How would you describe the relevance and the role of governmental activities concerning sports?
RB: The role of State is to act in co-operation with the autonomous sports organisations, to ensure that it delivers benefits for society. Many gains are expected from sports for public health, social cohesion, etc – potential for integration of society. At the same time I highly value the contribution of sports to education, its economic relevance and other benefits.
We do share your enthusiasm for sports; however do you personally think it actually keep its promises? Sport is sometimes expression of violence, racism…
RB: I mentioned that potential role of sports is to deliver these benefits. Of course, it can also have negative side-effects: doping, violence, discrimination… Sport reflects the societies where it takes place; it can produce good and bad externalities; but at the same time – sport can and is influencing societies, where it takes place, in a positive manner.
If we expect positive outcomes for the whole society, we have to invest positive values in sports, to co-operate with sports organisations and to have idols for raising interest for sports in younger generations. Investments in sports infrastructure are also essential.
I can say that in Latvia lot of work has been made to reach these goals. One of excellent examples is won medals in the last Olympic Games. Latvia is leader on gained medals per capita. Sports movement, as well as public authorities, have to take care for the values invested in sports. Those who are in charge for sports have the responsibility and tools to ensure that it is based on solid ethical values.
What is or shall be the role of international co-operation in this process?
RB: International co-operation, indeed, is very important. For example, within the Council of Europe, plays a respected role. Together with the European Sports Charter, which includes guidelines on the development of sports policies, a Code of sports ethics has been adopted. Nowadays, the EPAS is continuing the work of the former CDDS. By the way, the first Ministerial Conference organised by the EPAS (2008) was on Sports Ethics and most activities of the EPAS are related to ethics in sports.
The EU, which has its competence in sports for limited time, and used to focus mostly on issues related to the implementation of competition or freedom of movement, is now more and more focusing on the values of sports, as described in the recently published Communication document.
Action of the Council of Europe and the EU in the field of sports has demonstrated the added value and ensured sharing good practice among the countries. There are many things we cannot do alone. Co-operation and solidarity are the keywords for a win-win solution in sports, both at policy making level and in practice.