On 10 November 2023, the Roundtable Debate “Building European Safe Sport Together” took place during the EOA Congress Vilnius 2023. Under the motto “The Olympic Movement in a Changing World” the Congress of the European Olympic Academies (EOA) addressed challenges that the organised sport and the Olympic Movement are currently facing, with the topic of safeguarding in sport being one of these pressing issues.
The panel discussion, which was held in front of 50 delegates of National Olympic Academies and National Olympic Committees from Europe, was another important step in the dissemination of the project results of BESST. The expert panel, consisting of project partners Miriam Reijnen (NOC*NSF Centre for Safe Sport), Andreja McQuarrie (McQuarrie Consulting) and Alenka Hiti (Rudi Hiti Academy), was complemented by Lithuanian experts Ugne Chmeliauskaite (ENGSO Youth) and Agne Vanagiene (Lithuanian National Olympic Committee). Katrin Wallmann from the EOA chaired the session.
During the debate, aspects such as the prevalence of transgressive behaviour in European sport, what measures can be taken, especially from an educational perspective, and how a cultural change can be achieved as a basis for a harassment and abuse-free European sport environment were deliberated. The panellists shared their experiences in the field of case management and explained why preventive measures must be a core principle embedded at all levels of the sports community. The expert panel agreed that a fundamental change in thinking must take place at all decision-making levels in sport in order to create a safe sporting environment for all participants in the future. In this respect, the National Olympic Academies also play an important role by instilling values of safety, respect, and inclusivity in sports for future athletes and fans.
Overall, the roundtable debate was successfully raising awareness for the topic of safeguarding in sport. Project BESST will be pleased to stay in dialogue with various partners who have shown interest in the progress of the project and are looking forward to an exchange.