• What is CONIA all about?

    The Confederation of Independent Athletics is a non-profit foundation that seeks to offer athletes from underrepresented peoples the opportunity to compete in athletics at the highest level against representatives from other underrepresented peoples, with the primary aim of celebrating and creating awareness of the cultural diversity of our planet. In order to achieve this, CONIA invites athletics federations and sports’ clubs from all over the world to become members of the foundation and to motivate and support their athletes to compete in our events, which are the CONIA World Unity Athletics Games and the CONIA Continental Unity Athletics Games.

  • What does CONIA mean by “underrepresented peoples”?

    In the view of CONIA, underrepresented peoples can be any community that defines itself through a unique and distinct culture, language, historical homeland or geographical location and that cannot ordinarily participate in large international sporting events under its own name, flag or banner. This includes, but is not limited to, indigenous peoples, ancestral tribes, cross border nomadic peoples, minorities, de-facto nations, non- or partially recognised territories, occupied territories, autonomous or semi-autonomous regions, isolated dependencies, island nations etc.

  • Does CONIA have a political agenda?

    No, not at all. Politics is the game of politicians; athletics is the game of athletes. At our events, we welcome athletes from anywhere in the world who wish to compete on behalf of the community they represent, based on their individual personal heritage. CONIA does not endorse nor does it invalidate any nation’s or people’s claim of political autonomy or independence. CONIA strives to be as neutral and as apolitical as possible. CONIA only wishes to create broader awareness of the existence of peoples and communities that few of us would otherwise have heard of. Members may or may not strive for independence and recognition as a country; this is irrelevant to CONIA as it celebrates cultural diversity rather than political goals.

  • Why athletics and not other sports?

    If there is any universal activity that every human has in common with every other human on the planet, then it is that we have all tried, at least once in our lives, to run faster, throw further or jump higher than the person next to us. In that sense, athletics connects all of humanity. The objective of athletic competition doesn’t need to be explained to anybody, which makes crossing language and cultural barriers so much easier. Furthermore, you don’t need a lot of expensive infrastructure or equipment for most athletic disciplines, which dramatically lowers the threshold for less well-off communities to organise local competitions and identify talented athletes in their midst.

    Having said that, CONIA considers itself part of a movement which theoretically includes all other sports. CONIFA has taken the lead in football and hopefully other organisations and events will emerge. And who knows, perhaps a multi-sports event is possible.

  • Don’t most athletes already have a nationality that allows them to participate in sports events under their country’s flag?

    International sports bodies like the IOC, FIFA and the IAAF bring together nation states to compete against each other, set rules and oversee the organisation of international tournaments and events. These nation states are the basis of our global economic and political systems, but they don’t always reflect cultural identities.

    It is true that many if not most athletes will have officially recognised nationalities which allow them to compete in large international competitions under the flag of the country whose passport they carry. And yet many of these athletes would love to represent the community they are rooted in as well. Participating in CONIA events and IAAF events is not mutually exclusive.

    At the same time, there are thousands of athletes who never get invited to represent the country they live in, based on their ancestral or cultural background, or simply because they hail from areas where there aren’t any athletics clubs or federations to represent them. It is also for these athletes that CONIA hopes to open doors towards participation in the international sporting arena.

  • Doesn’t the IAAF represent and govern all athletics federations in the world?

    No. Only one federation from each country or territory may be affiliated to the International Association of Athletics Federations, which leaves many other peoples and communities unrepresented. It is those people who will find a place at CONIA.

  • How will CONIA be organised and governed?

    CONIA will be a true members’ organisation in which the ultimate authority lies with the members through their directors and chair. An executive committee, headed by a president and chosen from among the directors will supervise the Chief Executive/Secretary General and indirectly his or her team.

    The organisation will have a small bureau which, due to financial constraints will initially be virtual and mainly reliant on voluntary contributions.

  • Where will CONIA find the funds to run this organisation and finance its activities?

    CONIA’s revenues will be similar to (albeit on a much smaller scale than) other international sports bodies: member revenues, sponsorship, grants, ticket sales, merchandising and media sales. Contrary to large international federations, CONIA aims to redistribute positive financial results back to the members for athletic and organisational development as well as international awareness and recognition initiatives.

    The aim is for CONIA to break even while building up a small reserve for financial setbacks.

  • Will CONIA’s affairs be open to public scrutiny?

    CONIA will be fully transparent: financial information and directors’ and executive committee meeting minutes will be available online and criteria for decisions around host city allocation, director and executive committee nominations and decisions will also be in the public realm. Potential conflicts of interest will be addressed and solved publicly. An external ethics committee will have far-reaching authority and international anti-doping and matchfixing rules will be applied in full.

  • Which other organisations does CONIA work together with?

    CONIA looks to collaborate with like-minded organisations both within and outside the sports field to strengthen the position of members, their athletes and the wider communities involved. Examples are CONIFA (Confederation of Independent Football Associations), the World Chess Federation (FIDE), and UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation).