17th January 2017

Governmental sports policy conference to be hosted by Russia in July

The International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials Responsible for Physical Education in Sport (MINEPS) is scheduled to hold its sixth conference (VI) in Kazan, Russia, 5-7 July. At a meeting held at the headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in Paris yesterday, European governmental and non-governmental experts European governmental and non-governmental experts participated in a preparatory working group for theme I of MINEPS VI: ‘Developing a comprehensive vision of inclusive access by all’. The Russian Ministry of Sport said that topics discussed included cooperation and governance in sport, advocacy and raising public awareness, combating racism and other forms of discrimination in sport.

The three main themes of MINEPS VI are:

• Developing a comprehensive vision of inclusive access for all.
• Maximising the contributions of sport to sustainable development and peace.
• Protecting the integrity of sport.

In July last year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would not give patronage to any sporting event or meeting organised in Russia, and such measures were extended ahead of the December 2016 publication of Part Two of the Independent Person (IP) Report compiled for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) by Richard McLaren. The advice has led to many sporting organisations withdrawing planned events from Russia.

The International Skating Union (ISU) has withdrawn a Speed Skating World Cup event from Russia; the International Biathlon Union (IBU) has withdrawn the IBU World Cup and the Youth and Junior World Championships from Russia; and the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF) has withdrawn its World Championships from Russia. Last week, National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOS) called for the removal of all major international competitions from Russia, as well as a moratorium on the awarding of new competitions to Russia.

Although the MINEPS meetings are not a sporting event and therefore do not require IOC patronage, they are designed to formulate an international strategy for sport and provided a key platform for the development of the International Convention against Doping in Sport. However, a UNESCO spokesperson wrote in an email that as the Conference of State Parties to the International Convention against Doping in Sport is to be held in September 2017), UNESCO had ‘dispose[d] of an intergovernmental forum that addresses integrity in sport specifically’, and it was important to distinguish between the two events.

‘MINEPS is a ministerial conference, not a sporting event’, continued the UNESCO spokesperson. ‘As the result of a bidding process involving all UNESCO Member States, the Russian Federation has offered to host this conference convened by UNESCO. Following a feasibility study carried out by the Secretariat of UNESCO, the Executive Board (see decision 199EX/21 and the related working document 199EX/21) and the Intergovernmental Committee for Physical Education and Sport, CIGEPS (see Resolution CIGEPS/2016/2, para. 62 of the final report of the 2016 CIGEPS session, and the related working document CIGEPS/2016 Doc.3) have endorsed the hosting of the Conference in Kazan.’

‘The Secretariat has no knowledge of any objection from Member States with respect to the venue of the conference’, continued the spokesperson. ‘The Russian Federation is providing excellent conditions for preparing and hosting the conference including, notably, the offer to cover the costs of participation of a representative from each of the least developed / low-income countries, as well as material and technical support to a very thorough preparation of the conference programme. As you may know, this preparation currently mobilises a large number of governmental and non-governmental experts who are committed to make this event a success.’

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