The first ever European Week of Sport will be held in September as part of plans to combat the decline in physical activity across the continent.
Taking place from 7-13 September, the initiative is being driven by the European Commission (EC) and will be organised at national, regional and local level and is structured to include themes and activities that appeal to all audiences.
The EC is encouraging clubs, gyms, schools, universities, employers and volunteer groups to register and take part by organising their own European Week of Sport-themed activities – intended to attract people who are currently inactive.
“European Week of Sport events can be large or small,” a spokesperson for the scheme said. “From new ideas to something you were already planning. Anything that gets people active qualifies – from tennis open days to organised walks.”
The week is structured around four “focus days” – education environment; workplace; outdoors; and sport clubs and fitness centres.
Confirmed events happening across Europe include Bring a Buddy Parkrun, fancy dress runs, family fun days, bike rides, sports club open days and taster sessions in a number of sports.
European Week of Sport comes at a time when participation in sport and physical activity is stagnating across European Union member states – and in some even declining.
According to the latest Eurobarometer on Physical Activity, 59 per cent of EU citizens “never or seldom” exercise or play sport – but 37 per cent sit more than 5.5 hours per day.
When asked for barriers to take part in sport, 42 per cent cited shortage of time while a further 20 per cent blamed lack of motivation.
The spokesperson for the EC added: “The Week is for everyone – regardless of age, background or fitness level.”
“It should bring together individuals, public authorities, the sport movement, civil society organisations and the private sector. Through the focus on grassroots initiatives, the week will inspire europeans to be active on a regular basis and create opportunities in people’s everyday lives to exercise more.”