On 18 November 2015, Members of the European Parliament have called for a more active promotion of sports including for older persons. AGE Platform Europe and the Italian Kung-Fu Federation FIWUK have demonstrated how Tai Chi can be practiced by people of all ages, including while sitting.
Member of Parliament (MEP) Marian Harkin emphasised that sports are part of inclusion into society and that, therefore, promotion of sports is a fulfilment of article 25 of the European Charter of Fundamental Rights that guarantees the right of older persons to live independently and in dignity. MEP Van Nistelrooij, Coordinator of the EP intergroup subgroup on active ageing and solidarity between generations, highlighted the important benefits to health of sports, including by preventing chronic diseases and preventing falls. Also Mr Tarabella, MEP outlined the work of the intergroup on sports in raising the importance of sports in the European agenda, including for intercultural exchange.
Vincenzo Drago, president of the Italian Federation of Wushu Kung Fu, explained the history of Tai Chi and gave information about an Erasmus+ project that his federation manages and that promotes Tai Chi for older persons and at the workplace. Two Tai Chi masters from Italy gave a demonstration of this Chinese martial art.
Member of the Parliament Alojz Peterle, Vice-President of the intergroup subgroup on active ageing and solidarity between generations, stressed also the ethical underpinning of Tai Chi, aimed at protecting the weaker. He underlined that with due regard to sports, growing older can be transformed into growing healthier. He also underlined that sports can help to reduce cancer
Mr Szabolcs Horvath from the European Commission outlined several actions that the European Commission has taken in the past to promote sports, also for the benefit of public health budgets and quality of life of older people. Actions of the EU include the European Week of Sports, organised for the first time in 2015, a 2013 Council Recommendation on health-enhancing physical activity and funding that is available for exchanges in sports through the Erasmus+ programme.
Mr Heinz K. Becker, Vice-President of the Parliament’s intergroup subgroup on active ageing and solidarity between generations highlighted the work of the Parliament on a report on the European dimension of sports. He stressed the importance of reducing corruption in sports, as this may put away many citizens from this. He also emphasised the importance of sports promotion and its role in reducing diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Anne-Sophie Parent, Secretary-General of AGE Platform Europe, expressed that sports also have an important intergenerational dimension, as soft sports such as Tai Chi can be practiced by grandparents and children together. She also underlined that such a sport, included at the workplace, supports employability and motivation of workers.
Read the full report of the meeting here