Celebration gala announced as United Through Sports Virtual Youth Festival ends

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The United Through Sports Virtual Youth Festival has concluded ©YouTube/United Through Sports

The United Through Sports (UTS) World Virtual Youth Festival has concluded after five days of online competitions and conferences aimed at increasing youth participation in sport and furthering inclusion.

A Closing Ceremony was held today, promoting messages of inclusion, non-discrimination, equality and peace, and the hybrid ceremony was broadcast on YouTube to a global audience and partially staged in Bangkok.

Paralympic Committee of Thailand President Chutinant Bhirombhakdi, Sports Authority of Thailand governor Gongsak Yodmanee, Taekwondo Association of Thailand President Pimol Srivikorn and Naris Chaiyasoot of Special Olympics Thailand were among the speakers.

UTS President Stephan Fox also gave a speech and identified four values as being crucial to the Virtual Youth Festival.

The first was inclusion and solidarity, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC), International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and Special Olympics International (SOI) coming together to support the event was praised as an example of this.

Equality, as demonstrated by all young people being able to take part regardless of ability or any impairments, and non-discrimination were two more crucial values.

Peace promotion was the last.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al Faisal, President of the Saudi Arabia Olympic Committee, was the final speaker and offered for the country to stage the Virtual Youth Festival in 2021.

The Closing Ceremony also featured musical performances.

Five different competitions took place as part of the festival – in max fit, aero fit and talent disciplines, plus the IPC Inclusive Sports Challenge and the Special Olympics Unified Fitness Challenge.

Winners were crowded in the latter two competitions today, while a gala night has been launched to announce winners of the first three.

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Titled “Leaving a Legacy Behind”, it is scheduled to be held on December 19.

Three further panel discussions were held today, with the first on the topic of “Fair Play in Sport”. 

World Anti-Doping Agency Education Committee member Kady Kanouté Tounkara, Danka Barteková, vice-chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, and Chelsey Gotell, IPC Athletes’ Council chairperson and a WADA Athlete Committee member, were all panellists.

“Athletes United: Power of the Athletes” focused on what athletes can achieve with their voices, and urged young people to use their platform for change.

Stefany Hernández, Venezuela’s Rio 2016 BMX bronze medallist and United States Paralympian and activist Scout Bassett both contributed.

The final panel featured IOC Athletes’ Commission chair Kirsty Coventry, IOC sport director Kit McConnell, IPC President Andrew Parsons and UTS President Fox under the title “Sport Leaders United”.

All spoke of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the sporting world and discussed potential remedies to future challenges.

The UTS Virtual Youth Festival brought Olympic and non-Olympic sports together under the patronage of the IOC, IPC, SOI, SportAccord and the Global Association of International Sports Federations.

More than 100 organisations gave the Virtual Youth Festival their backing.



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