Participants of the International Sport Cooperation Conference 2015 listen to World Taekwondo Federation President Choue Chung-won’s keynote speech at The Plaza hotel in central Seoul, Monday. / Courtesy of World Taekwondo Federation
By Nam Hyun-woo
Figures from sports and academic fields offered ways for sports to contribute to a better world during an international conference co-hosted by the International Sport Cooperation Center of Korea (ISC) and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF), Monday.
The conference, dubbed the International Sport Cooperation Conference 2015, was held at The Plaza Hotel in central Seoul, and some 250 attendees, including WTF President Choue Chung-won, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Korea Representative Dirk Hebecker and Olympafrica Foundation CEO Thierno Alassane Diack, shared their vision and opinions on advocating global development through sport.
The conference came amid the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently established an emergency fund of $2 million to help refugees and sport was included as one of the main agenda items in the United Nation’s newly launched Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Choue opened the conference with a keynote speech, in which he stressed international federations’ social responsibility of promoting sustainable peace; and revealed a blueprint of the WTF’s recently announced initiative, the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation.
“The World Taekwondo Federation plans to fulfill our social responsibility under Olympic Agenda 2020,” Choue said of the IOC’s Dec. 8 strategic roadmap for the Olympic movement. “The body we will use to do this is the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation, and it is designed to help deal with very specific issues.”
The foundation, which is to be launched in upcoming months in Lausanne, Switzerland, plans to dispatch taekwondo instructors to refugee camps worldwide to teach the sport, Olympism and related values.
Choue said the federation is finalizing remaining legal steps and will initiate two pilot programs in the near future ― one in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan and the other in a displaced persons camp in earthquake-struck Nepal.
UNHCR Representative Hebecker put an emphasis on sport’s capability of providing hope to refugees or displaced people.
“The ordeals of witnessing destruction, trauma and starvation take the biggest toll on young refugees,” said Hebecker. “The UNHCR strives to provide the basic necessities to refugees, particularly via sports as a medium that raises survival will and physical strength.”
Hebecker noted the importance of sports for refugees and displaced people in terms of being a source of joy in times of despair and restoring human dignity as well as providing them physical exercise and development. He said such efforts have made some achievements so far, but called for a raise in funding and improvement in distribution.
Diack, who is also an IOC Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport Commission member, reviewed the history, mission and activities of Olympafrica, a non-profit organization dedicated to sport and development. Diack noted that 38 Olympafrica Centers are being operated in 34 countries, playing a crucial role in developing these regions through sport.
Prof. Kim Taek-yoon of Seoul National University analyzed the SDGs and global governance for development through sport by highlighting the role of sport. Kim stressed its contribution to the economy as a cost-effective tool for development, to health, to education as well as other areas including gender equality.
During an Idea Sharing Session, which allowed the audience to have interactive, two-way communication, participants shared their perspectives on making a better world through sport by actively posting on a board in the conference hall.
Conference attendee Buy Sophoan from the Cambodia NOC mentioned that he had had a productive time thinking and sharing opinions on how sport can be utilized for development. Ketetsi Sebusiso from the Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sports and Recreation, Principal Sports and Recreation of Lesotho, said the presentations were interesting and informative, and it was great to share his own thoughts as a participant.
Lee Eun-chul, the ISC President and the 1992 Barcelona Olympics champion in shooting, said, “It is now our turn to contribute to the society through sports and it can bring chances to the world, no matter how big or small.”
Oct 26th, 2015:
[KBS] 스포츠, 더 나은 세상을 꿈꾸다…2015 국제스포츠협력 콘퍼런스 개최
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Oct 26th, 2015: [TVChosun]
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