Following the announcement of closure of the United Nations Office for Sport for Development on May 4th 2017, the future of Sport for the Development seems in doubt.
Very little information about the sudden closure has thus far been released, but according to Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres: “The Secretary-General has agreed with the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, to establish a direct partnership between the UN and the International Olympic Committee. Accordingly, it was decided to close the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP).”
The important work of the UNOSDP had gained significant momentum since the early 2000’s; most recently with the introduction of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace in 2014 and the inclusion of sport as an enabler of development in the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals. The most important purpose of the UNOSDP however was that it symbolised sport and development’s emergence onto the world stage and credibility, not only accessing the UN system but being part of it.
Further, the stated future collaboration with the International Olympic Committe (IOC) may divide opinion, as the IOC is not always perceived as impartial and not all sports come under its umbrella.
Whatever the outcome, the importance of Sport for Development as a means to improve peoples lives across the globe cannot be underestimated, and in order for it’s goals to be fulfilled it requires energetic and impartial leadership on an international level.