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“Working towards sustainable and accessible sports facilities”

On 1 July, the French Minister, Ms Amélie Oudéa-Castera, handed over the torch to the President of the National Sports Agency of the Czech Republic, Mr Filip Neusser. He shares with us the guidelines and priorities for sport of the Czech Presidency.


What are the priorities you wish to pursue in the field of sport?
FN: Together with our TRIO partners France and Sweden we set an ambitious programme in the EU Work Plan for Sport for the period 2021-2024 with the main focus on promoting sustainability in sport. France has made the initial step in the sustainability theme and now the Czech Presidency took over the Presidency baton and will take over by focusing on the sustainability and accessibility of sports infrastructure.

When we first started thinking about the way to tackle the subject, we realized that sustainability can be promoted in sports infrastructure on so many levels. Environmental sustainability and promoting climate-neutral sports infrastructure is an essential approach of our work, and we want to point out the ways how to begin.

When we look at the structure of European sports facilities, we see that they are not ready for the demands of the 21st century. But before we start with building and renovating existing capacities, we should firstly look at our current sports infrastructure stock and use or reuse it efficiently to stop wasting scarce resources.

The recent surge of energy prices is also a major theme for our discussion as energy-efficient buildings and solutions can contribute to solving the problem of their economically sustainable operations. We need to accelerate the process of implementing sustainable solutions to preserve practice opportunities and keep our sports facilities open to the public.
The accessibility part of our work focuses on ensuring that the sports infrastructure environment has equal and inclusive conditions for access. Physical accessibility is about creating barrier-free access to sports infrastructure.

The location accessibility speaks about difficulties people may encounter when trying to locate sports infrastructure in various settings. Equally important is also ensuring access to sports and sports infrastructure regardless of the socio-economic background of sport participants.

Will other topics be covered in the next six months?
FN: We have also prepared a debate on the role that professional athletes can play to promote values such as tolerance, solidarity, inclusiveness, as well as the impact they may have on society. Professional athletes have a massive following on social networks with easy access to different social groups that might not be normally addressed by traditional communication channels. If these athletes work well with this power and influence, they can have a positive impact on their followers.


Interview by Sophie LOPEZ

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Journal 53, sport and citizenship 53

Sport et citoyenneté