We are grateful for convening this debate on agenda item 11 of the plenary meeting, entitled: Sport for development and peace: building a peaceful and better world through sport and the Olympic ideal, under which draft resolutions A/74/L.18 and A/74/L.24 have been submitted, both co-sponsored by our delegation.
We take this opportunity to thank the delegations of Japan and Armenia for the presentation of both drafts, and for their performance during the negotiations.
The examination of this issue within the UN endorses its value as a determining factor for development and peace.
We reaffirm, as established by UNESCO, that the practice of physical education and sport is a fundamental right for all, contributing to the complete and harmonious development of the human being.
It must be ensured that the mechanisms and institutions for the exercise of this right exist and function without discrimination or limitations.
In this regard, although progress has been made at the international level, much remains to be done to systematically ensure and guarantee the exercise of this right by children, women, senior citizens as well as persons with disabilities. In this context, care must also be taken to ensure that the technological component does not replace the benefits derived from the social interaction and that the urban infrastructure definitely meets the demands and needs of these groups so that they can move forward without barriers or obstacles.
On the other hand, work must be done to change the perception of sports as one more task or as a hobby for some people. Sport and physical education must be part of our culture of life, a built-in component of our daily activities.
After the triumph of the Cuban Revolution on January 1st, 1959, sport became a right for all the Cuban people, in the best interest of their quality of life. Mass participation in sports from that date to the present day is one of the main achievements of our Revolution, under the leadership of its foremost architect, Commander Fidel Castro Ruz.
In order to turn this principle into a reality, the practice of sport in Cuba was established as a constitutional right. The Constitution recently approved by the National Assembly of the People's Power and ratified in a popular referendum on February 24th, 2019, lays down in its set of articles and I quote, that:
“People have the right to physical education, sports and recreation as essential elements of their quality of life.
The curricula of the national education system guarantee the inclusion of the teaching and practice of physical education and sports as part of the comprehensive training of children, adolescents and youths.
The State creates the conditions for ensuring the necessary resources allocated to the promotion and practice of sport and the recreation of the people, as well as for the training, support and development of sports talents.”
The institutionalization of sport in Cuba led to the establishment of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Culture and Recreation, the governing body of the Cuban sports movement, to which specialized educational centers and sports facilities are subordinated.
The training of high-performance athletes is a priority, as well as ensuring the quality of their careers in sports. The Cuban people are proud of all the athletes who, with their sacrifice and dedication have placed our small island at the top.
The promotion of the physical culture of our people, as well as the quality in the training of athletes is internationally recognized. In this regard, Cuba has shared its best practices and expertise in response to the requests for cooperation made by a large number of developing countries.
We reiterate our rejection of attempts to politicize sport, as well as actions aiming at the theft of sport talents, particularly of athletes from developing countries. This negative practice must end.
Sport must be seen as a bridge to peace, development promotion and understanding.
Thank you very much.