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The first day of The European Sport Forum opened with an introductory welcome session by Mark Cutajar, Director General for Sport followed by interventions by the Deputy Director General Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission Jens Nymand Christensen, Petra Kammervert, chair of the CULT committee in the European Parliament and by European Olympic Committee acting President, Janez Koclijancic. Cutajar said that it is with great pleasure that the European Sport Forum will give an onset to a series of events here in Malta as it will be followed by the European Youth Sport Forum and the Director Generals’ meeting that in all will unite more than 500 delegates to our island to discuss sport. He also highlighted the work that is being done under the Maltese presidency in particular the EU Work plan for Sport and the council conclusion on Sport as a platform for social inclusion.

Various current topics where discussed during the sessions on the first day, mainly sport diplomacy, gender based violence in sport, employability, inclusion and the role of volunteers, digital technology in sport, Anti-Doping, environmental impact of sport and social platform for sports. Amongst the Maltese speakers Hon Chris Agius who is the EU representative on anti-doping was involved in a panel debate discussing what needs to be done in order to restore trust in the anti-doping system. Michael McNamee from the Swansea University in Wales and former Slovenian high-jumper Rozle Prezelj who is the Chair of IAAF athletes’ commission also took part in this debate. The session was moderated by German Station ARD presenter Hajo Seppelt.

On the other hand the Malta Basketball President Paul Sultana participated in the panel debate focusing on the possibility of having more inclusive societies in particular through the role of volunteering. This session which was all focussed around the Maltese Presidency priorities was introduced by Mark Cutajar. Cutajar highlighted the rationale behind the priorities and various best practices that Malta adapted successfully in the last years to include vulnerable members in local communities most importantly the On the Move programme, Move 360 and the horse racing academy. The European Parliament representative Bogdan Wenta, David Evangelista from Special Olympics Europe and Raimonds Elbakjans from the Ghetto Games 2016, gave their input during this session as panellists. The session was moderated by Agata Dziarnowska, Policy Officer of the European Commission. Sultana argued that in these days it is not very easy to find volunteers, and some sort of motivation and certification should be given for volunteers to be kept on board. He praised SportMalta first ever certification platform for volunteers.

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