LAUSANNE, Switzerland – International Sports Federations were praised this morning for setting an inspirational example over the past year, as leaders at the International Federation (IF) Forum 2021 underlined the importance of solidarity across the global sports movement.

In the Opening Address at the fully virtual event 25 May the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach reserved special praise for IFs in a timely update on preparations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. He thanked sport’s global governing bodies for “leading the way” in having “demonstrated that sports competitions can be organised safely”, even before the international roll-out of vaccination programmes.

In his Keynote Address, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “I have been encouraged to see some sporting events and leagues returning in recent months, often with limited spectators and special arrangements for athletes. WHO is committed to working in solidarity with organisers, athletes and fans to address public health risks so that sports can continue safely. Sports bring us closer as a global community, and it is this same spirit of solidarity that will help us overcome the pandemic and build a healthier world for all.”

H.E. Ban Ki-moon, the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) and the Chair of the IOC Ethics Commission, then highlighted the UN’s recent adoption of a resolution for sport to enable sustainable development in his Member Keynote Address. Ban Ki Moon then went on to highlight the positive impact of the UTS World Virtual Youth Festival and shared his on-going support for such innovative events stating, “United Through Sports which I had the honour to chair the opening of the sports festival together with President Bach and be an effective means to promote mutual understanding and harmony among the world’s people. I was again honoured to do the same at the recent UTS World Virtual Youth Festival which brought over 100 organisations together promoting inclusion, non-discrimination and equality bringing us all together with and for the youth of the world.”

Dr. Raffaele Chiulli, President of SportAccord and the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF), also stressed the importance of a collaborative approach.

“Many lessons have been learnt in recent months, but we must all continue to learn from both our experiences and each other,” Dr. Raffaele Chiulli said. “There are always new ideas, approaches and innovations to consider and implement… As we all look forward to brighter times in the foreseeable future, today’s virtual gathering represents an important milestone.”

UTS Chief Executive Officer, Julia Govinden was invited by SportAccord to join the panel “The Virtual Experience and its Home within IFs” and share the impact of the virtual events and the positive opportunities for IFs. Ms Govinden stated, “The festival has opened the doors to greater innovation, and we look forward to the IFs getting involved in the next World Virtual Youth Festival later on this year.” The panel was moderated by BBC World Anchor and joined by James Carr, Head of Administration and Projects (ASOIF), Jürgen Künkel, Managing Partner Vantage Global Event Production and Colin Grahamslaw, Secretary General of the World Curling Federation.

Today’s event, organised by SportAccord, has brought together more than 300 leaders from over 125 IFs to explore the theme of ‘Lessons We Are Learning from a Global Crisis and How Sport and Society Can Emerge Stronger.’

To watch the panel discussion: The Virtual Experience and its Home within IFs