors like finances, age, gender, and ability.

In a resolution, based on a report by Nigar Arpadarai (Azerbaijan, EC/DA), the parliamentarians highlighted the benefits of using sport to “build mutual respect and encourage team spirit” for both host societies and refugees, migrants and IDPs.

The parliamentarians suggested that governments should bear the additional expenses of providing free access to sports, rather than burdening sports organisations. They also proposed measures such as coach training “to detect migrants’, refugees’ and displaced persons’ vulnerabilities and overcome them”. Language courses for refugees participating in sports, and assistance for refugee athletes to travel to sports events, were among other recommendations.

Finally, there should be campaigns that promote the participation of migrants, refugees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in sports, with an emphasis on women. These campaigns should address cultural and psychological barriers that women may encounter, encouraging their active involvement.

The Assembly also acknowledged the efforts of the UNHCR and the IOC to promote sport activities for refugees, including the participation of refugee athletes at the Paris Olympics 2024 through the Refugee Olympic Team and the work of the Council of Europe. “Member States and sports organisations should be encouraged to join international instruments and initiatives, including those of the Council of Europe, such as the European Sports Charter and the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport”, the parliamentarians said.