International Day for Persons with Disabilities event emphasises need for sports participation


The University of the South Pacific (USP), in collaboration with the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) and Sports Matters, commemorated the International Day for Persons with Disability 2021 on 8 December.

The event focused on the right to high-quality physical education, the Olympic principles and rights to sports inherent in the Olympic Movement, and USP’s efforts to promote sports, physical activity and education in the Pacific.

USP Executive Director People and Workforce Strategy, Mr Jone Nemani said USP established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (the DEIC) three years ago under the USP Governance structure to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion across the University.

Mr Nemani said DEIC collaborates with internal and external stakeholders to facilitate communication and coordination on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion.

He stressed that this was a significant occasion as they recognise and reflect on the progress made in realising and defending the rights of people with special needs to live entire and active lives.

“In terms of sports, USP has made significant success in recent years by partnering with a variety of regional and international partners,” Mr Nemani said.

Sport Matters CEO, Ms Jackie Lauff expressed her delight at joining USP in commemorating International Day for People with Disabilities.

“This is an important day to remember and reflect on the progress made toward realising the rights of people with disabilities to live full and active lives,” she said.

“Sport Matters is happy to have worked with USP and ONOC on sport and physical education for many years. I am thrilled to be able to join after many months and many obstacles as we all dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.”

She said that it was also crucial to note that sports were now recognised as a critical enabler of development in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Unless there is devoted investment and concerted action to leave no one behind, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals will never be fulfilled.”

Mr Ioane Hawaii, a para-athlete and disability rights champion spoke about his experiences as a disabled person.

He enjoys playing table tennis and hopes to set an example for people in Tuvalu who face discrimination.

He began table tennis in 2014 and competed for the first time in Fiji in 2015. In contests, he has earned silver.

He recommended everyone living with a disability to consider and focus on their abilities.

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