Prince Feisal emphasises importance of safe sport at ANOCA Gender Equality Forum
Chair of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Safeguarding Working Group, HRH Prince Feisal al Hussein, reiterated the importance of continuing to push for safe sport for all during his keynote speech at the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) Gender Equality Forum in Cape Verde.
IOC Member and Jordan Olympic Committee President Prince Feisal, who is also Vice Chair of the Prevention of Harassment and Abuse in Sport Working Group and Vice Chair of the Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Commission, highlighted the fact that there remain high rates of abuse within sport. Moreover, he emphasised the need for all stakeholders within sport and the Olympic Movement to work together to ensure that children are able to practice, play and enjoy sport without fear of abuse and harassment.
Prince Feisal said: “These statistics are extremely alarming. In elite sports, the minimum representation of sexual abuse and harassment among athletes is 13% – that is one in eight athletes. For other forms of abuse, the statistic goes up to 70%. These are the stark realities that we face and shows the enormity of the task ahead of us.
“Unfortunately, harassment and abuse is part of our society; it is part of human nature. When there is a power discrepancy between a coach, an official or even a player and other team-mates, they can use that in a way that is, in a lot of countries, considered criminal. But that is what we’re facing. It exists in every country in the world and it exists in every sport. Every society suffers from this – some are more vocal about addressing it, while some prefer to ignore it because this is the ugly side of sports. That is unfortunately the attitude a lot of people have.
“A deeply concerning statistic is that 78% of people who have been abused and harassed, don’t realise that they have been abused and harassed. That’s why a lot of our work has to begin with education. We have to educate people over what is acceptable and what is unacceptable behaviour. We have to educate people to look for signs of where there is abuse or potential harassment.”
Prince Feisal ended his speech by acknowledging that safe sport will not be achieved instantly and encouraged ANOCA and the National Olympic Committees in attendance to actively tackle the problem to safeguard the future of sport globally.
He said: “Please help us, help them to deal with this problem. It won’t finish in a day, it won’t be over in years. But like I said, if we don’t tackle it, the future of sports and the integrity of sports, the power of sports will be destroyed by this problem.”
ANOCA’s two-day Gender Equality Forum saw leaders from across Africa and the world come together to hear from experts, take part in panels and discuss how the continent can continue its progress in the area of gender equality. As well as ANOCA President Mustapha Berraf, IOC Members Nawal el Moutawakel, Kirsty Coventry, Dr Filomena Fortes, Matlohang Moiloa-Ramqopo, Felicite Rwemarika, Paul Tergat and Odette Assembe Engoulou were in attendance.
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