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call for input | Special Procedures

Call for input on the right to participate in sports

Issued by

Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights


10 May 2024

Purpose: To inform the upcoming report of the Special Rapporteur to the General Assembly to be presented in October 2024

For her upcoming report to the General Assembly to be presented in October 2024, the United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Ms. Alexandra Xanthaki, will consider the right to participate in sports.

The human right to participate in sports is part of everyone’s right to participate in cultural life. As culture is a broad, inclusive concept encompassing all aspects of human existence, it also includes sports. Cultural rights protect the rights for each person, individually and in community with others as well as groups of people, to develop and express their humanity, their world view and the meanings they give to their existence and their development through, inter alia, values, beliefs, convictions, languages, knowledge and the arts, institutions and ways of life. They are also considered as protecting access to cultural heritage and resources that allow such identification and development processes to take place.

At its core, the right to participate in sports encompasses the freedom, either individually or in community with others, to engage in sporting activities without discrimination, regardless of factors such as age, colour, sex and gender, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status. It acknowledges the importance of sports in promoting physical and mental well-being, fostering social inclusion and cultural expression, and nurturing personal development. The right also protects alternative forms of sport and play. 

Several international instruments support the recognition of the right to sport, through protecting for example the right to rest and leisure, the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, the right of the child to engage in play, recreational activities, and sports, the right of persons with disabilities to participate in sports, and the right of women and men to have equal opportunities to participate in sports. 

The Special Rapporteur intends to emphasise the importance of adopting a cultural rights approach towards sport and play, placing the right to sport within the framework of cultural rights. With this in mind, she intends to examine the scope of the right; the role of sports in cultural expression and cultural participation of people and peoples; challenges and best practices related to access to and participation in sports in general and in particular with respect to women, LGBTQI+ persons and persons of varied gender identity, persons with disabilities, migrants and refugees, and other vulnerable and marginalized groups; obstacles in the access and participation of children and older persons; the role of commercialization and professionalization in marginalizing participation; the socio-economic conditions necessary to ensure equal access and participation and the role of governance and accountability impacting the right to participate in sports. It is also important to consider the extent to which the exercise of all sports carries values that are in accordance with human rights, including cultural rights and promote cultural diversity.

Key questions and types of input/comments sought

Download the questionnaire:
Word: English | Français | Español
PDF: English | Français | Español

Please select and answer the questions most relevant for your organization / entity. Kindly limit your responses to 3,000 words and attach annexes where necessary.

To facilitate their consideration, please send responses in a Word document, and in English, French or Spanish.

Please clearly specify the entity making the contribution on the document itself and add paragraph numbers.

All submissions will be posted on the OHCHR website.

Next Steps

Input/comments may be sent by e-mail/fax/postal mail. They must be received by 10 May 2023.

Email address: [email protected]

Email subject line: Submission: Right to participate in sports

Word limit: 3000 words

File formats: Word

Accepted languages: English, Spanish, French

Postal address:
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH 1211 Geneva 10