The rights of athletes and diplomacy in sports are topics that are not well known and talked about, for the first time by the Council of Europe, in Serbia, in cooperation with the Faculty of Sports of the University „Union – Nikola Tesla“. Within the framework of the international conference „Sport, health, environment“, organized by the Faculty of Sport in New Belgrade for the fifth time, panel discussions on the mentioned topics were held with the participation of highly competent interlocutors.

Participants in the discussion on diplomacy in sports were Snežana Samardžić Marković, Director General of the Directorate for Democracy of the Council of Europe, Jean Grasia, Vice President of the European Athletic Federation, Nenad Vuković, President of the Association of Lobbyists of Serbia and Asst. Prof. Uroš Mitrović from the Faculty of Sport. In addition to the dean of related faculties from Serbia, Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro, among them were Minister of Environment Goran Trivan, Assistant of the Minister of Youth and Sports Darko Udovičić, Provincial Secretary for Sports Vladimir Batez and Protection Commissioner of equality Brankica Jankovic.

The participants of this scientific meeting expressed their gratitude to the Faculty of Sports, which enabled the professional aspect to be discussed about these increasingly important segments of sports.

– It is a great honor for me to receive a call from Belgrade for this scientific conference. The European Athletic Federation I represent is an organization that gathers 51 national athletic associations. It is very important for us to improve the relationship between sports, other institutions and different countries. We have a role in sports, and this is not just the awarding of medals, but also to be involved in changing the society for better health, greater inclusion and stronger integrity – said Jean Grasia, vice president of the European Athletic Federation.

Snežana Samardžić Marković says that the diplomacy is a continuous fight and represents the first line of defense.

– The topic of diplomacy in sports is very important. Professional sports ambassador is necessary. Sport is the promotion of a country’s foreign policy. Diplomacy is a way to defend the sport from negative phenomena. For this, someone is obliging and authorized. Strategically, you need to take advantage of great sporting events because the sport has the power to attract both business and tourists. Sports diplomacy is a method to calm the situation. Diplomacy skills are taught, but not by birth. Diplomats and officials should protect athletes from anything that has nothing to do with sports. We need to separate politics from sports.

Nenad Vuković, president of the Serbian lobbying association, pointed out how much lobbying is important for organizing large sports events and added:

– I do not know if it is known, but Novak Djokovic and Milorad Čavic are honorary members of the lobbyists of Serbia since 2009. The qualities of a good lobbyist are personal integrity and social networking. Lobbyists are always able to express a message more strongly.

Professor at the Faculty of Sport, Uroš Mitrović tried to explain from the scientific side the concept of sports diplomacy:

– When it comes to sports diplomacy, this is a relatively new phenomenon and, in theory, there is still no single and generally accepted definition of this phenomenon. The fact is, however, that sports diplomacy implies strategic, conscious and regular use of sports, sports events and athletes by state and non-state actors in order to achieve foreign policy goals and different interests of countries in international relations.

Prior to the discussion on diplomacy in sport in the crowded hall of the Tulip Inn hotel, the founder and president of the Council of the Faculty of Sport, Bojan Sekulić, presented the symbolic gifts to the students of our Faculty, Jovana Preković, and her coach, Roksanda Atanasov, for winning the gold medal at the World Karate Championship.

At the fifth international scientific conference „Sport, health, environment“, as many as 40 scientific papers from various sports fields were presented.