New Global Athletics Organization Gives Minorities a Chance | Athletic Business

New Global Athletics Organization Gives Minorities a Chance

Source: Confederation of Independent Athletics (CONIA)

ROTTERDAM - The Confederation of Independent Athletics (CONIA) has been established in The Netherlands to promote athletics in minority communities and to support their athletes compete at the international level.

In 2019, CONIA will host the inaugural World Unity Games with athletes from ethnic and cultural minorities competing under their own flags for the first time.  The World Unity Games offers the opportunity for athletes who are often marginalised from major sporting events to be represented at the international level. While track & field competitions will take centre stage, the World Unity Games will celebrate cultural diversity with performances and festivals in which communities can showcase their unique and vibrant culture.

The President of CONIA, Erik van der Schaft, said, “athletics is a universal sport that captures the human spirit, and has brought communities across the world together for centuries. The World Unity Games will be an opportunity to put a spotlight on athletic talent that is often overlooked, as well as celebrate humanity’s rich cultural diversity.”  

In the lead-up to the World Unity Games, CONIA will be working with and supporting local sporting organisations to professionally develop their athletes. Some organisations already exist; in other cases CONIA works with community representatives to establish a community athletics association.

Currently, more than 20 communities are (candidate) members. These include: Tibet, St. Maarten, Catalonia, Occitania, Padania, South Ossetia, the Faroe Islands, the Isle of Man, Gozo, Basque country, the Romani people, Somaliland, the Baka pygmy of Cameroon, the Bamum Kingdom, the Fulani people, the Nuba people of Sudan and the Bakweri people in the Southern Cameroons.

CONIA will create a mobile and online training, development and support programme to empower athletes to reach their potential in difficult circumstances.

CONIA membership is free and open to athletics organisations and individual athletes. CONIA welcomes applications from all non - or partially recognised nations, territories and peoples, as well as ethnic and cultural minorities who have a distinct culture, their own language and a past or present geographic homeland.

For further information on the World Unity Games disciplines, membership criteria and the application process, please visit


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