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IAAF World Athletics Championship 2019 – sport as a unifying force worldwide

Katharina Trost (right) from Germany at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha

Katharina Trost (right) from Germany at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, © dpa

27.09.2019 - Article

The IAAF World Athletics Championships 2019 start in Doha today, with Israel and Iran among the participating nations. The Federal Foreign Office supports projects worldwide aimed at developing sport, strengthening civil society and fostering tolerance.

From today, 71 athletes from Germany will be the second-largest team at the IAAF World Athletics Championships 2019, which open today in Doha and end on 6 October. When there is political tension between countries, sport can build new bridges and re-establish communication in society.

However, Germany is not only active in sports promotion around the world as regards the major championships. Since 1961, the German Government has provided support to over 1500 projects in a huge range of sports in more than 140 countries. By supporting sport internationally, Germany aims to provide political impetus for strengthening civil society in developing countries. Specifically, this involves fostering team spirit, mutual respect, tolerance and fairness. In 2019, the Federal Foreign Office allocated almost five million euros to sports funding.

Building lasting structures

The main aim of Germany’s sports promotion is to set up and expand mass sport in the partner countries. That is why it supports local association work, with German experts often training multipliers for mass sport in the partner countries. Training local trainers is thus a priority. The universities of Mainz and Leipzig offer special international training courses, in which over 4000 people have already been trained in swimming, basketball or parasports. German embassies can also support local structures by donating sports equipment.

Political impact of sports promotion

Since 2015, the Federal Foreign Office has been working more closely on sports projects with NGOS that also pursue political aims in their work. One example is the women and girls’ football project in the Gambia in which the renowned trainer and former German women’s football team member Monika Staab is involved. The aim is to empower women and girls to stand up more for equal opportunities. The sports programmes funded by Germany in various refugee camps in Ethiopia and Lebanon also aim to boost self-confidence and understanding. Germany supports a project in Colombia in which ex-militia m embers play sport with former opponents from the population, thus taking a step towards greater acceptance and normality. Germany is also very active in the field of inclusion in its sports promotion. For example, the Federal Foreign Office funds courses for specially trained parasports referees and actively supports the German Sports Confederation’s Paralympic team at events, including the forthcoming Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

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