Sport has always been popular in Estonia. In the population, the percentage of amateur athletes and people who regularly exercise is increasing. During the last three years, Estonian athletes have won over 160 medals in international championship competitions. Since 1996, sport has been in the Ministry of Culture’s area of government. The “Fundamentals of Estonian Sports Policy until 2030”, which was passed by the Riigikogu in 2015, defines the principles that form the basis of sports policy. According to the fundamental document of sports policy, the following objective has been established: by 2030 the mental and physical balance and wellbeing of Estonians should be comparable to the level of the Nordic countries, and the living environment in Estonia will promote physical activity along with services that support the lengthening of the lifespans and self-realisation of people who have lived healthy lives, and also strengthens economic growth.

The Ministry of Culture helps with collecting sport statistics and giving out national annual and life’s work awards and organises sport-related foreign relations. It is the ministry’s responsibility to organise the work of the Estonian Sport Council and the Estonian Regional Sport Council.
The Ministry of Culture publishes the annual Estonian sport yearbook. At the ministry, the Sport Department analyses sport-related issues, makes propositions for ensuring the development of the domain, and drafts the relevant legislation. The department also devises the bases for the national funding of sport and stands for the principles of fair play in Estonian sport. 
Together with the Estonian Ski Association and Otepää rural municipality, the ministry is the founder of Tehvandi Sport Center foundation and the sole founder of the Jõulumäe Recreational Sport Centre foundation.
2014 was a Year of Sports in Estonia and as of 2015, we have celebrated the annual European Week of Sport. On 23 September 2017, the European Week of Sport opened in Tartu.


The decentralisation of sport

Sport has been decentralised in Estonia and none of the national sport organisations is directly governed by the Ministry of Culture. Sport organisations are independent in their decisions.

The Estonian Olympic Committee

The umbrella organisation of sport is the Estonian Olympic Committee with 70 sport federations, 15 county sport associations, 4 city and town sport associations and 18 national sport associations among its members. There are also 18 individual persons among the members.




  • There are around 3,400 professionally certified coaches and over 2,600 sport organisations in Estonia: around 2,400 sport clubs, over 120 sport unions, 70 sport federations, 19 county, city, and town sport associations, and the National Olympic Committee. 
  • Approximately 4,500 people in Estonia are active as sports judges.
  • Annually, Estonian athletes will win more than 160 medals at international championship competitions, of which about a tenth are medals in classic Olympic events.
  • As of 31 December 2019, 184,481 amateur athletes (ca 13% of the population) belonged to sports clubs or attended sports schools, incl. 108,438 young people 19 years old and under.
  • Out of the population of Estonia, 40% exercise on a regular basis.
  • There are around 3,300 sports facilities and exercise areas in Estonia.



Recreational, professional and youth sports receive support from the state as it is in its interests that the people of Estonia develop a habit of exercising. For this purpose the state supports various sports organisations, investing into new sports facilities and exercise areas and modernising the existing facilities. 

The Ministry grants subsidies from the state budget to umbrella organizations in the field. Since 2019, support for sports federations has been provided through a public contract through the Estonian Olympic Committee. In addition, the sector receives grants from the state for organizing international competitions in Estonia.
Each year the Ministry of Culture allocates two life’s work awards and six annual awards and twice a year there are opportunities to apply for a sports scholarship from the Ministry of Culture. Sports take up around a tenth of the ministry’s budget.
Estonian sports and physical activity is also funded by the Cultural Endowment of Estonia, which is the main supporter of physical activity in Estonia. In addition to the Ministry of Culture and the Estonian Cultural Endowment, the Estonian Olympic Committee and other ministries also fund sport in their respective fields.
Erasmus+ is a programme in the European Union’s new budget period of 2014–2020, which is going to unite the previous educational and youth work programmes. As a new measure, a programme for sports has been added. Further information



In Estonia, the domain of sports is governed by the Sport Act which lays down the general organisational and legislative provisions on the organisation of sports, the rights and obligations of an athlete and a coach, an Olympic medallist’s bases for applying for and receiving national support, the bases for the financing of sport, as well as requirements for organising sports events and liability for a violation of the requirements.

Based on the Sports Act, the procedure of the Ministry of Culture for allocating the funds received from the state budget for the support of sports has been adopted. This document lays down the principles of funding sports federations, county sport associations and other sports organisations.
The allocation of sports scholarships and awards is governed by “The conditions and procedure of allocating state sports scholarships and awards”. 
The activities of and the collection of data at the Estonian Sports Registry is governed by the “General regulation for founding and maintaining the Estonian Sports Registry”.

On 18th of February 2015 the Riigikogu approved „The general Principes of the Estonian sports policy until 2030“ (PDF).

Sports policy

The objective of the sports policy is to help realise public interest in sports by creating the necessary sporting facilities.
The main directions of the national sports policy were formulated in 1998 at the Estonian sports congress and approved by the Government of the Republic. In 1998, the first Sports Act providing the general organisational and legal bases for the organisation and development of sports was adopted.
In 2006 the amended Sports Act entered into force, which, in addition, defined the requirements for organising sports events and formulated the essence of sports travel and a national support system for Olympic medallists.
On February 18, 2015, the Riigikogu approved the "Estonian Fundamentals of Sport Policy until 2030" prepared by the Ministry of Culture and Sports Organizations. The goal of the development strategy is to describe the main directions of Estonian sports policy until 2030. Since 2016, a survey of the implementation of the strategy has been compiled and the minister of culture had addressed the Riigikogu.
The Estonian Regional Sports Council and the Estonian Sports Council are advisers of the government of the Republic and the Ministry of Culture in sports-related issues.

Sports Registry

In cooperation with the Foundation of Sports Training and Information, the Sports Department at the Ministry of Culture collects data on sports organisations, their members and coaches.
The data is accumulated at the Estonian Sports Registry (in Estonian).

The Biographical Lexicon of Estonian Sports

The Biographical Lexicon of Estonian Sports is a collection of abridged life stories of Estonian sports figures. The printed version of the lexicon, 1096 pages in length, has 6,000 articles, 4,300 of them printed with a portrait photo.
The e-book version of the lexicon is available on-line (in Estonian). 

Sports studies

The following institutions of higher education are engaged with sports studies:

International major competitions held in Estonia

Estonia has been a successful organiser of large international competitions:
  • Boy’s U17 football final competition 2020
  • Ironman Tallinn 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Rally Estonia 2018, 2019, 2020
  • Tallinn Marathon since 2010
  • European biathlon championship 2020
  • European Optimist class sailing championship 2020
  • European orienteering championship 2020
  • Nordic combined world cup stage 2019, 2020
  • Figure skating junior’s world cup 2020
  • European triathlon championship 2020
  • Wrestling junior’s world cup 2019
  • European championship in speed and blitz chess 2019
  • School sport’s orienteering world cup 2019
  • Triathlon European Championships 2018
  • Curling European Championships 2018
  • Biathlon Youth and Junior World Championships 2018
  • Badminton European Junior Championships 2018
  • Enduro World Championship round 2018
  • European Powerboat Racing Championships in GT-30, F-250 and F-500 2018
  • World DN Ice Yacht Racing Championships 2018

International cooperation

Estonia is represented and participates in several international sporting organisations. The Sports Department at the Ministry of Culture takes part in the work of the European Union and the Council of Europe, as well as the anti-doping fight and action against manipulating sports results. 


Estonia participating in the work of the European Union

In 2009, the Lisbon Treaty entered into force, giving sports the same legal basis as other fields. In 2011, the first EU Work Plan for Sport 2011–2014 was adopted. Six expert groups were formed under this plan, and Estonia has also been an active member. Estonia takes part in the expert groups “Anti-Doping”, “Good governance in sport”, “Education and training in sport”, “Sport, health and participation”, “Sport statistics” and “Sustainable financing of sport”. 
Through the Work Plan for Sport, Estonia and other member states have fought against the use of doping and have made propositions to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for the process of amending their Code. Expert groups have been mapping several different fields in the EU and exchanged best practices. An overview, for example, has been compiled on how the coaches’ professional qualification system in the member states is implemented and how sport receives its funding. A joint endeavour was the drafting of good management principles, which are applied to the financing of sport organisations in Estonia as well.
Over the years we have adopted the EU Chairman’s conclusions and the Council’s recommendations on how to promote amateur sport and physical activity in member states. Estonia has participated in the EU organised studies, the results of which can be used in making decisions on sport policies and later comparing the effect of the decisions against other EU member states. 
During the EU Council Meeting of Ministers of Culture and Sport, which was held 21.05.2014, the second EU Work Plan for Sport (PDF) was adopted for 2014-2017  

Estonia participating in the work of the Council of Europe

The Council of Europe has a convention to fight negative aspects in sport. 
In 1983, the Council of Europe grew increasingly worried about the increasing violence in sport arenas and stadiums. In 1985, the European Convention on Spectator Violence was devised to combat the incidents of violence (full title: “European Convention on Spectator Violence and Misbehaviour at Sport Events and in particular at Football Matches”). The convention provides practical guidelines for the states on how to ensure the security against acts of violence in particular at large football matches. The implementation of the convention is supervised by a standing committee. More than 30 countries have joined the convention. From Estonia, representatives of the Police and Border Guard Board are participating in the committee’s work. The Council of Europe Convention on an Integrated Safety, Security and Service Approach at Football Matches and Other Sports Events was opened for signature on 3 July 2016 in Saint-Denis. Estonia acceded to the Convention on 16 December 2019. The new convention updates the European convention concluded in 1985 that deal with spectator violence at football matches and other sports events, as well as other disturbances.
The Anti-Doping Convention was ratified in 1989 by all 35 member states of the Council of Europe. According to the convention, the states that have joined it shall fight against doping by means of control programmes. These programmes limit the doping trade, devise testing methods for doping and improve existing control measures. They also support informational and educational programmes and ensure that punishments for using doping would be effective. There is close cooperation between the Council of Europe and WADA and the Council has two members with voting rights at WADA. The implementation of the convention will be controlled by the Monitoring Group of the Anti-Doping Convention, which has four specialised working groups, dealing with: compliance with the convention, education, legal issues and science. The Ad hoc European Committee for the World Anti-Doping Agency helps to coordinate the positions of the European WADA representatives for the WADA meetings. From Estonia, representatives of the Ministry of Culture and the Estonian Antidoping Foundation participate in the work of the monitoring group and the Ad hoc European Committee for the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Estonia joined the Council of Europe Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions on 19 September 2016.  Estonia has not yet ratified the convention because it is unclear whether and how the European Union can join the convention.
In the Council of Europe, the domain of sport is co-ordinated by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport of the Council of Europe

Cooperation in anti-doping fight

In June 2003, the government of the Republic signed the Copenhagen declaration, thereby acknowledging the principles of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and took the obligation to adhere to the WADA Code. Currently the WADA 2015 Code, which was amended on 1 April 2018. In November 2019, after a lengthy process of renewal, a new WADA Code was adopted and will become effective in 2021. The Code ensures that uniform anti-doping regulations and provisions apply for all athletes and all sports.
The mission of the foundation Eesti Antidoping is to promote healthy and fair sport – to carry out adequate doping tests, to educate various target groups on the fight against doping and to contribute to the international cooperation in the fight against doping. 
Up-to-date information on the fight against doping is available at the web page of the foundation Eesti Antidoping, along with the international regulations and codes, as well as Estonian anti-doping rules.

Cooperation in the fight against the manipulation of sport results 

Manipulation of sport results is considered one of the greatest threats in contemporary sports. It overshadows the value system of sport such as credibility, fair play and respect for others. At the Council of Europe’s conference of ministers of responsible of sport in Belgrade on 15 March 2012, EPAS, an organisation of the Council of Europe’s Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport was called to initiate negotiation in cooperation with the EU for an international convention that would address the issue of manipulation with sport results. The Ministry of Culture along with the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior and sport federations have played an active role in drafting the convention.
One of the main issues of the international fight against fixed matches is the necessity of the cooperation between all stakeholder groups, i.e. administrative agencies, law enforcement authorities, gambling regulators, sport movement in all its forms and gambling operators (lotteries and private person organisers). The future convention is supposed to create an international legal framework for preventing and combating the manipulation of sport results. The aim of the convention is to facilitate international cooperation in the area and to create a monitoring system to ensure that the provisions of the convention are met in an effective manner.

Main partners


The Estonian Olympic Committee - the central umbrella organisation of sport.
The Sport for All Association - initiates and coordinates events for exercise and recreational sports. The association unites 65 exercise and recreational sport clubs and communities and is the coordinator of the national development plan of 2011–2014 for recreational sports.
The Estonian Sport Association, Jõud - unites county sport associations of Estonia.
County sport associations - unite county sport clubs, represent county sport in the Estonian Olympic Committee. County sport associations have exclusive right to organise county championships and hand out respective titles.
Sport Events Organisation Club - association founded in 2000 for the organisation of sport events, known under the Tallinn Marathon brand.  
Stamina Sport Club - organiser of recreational sports events and event series. 
Tartu Marathon Club - a non-profit with the purpose of organising public sport events.
Foundation of Sport Training and Information - state-centred unit for processing sport data The aim of the foundation is to pursue the development of sport as a public interest by collecting, systematising, analysing and distributing sport data.
Foundation Eesti Antidoping - foundation promoting healthy and fair sport, conducting doping testing and anti-doping education and developing international anti-doping cooperation.
Sport Medicine Foundation - foundation formed to pursue public interest by developing sport medicine and sport science and providing sport medicine services.
Tehvandi Sport Centre - sports centre with a stadium complex, conference centre and winter sport museum next to the town of Otepää.
Jõulumäe Recreational Sport Centre - sport centre located in Pärnu County, offering training opportunities for both professional athletes as well as recreational exercise.
The Estonian School Sport Union - voluntary association with the aim of developing school sport in Estonia. 

Margus Klaan
Adviser (sports)

Telephone 628 2328


Last updated: 15 January 2020