April 12, 2019

Here’s how new technologies can help sports promote peace and development

By Sylvia Poll, Head of the Project Support Division at ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau

Sport can play a key role in driving social change. Whether playing, attending, or watching sporting events – diverse groups of people come together in unique ways around sport. In this way, sport offers unparalleled opportunities for community development, youth empowerment and is proven to help foster peace and understanding.

For the first time in the 10 year history of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) Forum, a new track was introduced to explore how sport can act as a driver of sustainable development, and the ways that information and communication technologies (ICTs) can advance sport for development.

The ‘ICTs and Sports’ track highlighted the important influence of innovative technologies and its impacts around the world. Three different sport-related workshops were carried out on the themes of Sustainable Development, intellectual property rights and the new .sport domain name.

A large group of stakeholders such as the International Olympic Committee, the Olympic Refuge Foundation, UEFA, UNESCO, ILO, WIPO, the Real Madrid Foundation, Right to Play, Think Sport, Peace and Sport, World Taekwondo Federation and the Centre for Sports and Human Rights came together at WSIS.

The participants of the workshops shared their experiences, the opportunities, challenges and lessons learned, as well as examples of how there are using ICTs in an innovative way to promote sport for development and peace.

In recent years, the role of ICTs in advancing sport development has been duly recognized. The 2016 Rio Olympic Games are a good example. At the time, they were considered the ‘most digitalized’ Olympic Games in history, since they brought ICT innovation to broadcast competitions and share sport values with billions of people around the world. The 2018 Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea were also an example of how cutting-edge ICTs were used to enhance the sporting experience for a global audience.

Sport remains a firm fixture on the United Nations and international agenda. In the past years, many United Nations’ organizations and other intergovernmental stakeholders have taken bold actions to promote attention to sport as a platform and a catalyst for sustainable development.

During the WSIS Forum we were able to celebrate the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, which is an annual celebration on 6 April, declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, and has been celebrated each year ever since.

Sport should be considered an enabler of sustainable development. The ICTs and Sports track recognized the important contribution that sport has on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially on empowerment of women and youth, and the improvements in can bring in areas such as health, education and social inclusion.

A diverse group of panelists shared for the first time at the ITU Headquarters, their knowledge and current initiatives. Many different international players around the world are helping move forward the agenda of sport for development and peace, especially with the implementation of different actions at the high-level policy levels and all the way down to the grassroots level.

On Friday, 12 April the World Taekwondo and International Taekwon-Do Federation put on a display at ITU Headquarters. ©ITU/I.Wood

The conversation about sport, development and ICTs kicked-off this year at the WSIS Forum. We were able to show their key role in development. We look forward to carrying this important conversation forward to ensure that ICTs and sports help to achieve the SDGs.

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Here's how new technologies can help sports promote peace and development

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