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Minister on the occasion of the Day of Slovenian Sport: Sport should remain accessible to everyone to the greatest extent possible

Tomorrow marks 23 years since the Slovenian anthem was heard at the Olympic Games for the first time. This was a very important event in Slovenian history, which is why this date was chosen as the day to celebrate Slovenian sports. To mark this year’s Day of Slovenian Sport, the Bank of Slovenia has issued a new collector coin.

On this occasion, Minister Han stated, “Slovenian flags never fly as proudly and our hearts never beat as unanimously as when we cheer on our top athletes at largest sporting events. Sport is a source of satisfaction, fun and pride. It connects us through all periods of life, regardless of age, gender or political affiliation.

That's the reason we started to give back to sport what it has been giving us all this time. Also with the aim that it remains accessible to everyone to the greatest extent possible. Since our Ministry became responsible for this field, we have been increasing funds for all segments of sport and we are also planning several legislative improvements.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all sportsmen and women, volunteers, and all those who work in sports, officials and, last but not least, parents, for everything they have given to Slovenia in the field of sport.

We know how beneficial it is for our health and wellbeing. So I invite you to attend one of the many activities organised today or during this week within the framework of the Day of Slovenian Sport or the European Week of Sport. And let the sport remain part of your daily lives.”

The importance of sport for our everyday lives

Sport has a number of positive effects on society. The impact it has on every person is important in any period of life. It supports the suitable development of children’s motor skills, acts as a means of relaxation in the period of work activity and necessary physical movement with a beneficial impact on adults’ health. Furthermore, movement and appropriate sporting activities are crucial for maintaining the vitality of the elderly.

In addition to the positive impact on physical and mental health, sport is also an efficient tool for personal growth, socialising and integration. Sport helps to build integrity, respect and the acceptance of diversity. It plays an important role in the development of values such as justice, solidarity and the respect for human rights. And finally, the sporting achievements of our athletes connect and bring people together to form a solid community.

Besides numerous beneficial effects on people’s health, wellbeing and satisfaction, sport also has an extensive economic impact that is displayed through the organisation of large sporting events and the industry based on sports. Large sporting spectacles and sports equipment present a major economic opportunity for Slovenian companies and enhance the country’s visibility abroad.

Sport and tourism are becoming ever more inseparably linked since modern tourists crave new experiences and adventures. Large sporting events serve as a good way for tourists and sports fans to get to know a country.

Based on a multitude of positive effects, sport is in the public interest and as a result the financing falls in the domain of the state. Some EUR 41.2 million has been earmarked for the Annual Sports Programme this year, which is one fifth more than in 2022.

Additionally, we also enhanced the dialogue with industry federations and increased the available funds for sports programmes. We outlined systematic investing in sports infrastructure as well. In the next five years, EUR 150 million will be invested in gyms, stadiums and other infrastructure owned by municipalities.

European Sport Model

During the Slovenian Presidency of the EU in 2021, Slovenia highlighted three key topics for further development of sport in Europe. After the COVID-19 pandemic, the world and subsequently sport was in a critical period resulting in reduced physical activity in society and a drop in general health. At the same time, sport was under an increasing pressure of commercialisation and thus under the threat of a breakdown of the structural arrangement as we knew it and which enabled its wide reach. As a result, three topics were highlighted as crucial at the given moment for the preservation, enhancement and development of sport in the coming period, i.e. the European Sport Model, promotion of lifelong physical activity and dual careers of athletes.

With the adoption of the Resolution of the Council on the key features of the European Sport Model, Slovenia attained an important agreement with the EU member states in the field of sport. The European Sport Model promotes inclusion in sporting activities for all citizens irrespective of their age, gender, abilities or social background. The European Sport Model sets the main objective of sports organisation across Europe to promote physical activity, health and social integration, rather than focusing on making a profit. The Model is characterised by decentralised management, which means that sports organisations and clubs enjoy a high degree of autonomy in their work without excessive involvement of the state. Participation in sport by all citizens irrespective of their age, gender, abilities or social background is promoted. While emphasising sport as a social factor and the education of young athletes, the European Sport Model enhances the values that contribute to a healthier and more connected social environment. A pyramidal structure is anticipated, i.e. one federation per sport. Federations, sports clubs and associations are frequently the main holders of the activity and thus play a crucial role in the organisation of sporting activities on local, regional and national levels.

With the Resolution, the European ministers advocate sport which excites and unites people, does not exclude them and is accessible to all. Member states have come together in their fight against excessive commercialisation and violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms in sport. By means of the Resolution, the member states called on the sports movement to respect fundamental human rights and subsequently adopt responsible decisions relating to the hosts of major sporting events in the European Union and elsewhere.

In addition to the European Sport Model, the EU member states also adopted the Conclusions on lifelong physical activity, which highlight the importance of physical activity for health and wellbeing of citizens of the European Union. The Conclusions call on the development of programmes to monitor physical performance, harmonise physical activity indicators between the EU countries and promote inter-sectoral approach to physical activities’ policies beneficial to health. They also strive for better opportunities for the disadvantaged to participate in sport and engage in physical activity. Furthermore, the Conclusions emphasise the synergies with digital tools and cooperation with several sectors to promote physical activity. By adopting the Council Conclusions, the EU member states obtained a solid basis for further promotion of lifelong physical activity and monitoring of citizens’ physical performance with the help of national policy-making.

The third important topic of the Slovenian Presidency was the dual careers of athletes. The notion of a dual career means that an athlete can combine a sporting career with adjusted education or work through high-quality training with no disproportionate efforts. Although member states have very different approaches in this field, efforts are being strengthened to support young athletes in balancing sport with education and a professional career. Ministerial discussion about further measures was encouraged at the EU level, including modernisation of EU guidelines from 2013, formation of a joint European framework for dual careers or a digital platform to collect and monitor data.

European Week of Sport

The Day of Slovenian Sport coincides with the European Week of Sport, which is an initiative of the European Commission with the aim of encouraging people to be physically active and take care of their health. The European Week of Sport begins every year on 23 September and lasts until 30 September. On 23 September 2003, the first agreement relating to sport in the European Union was adopted at the EU Sport Forum in Bonn. The agreement was an important step towards greater visibility and support for sport at the EU level and the promotion of sporting activities among the EU citizens.

The European Week of Sport is an opportunity for connection, integration and inclusion. It is linked with the programme Dober tek, Slovenija (Enjoy your meal/run, Slovenia), the National Programme on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Health. All EU citizens are encouraged to spend their leisure time actively. 

On the occasion of the Day of Slovenian Sport, 48 interesting sporting events will be organised in 42 Slovenian municipalities under the auspices of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia.

As part of the European Week of Sport between 23 and 30 September, as many as 172 free sporting events will take place in 51 municipalities.

We frequently say that Slovenians have sport in their blood. This is shown in the large number of young athletes and the number of medals won at the largest competitions. Sport is an activity that connects, strengthens and rejuvenates people. Top sporting achievements excite and inspire, while sport in everyday life improves the overall quality of life. Anyone can get involved in sports regardless of their age, gender or social status. The array of events available next week will further enrich our sporting options. So each of us can attend at least one sporting activity.