Author:Ciccolo, Angela

I would like to congratulate the International Law Students Association for hosting this panel to discuss issues that arise in the new age of globalized sports, and to thank the other panelists for their informative presentations. We share a common perspective--that the value of sport to society is unlimited in that it inspires us and brings us together on a level playing field.

The organization I represent, Special Olympics, is an international NGO representing nearly 4 million athletes in 170 countries. I have several booklets if you are interested in seeing what we do. We face many of the same legal challenges as other organizations. We operate under a protocol with the International Olympic Committee. Our World Games events face many of the hurdles that may be discussed today regarding the use of images and intellectual property rights, and commercial issues involving event sponsorship. We struggle with anti-doping issues, particularly as many of our athlete population use medication for therapeutic purposes.

My focus today, however, will perhaps be different from the other panelists, in that the issue I will address is how sports can play a role in advancing certain rights addressed in international instruments such as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which is designed to promote human dignity and foster nondiscriminatory, inclusive societies.

My organization, Special Olympics, strives to create a better world by fostering acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities. When viewed through the lens of disability rights, sports becomes an avenue for social justice and the simple joy that recreation and interaction with other people can bring.

You have and will hear me today using the term "disability." What is it? Disability is any physical or mental condition that limits a person's movements, senses, or activity. The term is used to refer to attributes that are severe enough to interfere with or prevent normal day-to-day activities. This would include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual, or sensory impairments which may hinder their full and effective participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Disability is a universal condition crossing all socioeconomic boundaries, races, religions, and creeds. The World Bank reports that 600 million people, or 10% of the world's population, have a disability. Up to 80% of these people live in...

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