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Australia’s first foray in Pacific Sports Ministers meeting encouraging

Australia’s Minister for Youth and Sports, Richard Colbeck, said some Pacific Sports Minsters have expressed interest in the country’s National Sports Plan 2030 as they look to develop their own.

Speaking after the two day Sports Minister’s Meeting in Apia this week, Mr. Colbeck said he was particularly struck by the consensus on sports integrity, and how to protect in in locally relevant ways.

According to the official outcome statement, the Ministers were concerned at the “ongoing manipulation in sports at national, regional and global competitions.”

“While we might be dealing with our issues, it manifests at a local level very differently,” the Minister said.

“So how we manage that, and work together to do that is part of the cooperation and the engagement.”

Australia’s Pacific Step Up white paper includes a large sports diplomacy package for the region. 

It includes a continuation of the A$35 million Pacific Sports Partnerships programme, and a new Australia-Pacific Sports Linkages programme worth $40 million.

Mr. Colbeck said the plan is about accessing partnerships through the universal language of sport, not only between athletes but also officials, sponsors and administrators.

Australia’s engagement is both financial and technical, and the Tasmanian Senator believes the key to developing elite athleticism is through building participation. 

“Building up participation actually does, in time, deliver right through to elite sports people. It builds culture, and it builds relationships.

“I have had the opportunity to participate in a few international sporting things in the last four or five weeks and it really does allow you to engage.”

Another hot topic for the Sports Ministers was inclusiveness for people with historically less access to professional sport in the region like women or disabled people. 

Ministers agreed sport is an important vehicle for driving the Sustainable Development Agenda, and said they need to invest in more data gathering and analysis to meaningfully assess that. 

The Ministers also agreed to consider signing or ratifying international the Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions (Macolin Convention), which will come into force this September. It is the only piece of international law on crime in sports. 

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