Brief Study: Physical Education and Sports for Disabled, at Institutional Level, in Romania and Turkey

Acest text constituie varianta în limba engleză a articolului Scurt studiu comparativ privind educația fizică și sportul pentru persoane cu dizabilități, la nivel instituțional, în România și Turcia publicat în revista Curierul Judiciar nr. 10/2018.


PhD.Candidate Florentina-Camelia Medei
Faculty of Law, University of Bucharest, Romania

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Kürşad Sertbaș
Kocaeli University, Sport Science Faculty Turkey


The World Health Organization’s studies have shown that nowadays over one billion people worldwide face disabilities. Physical education and sports play a particularly important role in the proper integration of this category of people into society. The present study aims to highlight, at the institutional level, the system of physical education and sports for persons with disabilities in Romania and Turkey. In order to accomplish this scientific approach, we have used the historical method by which we made an insight in the international and national legislation regulating the field, we conducted a comparative study of the system of physical education and sports for people with disabilities, and we underlined the measures taken in Romania and Turkey. By highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the physical education and sport system for people with disabilities in Romania and Turkey, we aim to outline an ideal framework of the field, which in the future can be implemented in a concrete manner in each of the two countries, and, why not, maybe even globally. Moreover, through this scientific approach, we want to encourage the collaboration between institutions, competent bodies in the field of physical education and sport for persons with disabilities, such as academic collaboration in this field between Romania and Turkey.

Keywords: physical education, sports, disabled, institutional level, Romania, Turkey


I. Preliminary considerations

The studies undertaken by The World Health Organization (WHO) have revealed that over one billion people in the whole world are facing a form of disability; at present, there is a major concern in all states about this phenomenon because it is in alarming growth.In this regard, WHO published in 2011 a „World Report on Disability”[1]to support the policies and programmes aiming to improve the quality of life of disabled people and to put into practice the „Convention concerning disabled persons[2], the international reference legal framework.

Recognizing that ”disability” is an evolving conceptwhich results from the interaction between people with disabilities and the attitudinal and environmental barriersthat prevent their full and effective participation in society on an equal footing with others[3], the United Nations Organization has been concerned with the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights for all persons with disabilities[4], since the ’50s,when the Economic and Social Council adopted several resolutions on recognition of disability and protection of disabled persons. Further on,

Further on, the fundamental liberties and principles established in the Charter of the United Nations have been re-affirmed in 1969, in the ”Declaration on Social Progress and Development”.

The first official instruments of the United Nations concerning this category of people have been adopted in the ’70s:”Declaration on the right of mentality retarded” – 1971, ”Declaration on the rights of disable persons”– 1975.

The first strategy adopted by the United Nations, on December 3, 1982, entitled”World Programme of Action Concerning Disabled Persons”, addresses the issue of the people with disabilities through human rights and emphasis on rehabilitation, prevention and equal opportunities.

In 1993 standard rules are established for this class of people: ”Standards rules on the Equalization of Opportunities for persons with Disabilities”, as well as”Special Rapporteur on Disability”.

The statement attached to the Conclusions of the European Council on December 7-9, 2000 stipulates that sport is ”a human activity, based on fundamental social, educational and cultural values, and also is a factor which favours integration, involvement in social life, tolerance, acceptance of differences and observance of rules”.In this context, the year 2004 was declared as ”European Year of Education through Sport”[5].

On December 13, 2006, the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization adopted, in New York, the ”Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”(The Convention), open for signing on March 30, 2007 and signed by Romania on September 26, 2007 and represents the first mandatory legal instrument, which has the role to ”promote, protect and ensure full exercise and in conditions of equality of all fundamental human right and liberties by all persons with disabilities and to promote respect for their intrinsic dignity”[6].

”The White Paper on Sport in 2007 ”, European normative reference act, describes the specificity of sports activities and the application of EU law to them, the ”Pierre de Coubertin Action Plan” and emphasis the economic and social role of sports.

In this context, the EU Council adopted, on November 26, 2009, Decison 2010/48/EC which became part-and-parcel of The Convention hereinabove; for the European Union, The Convention has entered into force on January 22, 2011.

The European Commision issued, based on articles No. 1, 21, 26 from the ”European Union Charter of Fundamental Rights”, art. No. 10, 19 from”Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union” and ”Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, ”The 2010-2020 European Strategy for People with Disabilities: A Renewed Commitment for a Barrier-Free Europe”[7],having as a declared objective ”(…) the possibility to offer the people with disabilities the capacity to enjoy full rights and to completely benefit from their participation in the European social and economic life, especially through the European Single Market”.

The European Union is fundamenting its political context and priorities for attaining the objectives of ”The 2010-2020 European Strategy for People with Disabilities: A Renewed Commitment for a Barrier-Free Europe” and through actions which promote social inclusion in and through sport.

The European Commision emphasised that, in the context of signing The Convention by the EU and its member states, the people with disabilities have the right to participate in sports activities and ”sport is a means of promoting social inclusion(…) and can contribute to a better understanding between communities.[8]

II. Physical Education and sports for people with disabilities at institutional level in Romania.

Art. No. 50 from the Constitution of Romania guarantees a special protection for the people with disabilities. Respecting the rights and duties of parents and guardians, the state has the obligation to implement national policies protection of persons with disabilities, based on equal opportunity, prevention and treatment, aiming to assure their active participation in the community life. In Romania, the rights and duties of the persons with disabilities are regulated by Law No. 448/2006, republished, on protection and promoting rights of people with disabilities, with subsequent additions and modifications, and Government Decision No. 268/2007 approving the Methodological Norms for the application of the Law No. 448/2006, republished, with subsequent additions and modifications.

By Government Decision No. 655/2017 it was approved The National Strategy „A society without barriers for persons with disabilities” 2016-2020 and the Operational Plan for implementing this National Strategy, for the period 2016-2020.

In this field, The National Authority for Persons with Disabilities (subordinated to the Minister for Labour and Social Justice) is the specialized body of central public administration. It is designated to fulfill the obligations stipulated in The Convention and to co-ordinate, at national level, the activities of protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities, development of policies, strategies and standards in their rights protection and promotion, to ensure the enforcement of laws in their field and to control the activities of protection and promotion of the rights of persons with disabilities[9].

Referring to the types and degrees of handicap, as they are stipulated by the Law No. 448/2006 (republished), on protection and promoting rights of people with disabilities, with subsequent additions and modifications, the statistic data[10], published on March 31, 2018, issued by The National Authority for Persons with Disabilities, are worrying:

  • The total number of people with disabilities in Romania is 805,159, out of which 741,942 are adults; 787,098 are in their families, uninstitutionalized, and 18,061 are institutionalized; 309,224 persons have a severe handicap, 405,722 persons have an accentuated handicap, 82,063 persons have a medium handicap, 8,150 persons have a light handicap.
  • 63,217 persons with disabilities are children, 38,023 children have a severe handicap, 9,509 children have an accentuated handicap, 14,471 children have a medium handicap and 1,214 children have a light handicap.
  • 741,942 are adults: 271,201 adults with severe handicap, 396,213 adults with accentuated handicap, 67,592 adulți with a medium handicap, 6,936 adults with a light handicap.
  • Out of the total of 805,159 persons with handicap, 198,191 suffer from a physical handicap, 155,917 have a somatic handicap, 23,443 have a hearing handicap, 96,583 have a visual handicap, 129,029 have a mental handicap, 91,653 have a psychological handicap, 99,273 have an associated handicap, 7,650 have HIV/SIDA, 3,326 have rare diseases, 94 have deafblindness.
  • In Romania there are 487 public institutions of social assistance for adult persons with disabilities, aut of which 426 are residential centres and 61 are non-residential centres.

The involvement of the people with disabilities in physical education and sports activities give them self-confidence, the feeling of own-identity and membership, physical and mental health. At the same time, the practice of sports help the people with disabilities acquire valuable abilities and skills – organisation, team work, discipline, respect, self-sacrifice, perseverence, other positive values – which facilitate their professional insertion process and assure a better economic and social future for them. The sports for the people with disabilities are practiced in Romania according to The Law of Physical Education and Sports No. 69/2000 (with subsequent additions and modifications) and represent ”a complex of activities carried out in specific conditions, in a group or individually, by persons with physical, sensory, mental and mixed disabilities” and (sports) ”can be practiced both for the development of the personality and integration in society, and for participating in national and international competitions[11].

The sports practitioners with disabilities, ”who practice sports in a systematic and organized manner, aiming to take part in competitions and gaining victory on the opponents, are considered performance athletes”. For the awards (prizes) conquered in official national and international competitions, equal rewards will be granted to the athletes with or without disabilities, for the same (equivalent) types of performances, according to the non-discrimination principle.

The (Romanian) Ministry of Youth and Sports is the specialized body of central administration which co-ordinates the activity of physical education and sports in Romania and (on this purpose) collaborates with the National Paralympic Committee for financing and running the programmes for training and participation of Romanian athletes in the Paralympic Games.

According to art. No. 3 paragraph 3 in Law No. 69/2000, ”the public administration authorities must ensure both the conditions for physical education and sports practice by the persons with physical, sensory, mental and mixed disabilities, aiming to develop their personality and integrate them in society, and the means allowing the persons with disabilities to participate in national and international competitions (meant) for them”.

For their participation in national and international competitions, the sports structures and the performance athletes with disabilities must observe the stipulations of the Statute of the National Paralympic Committee. Thus, any sports club officially recognized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports by its registration in the Register of Sports and holder of Sports Identity Certificate, can register (affiliate) with the National Paralympic Committee; its affiliation will be valid only after the final approval of the General Assembly (of the National Paralympic Committee).

Only the National Paralympic Committee has the right to organise national championships for persons with disabilities and only for recognized sports branches.

The participation of the sports structures affiliated with The National Paralympic Committee, of the athletes with disabilities in European and world championships, Olympic Deaf Games, Paralympic Games, as representatives of Romania, can happen only after the approval of the National Paralympic Committee, who will first ask the authorisation of the Minister for Youth and Sports. The Romanian Paralympic Team will include the best athletes with disabilities, selected on this purpose.

The athletes with disabilities participate, within the National Paralympic Committee, in the following sports branches: basketball in wheelchair, cycling, futsal (football for blind people), goalball, swimming, judo (for blind people), para-canoe, table tennis, lawn tennis, para-archery, para-karate, track&field, snowboarding.

The Romanian paralympic athletes got very good results in the international competitions. Alex Bologa is the first Romanian athlete with disabilities (blind) as European champion and bronze medallist at Rio de Janeiro Paralympic Games in 2016.

In Romania the sports movement for persons with disabilities has developed and many sports federations organize specific events: national championships, friendly matches, demonstrations, festivals, conferences, seminars, etc.

Although the level of social integration of the people with disabilities is an indicator of the modernity degree of a society, of maturity and responsability of its members for their fellow citizens, we sadly ascertain that, in spite of real progresses on the way of discrimination and inequal opoortunities recognition, undergone by the people with disabilities, their life will always be different and more difficult than life of the other people.

For the awareness of the Romanian society we consider that, from many activities that could improve the life of disabled people, sports is very important, and because the participation of all members of a human society in physical education & sports activities give them confidence in themselves, self-esteem, the feeling of their own identity and membership, a good physical and mental health, on May 22, 2018 The Romanian Martial Arts Federation organised a debate called ”A Plea for Social Inclusion of the Disabled Persons Through Sports”.

By this special event, the organizing institutions, the participating performance athletes – models for the young generations – fully succeeded in sending a positive sign to the Romanian society as a whole, aiming to promote physical education & sports to more important places in the specific policies, strategies, laws and programmes.

III. Physical Education And Sports For Disabled, At Institutional Level, in Turkey.

According to the Eurobarometer statistics, in 27 EU countries the participation of population at physical education and sports activities is very high. Thus, while 65% of respondents said they practice sports at least once a week, 40% said they practice sports regularly; 2/3 of respondents showed that they are not members of a club or sports center, and men practice sports more than women. Although the rate of sport is decreasing with age, 22% of EU citizens over 70 years have said they practice sports. It has also been found that financial problems also affect the practicing of sport. This rate of participation in sports activities varies in EU countries: while it is very high in the northern countries (72% in Sweden), it decreases in the southern continental countries (3% in Italy and Greece). Both demographic and geographic differences seem to influence the practice of sport[12].

Sports also encourages the active involvement of vulnerable groups (women, elderly people, immigrants, people with disabilities, etc.) who may be discriminated in their interaction with other members of society. The EU uses sports as a means of social integration and, at the same time, combines social policies with sports. The EU Disability Strategy aims to integrate this group into society and to be treated equally. As part of this strategy, sports contributes to the social integration of people with disabilities[13].

In Turkey, about 8.5 million people live with various forms of disability, accounting 12.32% of the total population.

Starting from the objective approach to the concept of disability, meaning that physical, mental, social and cultural incapacity in the long run, which could hinder or even exclude the participation of people to equal conditions in social life, the Turkish state has realized that for people with disabilities must provide sufficient, efficient and diversified services with qualified staff and equally emphasis on physical education and sport for people with disabilities.

At the same time, the concern to improve the quality of life of people with disabilities has led to the elaboration of a large number of public policies for this category of people.

The Article 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey states that “women and men have equal rights, the state is bound to ensure this equality in a practical and real way, and the measures taken for this purpose can not be interpreted as contrary to this principle of equality. Many measures will be taken for widows and orphans, veterans with children, long career soldiers, elderly people, heroes of war, for their properties, and these measures will not be considered contrary to the principle of equality ” .

Many legal acts have been the fundamental for policies, strategies and concrete measures in Turkey to decrease the effects of disability among the population. With consistent thematic programs developed over the past 15 years, people with disabilities have reached widening and significant levels of achievement. Social Services Law no. 2828/24.05.1983 systematizing the principles and organization of social services procedures for persons with disabilities who need special protection and care. Also, many specialized studies have been developed in Turkey to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of people with disabilities.

The public institutions that regulate the protection of persons with disabilities in Turkey, on the basis of special normative acts, as well as under Law no. 5378 / 01.07.2005 on persons with disabilities are as follows:

1) Ministry of Family and Social Services.

2) The Ministry of Youth and Sports supports the participation of people with disabilities and of the 4 specialized federations in physical activities and also encourages their participation in national, international sports competitions and Paralympic Games. In this respect, these sports federations, athletes, sports federations “Special Turkey”, “Turkey Physically handicapped federation”, ” Federation of Turkey visually impaired “, work together with the official national sports federations.

3) Local authorities have a very important role in sports planning and management of recreational activities and physical activities for people with disabilities.

4) Academic institutions operate under the authority of the Ministry of National Education and apply special programs for disabled persons.

“Sports is an important activity and also an important issue in a healthy society. All the segments of society can participate at physical activity programs and sports. Performance sports and Olympic sports organizations cover the sporting organizations of the elite level”[14].

Thus, by substantiating the policies, strategies and normative acts according to the provisions of art. 59 of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, according to which ” the state shall take measures to develop the physical and mental health of Turkish citizens of all ages, and encourage the spread of sports among the masses.” the Turkish legislator ensured a special protection also for persons with disabilities whose rights are regulated by art. 50, 53, 60 et seq. of the Constitution of the Republic. Turkey, as well as special laws.

IV. Conclusion

Taking into account that physical activity is essential for each of us, and especially for people with disabilities, we appreciate that Romanian public institutions (Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labor and Social Justice, Ministry of Youth and Sports, National Health Insurance House, etc.) should be involved in implementing a coherent, sustainable, long-term national strategy for physical education and sport, including for people with disabilities. It is well known that Turkey’s national team is an important opponent at the European and World Sports Championships, at the Olympic Games, in most sports disciplines, due to the fact that investment in education, physical education and sports is a priority in this country. We hope that the physical education and sports system in countries such as Turkey, Hungary, Italy, France etc. will be a real model for a future national strategy even for the protection of people with disabilities from Romania.



[1]For details:;jsessionid=5660B5D8B42B00912BDBC2050AE7F203?sequence=20 ,    01.10.2018

[2]For details: 28 August 2018.

[3]Preamble of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

[4] ,01.10.2018..

[5]Decisio  nr. 291/2003/CE a Parlamentului European și a Consiliului din 6 februarie 2003.

[6]Art.1 ofConvention.

[7]  , 01.10.2018.

[8]Dezvoltarea dimensiunii europene a sportului, Bruxelles, 18.01.2011.

[9]Art.1 alin. 3 din Hotărârea   nr. 50 din 28 ianuarie 2015 privind organizarea, funcţionarea şi atribuţiile Autorităţii Naţionale pentru Persoanele cu Dizabilităţi, cu modificările și completările ulterioare.

[10] ANPD, , 01.10.2018.

[11] din Legea nr.69/2000.

[12] (Taş İ. & Alii, 2013), “Development Of Internatıonal Sports Polıcy In The Case Of European Union: Economic, Social And Polıtical Aspects”, Suleyman Demirel University Journal of Visionary,Vol. 4, No. 9, pp.136-151.

[13] (Taş İ. & Alii, 2013), “Development Of Internatıonal Sports Polıcy In The Case Of European Union: Economic, Social And Polıtical Aspects”, Suleyman Demirel University Journal of Visionary,Vol. 4, No. 9, pp.136-151.

[14] ” Sertbaş K.” Spor Yönetimi Ders Notları” , 2018.

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