International Day of University Sport


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We celebrate the International Day of University Sport on September 20.



Photo credit, from top to bottom: Markus Spiske, Isaiah Rustad, Josh Calabrese.

University sport has a very special place in the sporting world as a vector of human, social and civic values, fully integrated into the education of today’s and tomorrow’s citizens.

By putting sport at the heart of dialogue between teachers and students, the International Day of University Sport, celebrated by UNESCO and the International University Sports Federation, aims to promote these values among young adults and, through them, to society as a whole.

Dialogue, self-respect and respect for others, fair play and pursuit of excellence are all framing principles of student training. Education and sport need to be at the core of our societies, and this Day provides a forum to highlight the social role of universities and their curricula by making sport available to all and encouraging people to exercise regularly.

Celebration of this Day also provides an opportunity for UNESCO to reaffirm its commitment to individual and collective development through sport and education, as stated in the International Charter of Physical Education, Physical Activity and Sport and the International Convention against Doping in Sport.


“The ideal of the University, contained in the very etymology of the word, aspires to the comprehensive development of skills and the acquisition of universal knowledge. This knowledge is not confined to the intellectual sphere: it includes knowledge of one’s self, and knowledge of one’s body, of its possibilities and limitations. This complementarity between mind and body, this balanced and harmonious development of the self, constitute the essence of university sport; they reflect the ancient wisdom expressed in Juvenal’s well-known words: mens sana in corpore sano.

Sport opens up new horizons and gives joy and satisfaction at all ages. When practised in peer groups within the framework of the University, enhanced by its inclusion in a prestigious, institutional setting, sport is for young people, at a critical time in their lives, a formidable tool for individual and collective development. It promotes values as essential as fair play, respect, team spirit, responsibility and perseverance, and enriches in an inspiring way the students’ disciplines. It helps talents bloom, enables the discovery of new forms of play and interaction, and encourages excellence.”

— Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO

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How to get involved

International days are celebrations and calls to action. They are for everyone to participate in. This is how you can take part in an International Day in three simple steps.


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Why are International Days important? They provide unique opportunities to transmit UNESCO values to the world.


International days also provide a unique opportunity to engage citizens on global issues, to mobilise political will and resources to address these problems, but also to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity as well as remember some of our darkest times as they guide us towards building a better world.

The United Nations International Days are for everyone, all around the globe. Because they are open, you can have an important role to play in them. NGOs, universities, schools, press and more will be putting together campaigns, events, and calls to action worldwide to provide further opportunities to engage, learn, and transmit the values and knowledge associated with each International Day. They serve as an important vehicle to connect the local to the international.

At their root, UN International Days contribute to the achievement of the purposes of the UN Charter and promote awareness of and action on important political, social, cultural, humanitarian or human rights issues. International days are at the heart of the United Nations Charter. They work to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as neighbours, and to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.

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