Olympic and Paralympic Games 2016 − Sport gets things moving!

German development cooperation presents its Sport for Development activities in Rio de Janeiro.

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    In our projects, young people learn to take responsibility – for themselves and for others. ©GIZ/Florian Kopp
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    Dr Tania Braga, Sustainability, Accessibility and Legacy Head of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games Organising Committee, contributes her input on the event. ©GIZ/Marco Terranova
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    Britta Heidemann, Olympic fencing gold-medallist and Sport for Development ambassador, promoting the potential of sport. ©GIZ/Kathrin Schmid

The Olympic Summer Games began in Rio de Janeiro on Friday, 5 August, with a spectacular opening ceremony. Brazil and the city of Rio have invested a lot in the games. As with other major sporting events, it is questionable how far this investment will bring sustainable developments for society. How can the games be managed so that they benefit a broad section of the population as well as the city itself? What challenges do they pose to the environment? And how can mega sporting events be staged with transparency?

At the invitation of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), as well as GIZ and the Goethe-Institut Rio, an international group of experts from politics, economics, sports and culture discussed these questions at the conference ‘MEGA ↔ SUSTAINABILITY − Sustainability of mega sporting events’. The conference was opened by German Ambassador, Dirk Brengelmann, and General Secretary of the Goethe-Institut, Johannes Ebert. The numerous expert contributors to the debate included Dr Tania Braga, Sustainability, Accessibility and Legacy Head of the games organising committee, Dr Michael Vesper, Chair of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), Dr Dawid Danilo Bartelt, Chair of the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Brazil, and Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace.

In working groups on human rights, ecological sustainability, urban development and good governance, prominent figures developed recommendations for ensuring the sustainable configuration of mega sporting events. Central factors include the early, active and sustained integration of local people in the application process, as well as the formulation of realistic sustainability goals. Transparency, accountability and good governance on the part of all involved also have a big part to play. Until now, the control mechanisms have been lacking that would guarantee the fulfilment of the major promises made so often during the application process. This results in dissatisfaction among the residents of the host cities and triggers the large-scale loss of credibility on the part of the organisers and of international sport in general. Ricardo Leyser Gonçalves, a former minister of sport and the current chair of Rio’s Municipal Olympic Company, welcomed the experts’ recommendations and promised to make public all the data that is gathered over the course of the games. 

The results of the conference also constitute an appeal to international sports organisations: good governance starts with them. The excessive expectations of candidate cities cause them to make unrealistic promises which do not take local circumstances into consideration, and the fulfilment of these promises is not subject to any external control.

German development cooperation also recognises the potential of sport as an instrument for achieving development goals. For many years, on behalf of BMZ, GIZ has integrated its Sport for Development approach into projects and programmes all around the world, especially for the promotion of children and young people. Sport for Development is used in the municipalities of Rio to enhance and expand our interventions for the promotion of health and education, and for the prevention of violence When utilised in a pedagogically appropriate manner, sport can strengthen people’s self-confidence and impart important skills to children and young people.

German development cooperation is using the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio to present its activities in Brazil. In the German Consulate’s OliAle Pavilion on Leblon Beach, visitors can spend time learning about Brazilian-German cooperation in the field of ecological sustainability, or they can try out the Sport for Development approach themselves, in an interactive training session. Even before the start of the games, Germany’s fencing gold-medallist and Sport for Development ambassador, Britta Heidemann, visited a number of ongoing German development cooperation measures in Rio. Having been impressed by the work our partner organisation Promundo is doing in Guararapes, she will raise awareness during the games about the potential benefits of Sport for Development. The Sports Committee of the German Bundestag will also visit German development cooperation projects in Rio, as will Wilfried Lemke.

On a dedicated international day, young people from the German Olympic Youth Camp, which was organised under the umbrella of DOSB by Deutsche Sportjugend (German Sport Youth) and the German Olympic Academy, will join other young people from our Brazilian partner organisations in elaborating their ideals on how a sustainable Olympic host city should look. On another day, the young Germans will also visit their Brazilian counterparts’ communities and projects. On 16 August, in the DOSB’s German House, they can then share their impressions during a panel discussion on ‘Sport for development and sustainability’, involving Brazilian and German politicians, as well as Britta Heidemann and Brazilian FIFA World Cup winning footballer, Jorginho. 

You can follow the activities in Rio on social media, using the hashtag #SportForDevRio.

Let the games begin!

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BMZ/GIZ/DOSB Factsheet: Olympic & Paralympic Games 2016 − Sport gets things moving!