Letter from the ICSSPE President to Global Leaders in Sport, Health and Education

Berlin, 7th May 2020

Appeal to secure physical activity, physical education, and sport on all performance levels during the Corona Pandemic.

Dear Director Generals and Presidents, dear Ms Azoulay, dear Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, dear Dr Bach, dear Mr Parsons,


The past few weeks have proven a decrease in the spread of the coronavirus in some parts of the world. Globally, several governments have applied significant measures to slow the multiplier effect, while others have not yet peaked. Among others, actions have included stay-at-home mandates. However, regular physical activity remains an important strategy for staying healthy during this period. Moderate physical activity is associated with better immune functioning. It is also associated with lower levels of anxiety and perceived stress. This implies that during stressful times such as this, people need to move more and sit less throughout the day.


To protect those who are at greatest risk of developing severe complications from COVID – 19, exercising in gymnasia and fitness centres is to be avoided. Exercise at home or in neighbourhoods appears to be a preferred means to maintain or enhance physical activity until there is a vaccine to stop the spread.


The future provides us with opportunities to rethink and reimagine our world including additional concepts for the inclusion of health-enhancing physical activity into our daily lives. The 2030 Agenda of the United Nations, the UNESCO Kazan Action Plan adopted at MINEPS VI and the Global Action Plan on Physical Activity of WHO, together, provide an excellent basis for further thinking and planning.


Therefore, we request that, under such a visionary approach, you share with your member states and member organisations the importance of including physical activity, physical education, as well as competitive sport in all plans as we look ahead to the future.

ICSSPE encourages WHO, UNESCO, the IOC as well as the IPC to:

  • promote the need for more opportunities to be physically active during the pandemic and related shutdown, wherever possible, particularly outdoors, realizing social distancing;
  • ensure the inclusion of physical education, physical activity, and competitive sport as the post-pandemic period begins;
  • emphasise the importance of regular physical education when reopening schools. Several countries, at this time, have decided not to offer physical education, but offer academic subjects to use all physical activity areas for other classes;
  • seek to resume training of athletes on all performance levels, with consideration and provision of WHO guidelines.

You may count on the support of the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education for any further action in this matter, and I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,
Uri Schaefer, Ph. D.