ONOC collaborates with USP and Sport Matters to observe the International Day of Persons with Disability (IDPD) 2021

December 12, 2021

The event took place this week, 7 December, at the University of the South Pacific (USP), Statham Campus in Suva, Fiji, with the theme, “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”

The hybrid event, attended by 47 participants, both online and in person, explored the ideas, voices and recommendations of speakers from across the region to promote inclusive physical education.

The session also explored the rights to sport enshrined in the Olympic Charter and USP’s efforts to advance sports, physical activity and physical education in the Pacific.  

Jackie Lauff, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sport Matters and a board member of the International Relations Commission (IRC) of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) shared how Physical Education is not prioritised in many Pacific Island countries.

Jackie Lauff, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Sport Matters and a board member of the International Relations Commission (IRC) of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) | Photo: ONOC Communications

“We especially wanted to focus our discussion today on physical education in schools across the Pacific and unpack the experience of inclusion versus exclusion faced by students with disabilities,” Lauff said.  

“When it comes to sports and disability inclusion, it’s easy to straight away associate images of athletes competing in international competitions like the Paralympic Games.”

Lauff elaborated on how the International Olympic Movement caters for athletes with disabilities.

“The three values of Olympism are excellence, friendship and respect. They constitute the foundation on which the Olympic Movement builds its activities to promote sport, culture and education with a view to building a better world,” she said.

“This year at the postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games the word “Together” was added to the Olympic Games theme of “Faster. Higher. Stronger” highlighting our global shared experience of the pandemic and isolation, that we may be apart but we are not alone - we are all in this together.

“The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games brought a much-needed sense of unity and hope this year and highlighted the endurance and resilience of the human spirit.”

She also stated how the newly launched initiative by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) called Olympism365 would position the Olympic Movement alongside the Sustainable Development Agenda and their commitment to leave no one behind.  

“With this event we are weaving together the rights-based agenda for IDPD, the right to physical education, physical activity and sport, for everyone – regardless of ability,” she said.

“Stronger quality physical education in schools will set our Pacific children on a path to happier, resilient and healthier lives and pave the way for stronger communities, a stronger sport sector, and a more productive Pacific.”

Maritino Nemani, the Executive Director, People and Workforce Strategy at USP and a member of ONOC’s International Relations Commission was a keynote speaker at the event, who shared how sports paved the way for his success.

“As an athlete, administrator and most recently as former Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Fiji, I personally value the role that sport has played in my life,” Nemani said.

“I welcome the topic of our event today connecting the dots between physical education, physical activity and sport and taking steps together to ensure access, equity and inclusion so that no one is left behind on and off the playing field.”

Nemani also commended the ONOC and USP collaboration for sports information, sports research and more recently sports journalism.

“Many of us cheered and celebrated our sporting heroes at the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games and with those memories fresh in our minds, this is an opportune time to reflect on the values that underpin sport, and why sport is recognised as an important vehicle for sustainable development,” he explained.

A Para-Table Tennis Gold Medallist, Ioane Hawaii emphasized on how people should consider one’s abilities instead of their disability to fully move towards an inclusive society.

Other speakers at the event included Mr Leslie Tikotikoca, a para-athlete and disability rights advocate with Ms Reema Alpana, a graduate assistant in Special and Inclusive Education at USP, who shared personal insights on the importance of inclusiveness in education across the region.


About ONOC 
Established in 1981, the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) is one of five Continental Associations. It looks after the interests of 17 member nations in the Oceania Region, including Australia and New Zealand as well as seven associate members. 

ONOC has an office in Guam where Secretary General Mr. Ricardo Blas is based and the Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, where the Office of the President Dr Robin Mitchell is located.

All services and-programmes are based on the ONOC Strategic Plan for 2018-2021, and its 4 Core Functions of (1) Building and Strengthening NOCs Capacity (2) Cultivating Strategic Partnerships (3) Contributing towards Sporting Excellence and (4) Leading by Example.


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