Traditional Sports and Games

Traditional sports and games (TSG) can form the backbone of a community, and UNESCO is driven to protect and promote these sports to further community spirit, bring peoples together and install a sense of pride in a society’s cultural roots.

Join UNESCO's Network on Traditional Sports and Games!



Traditional sports and games are part of intangible heritage and a symbol of the cultural diversity of our societies. They are also an efficient means to convey values of solidarity, diversity, inclusiveness and cultural awareness. UNESCO works to preserve, promote and develop TSG, and to ensure that they form an integral part of national and development strategies. These will all enhance our end-goal of sport for peace and development. UNESCO is currently implementing a pilot project to set up training camps in traditional wrestling sports for the youth of 22 African countries.

In the Declaration of Punta del Este [PDF, 3747 KB], adopted by the third International Conference of Ministers and Senior Officials in charge of Physical Education and Sport (MINEPS III), held in December 1999, ministers emphasized the preservation and the appraisal of traditional and indigenous sports from different regional and national cultural heritages, including the establishment of a World Heritage List of Traditional Games and Sports.

Moreover, traditional games and sports reflect on different cultural expressions, and create a bridge between cultures for a better mutual comprehension.

On the occasion of MINEPS III, held in Punta del Este, Uruguay, in 1999, the international community proposed that a significant action from UNESCO could be initiated within the framework for the promotion and preservation of traditional games and sports.

In this regard, two important proposals have been made during MINEPS III. One of them is the publication of a world heritage list of traditional games and sports and the other the implementation of an incentive framework for the promotion and the preservation of these sports that should lead to the establishment of an "International Platform" for traditional games and sports.

The preservation and promotion of traditional games and sports is a fundamental contribution for the valorization of such an important and essential field for the intangible world cultural heritage.

Most of the traditional games and sports, expressions of indigenous cultures and ways of life contributing to the common identity of humanity, have already disappeared and those that are surviving are threatened of imminent disappearance and extinction under the combined effect of globalization and harmonization of the rich diversity of world sport heritage. Traditional Games and Sports then become an added value in terms of cultural comprehension and mutual tolerance both within the community of nations and between them, and therefore contribute to the edification of a culture of Peace.

MINEPS IV [PDF, 184 KB] highlighted the importance of traditional sports and games and recommended concrete provisions for its promotion and development. The 33rd session of UNESCO’s General Conference drew on these recommendations to design the Organisation’s strategies regarding traditional sports and games.

As a result, the Resolution 33C/R.21 [PDF, 1631 KB] enabled the organisation of a collective consultation at UNESCO’s headquarters, on 13 March 2006, aimed at creating an international platform for the promotion and development of traditional sports and games. In this meeting, a concrete roadmap and an agenda for action were adopted. It was decided that the platform would be launched on the occasion of the International Festival of Traditional Wrestling, which took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in November 2006, with a followup seminar in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in December 2006.

We must continue to preserve and encourage Traditional Games and Sports, cultural heritage of humanity, guarantee of enrichment for societies, memories of civilizations.

See also:

 

Back to top