Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start off by thanking the "European Federation of Sports Medicine Associations" for inviting me to sit in as a co-chair of this session. I am delighted to be with you today.
You perhaps are asking yourselves what is the link between your profession and the Organisation of which I am Deputy Secretary General – the Council of Europe.
In fact, our mutual interests are very strong. Permit me to say a few words on the way in which the Council of Europe views sport as an excellent vehicle to transmit its values and aims.
Sport is a social activity shared by all Europeans. From leisure to competition, almost everyone is involved in sport, either as a spectator or a participant. Sport is an area which has huge potential to bring people together and to exercise a deep influence on the way societies become cohesive. From our point of view, sport can be a key building block for constructing and maintaining a Europe based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
The Council of Europe aims to promote the development of sport in modern European society, through emphasising its positive values and by making sure that these positive values are fully respected and sport is preserved from negative trends.
Over the years, the Council of Europe has developed a wide expertise in this regard, particularly in the fight against violence and doping in sport. Our instruments of choice are international conventions, which we develop and monitor together with our member States. The Council of Europe is also co-ordinating the involvement of European public authorities in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA): I will myself be attending the WADA Conference in South Africa this November where the new revised World Anti-Doping Code will be adopted.
We are currently in the process of negotiating a new convention against the manipulation of sport competitions, commonly known as "match- fixing", and are also revising our Convention against Spectator Violence. We are also working on sport as a vector for social inclusion, covering themes such as access of people with disabilities to sport, women in sport, as well as combatting racism, xenophobia and homophobia through sport.
Today, we are opening your session about "exercise prescription for health", and here I would like to focus on the benefits of sport,
for individuals and for society as a whole.
Over the last decades, there has been a progressive decline in developed countries in the amount of physical activity in people's daily lives.
Specific health risks differ greatly between countries and regions, but it is a fact that physical inactivity is a major risk factor for most common
non-communicable diseases. The growth of non-communicable diseases in the European region is startling and a severe warning sign.
You are very much aware of these worrying trends. You are experts in the way in which physical activity can contribute to reducing these risks of
However, health is more than the absence of disease or infirmity, but rather "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being," to use the formulation of the World Health Organization.
In addition to the physical benefits of a physically active lifestyle, I would therefore also like to stress the other benefits of sport, notably the beneficial impact of sport on social cohesion; its emphasis on mutual respect and tolerance; its promotion of an active involvement in democratic structures; its educational value in teaching people to strive for excellence while abiding by ethical standards.
In other words, while we are talking about lofty and abstract principles of sport policy, we are also talking about real people, with their abilities and attitudes and expectations and feelings.
And we are talking about our society as a whole. The Council of Europe is convinced that in addition to its strict physiological benefits, a reasoned practice of sport in an appropriate environment can contribute to the development of a broad set of social, mental, emotional, and ethical skills and competences.
Le sport est l'un des domaines dans lesquels je me suis personnellement investie tout au long de ma carrière et je me réjouis de pouvoir prendre la parole devant vous aujourd'hui.
Je suis convaincue que votre engagement dans la promotion de l'activité physique et sportive, conjugué à notre mission commune de promotion d'une pratique saine et d'un cadre approprié pour le sport, débouchera sur de nouvelles initiatives et permettra de renforcer la coopération entre les professionnels de santé et les autorités chargées des questions sportives.
Je vous remercie de votre attention.