Sports are a fundamental tool for diplomacy, says Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation

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DUBAI, – Sports are a fundamental tool for diplomacy, His Excellency Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said at the Italian Sports Day held at his country’s pavilion today (23 November).
 
Di Maio said: “Sport is a fundamental tool for diplomacy. It favours dialogue and peace for countries. [It can also help countries] work towards the 2030 goals of sustainable development.”
 
The Italy Pavilion, in collaboration with the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI), organised the event to showcase the country’s thriving sector and discuss the upcoming major sporting events that will be held in Italy, with Expo 2020 Dubai providing the perfect opportunity for Italy to present the country’s achievements in the field.
 
Giovanni Malagò, President of CONI, said: “We are showing what we have. It is not just a matter of [showcasing our] excellence, but [also representing our] sports story and achievements. Maybe at Expo, there are people of theatre, science and academic fields. And we tend to assume that they’ll be more educated than us. But at this moment [with the Italy Pavilion’s Expo logo], ‘Beauty Connects People’ – the beauty of the Italian team brings people together.”
 
The event included talks led by some of the country’s highest-ranking sports officials, Olympic medallists and motorsport managers, as well as a movie screening and activities. 
 
Because sport is an essential part of the Italian identity, according to Valentina Vezzali, Italy’s Undersecretary of State at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers (Sport), the government greatly supports the sector, which in turn has created immense job opportunities and improved the country’s economic growth.
 
Sport can also be a powerful force in erasing people’s differences and uniting them together, she added during a session titled ‘The Beauty of Sports’.
 
Vezzali said: “The beauty of sports resides in the fact that it is like life. It is sacrifices, movements, emotions, love, and I could continue with different feelings that came in my own athletic life. Sport represents the continuous search for perfection, and it reminds you that you are always human. In sports, there are no stereotypes. There are no races or sexes.”
 
The event also saw former and current female athletes discuss the growing presence of women in sports, and the importance of inclusion.
 
A special session titled ‘Women and Sports’ included former world record holder and Olympic gold medalist Novella Calligaris; Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist in sailing Caterina Banti; Paralympic silver medalist in archery at Tokyo 2020 Vincenza Petrilli; former athlete and member of the Executive Committee of the National Commission of CONI Coaches Emanuela Maccarani; and Antonella Palmisano, the winner of a gold medal in the women’s 20 km walk at Tokyo 2020.
 
Banti said: “Men and women can be complementary, and are complementary. So we need to cooperate and understand that men and women can cooperate in all fields, and one or the other cannot be replaced.”
 
The Sports Day ended with a screening of the movie Crazy for Football, and a game-playing activity for children held at the Expo Sports, Fitness and Wellbeing Hub to raise awareness on the importance of trying different sports and maintaining an active lifestyle

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