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Congress Hosting Guidelines

Congress Hosting Guidelines

Guidelines for Hosting the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) Biennial Congress

Part AIntroduction


The International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) is the leading global society dedicated to physcial activity. Our vision is a healthy active world where the opportunities for active living are available to all. ISPAH aims to advance and promote physical activity as a global health priority through excellence in research, education, capacity building and advocacy.

ISPAH conducts a biennial Congress in even numbered years. It is organised by a Host Organisation in collaboration with ISPAH. This document provides guidance on the main requirements for the organisation of the ISPAH Congress.

Purpose of the ISPAH Congress

The Society seeks to utilise the Congress to help achieve the Society’s objectives which are to:

  1. Support communication of and excellence in research and practice on physical activity and public health
  2. Develop capacity in research and practice on physical activity and public health world wide
  3. Lead advocacy actions to advance research and knowledge dissemination into policy and practice
  4. Partner in global collaborations to advance physical activity and public health research and practice
  5. Be a world leading global professional society for researchers and practitioners in physical activity and public health

The Congress will especially seek to:

  • Advance multidisciplinary and cross-cultural communication and collaboration among developed and developing countries on all aspects of the scientific study of physical activity and health, and
  • Share innovative policy and programs that promote and engage people to be physically active and improve their health.

Part BOrganisation of the Congress

An agreement shall be made between ISPAH and the Host Organisation of the country in which the Congress is to be held. The Host Organisation must demonstrate that it has sufficient experience and capacity to organise the Congress. The Host Organisation is required to work with a Professional Congress Organizer (PCO) appointed by ISPAH. The PCO will be responsible for the organisation, administration and all financial aspects of the Congress and for ensuring that Society and Congress standards can be safeguarded and maintained. All final decisions regarding the Congress will be made by the ISPAH Board, in collaboration with the PCO.

It is essential that the aims and objectives of the Host Organization are consistent with those of ISPAH. It is desirable that the Host Organization is an academic institution or closely linked with an academic institution with expertise in physical activity and health. It is also desirable for the Host to have a track record in working with, or contributing to, the mission of the Society.

It is highly desirable that the Host Organisation will look to leverage the opportunity of hosting the Congress to further national actions on physical activity and plan for a Congress legacy. The Host Organisation is strongly encouraged to collaborate with relevant interested stakeholders across government, non-government, academia and civil society to secure the maximum impact and benefit from hosting the Congress.

The Host Organisation and ISPAH will establish an Organising Committee which will oversee logistics and planning of the Congress in partnership with the PCO, such as sourcing a venue, managing logistics including audio-visual services, and event management. Membership of the committee should be carefully selected to reflect the full range of tasks to be undertaken and completed in the preparations of the Congress.  At least one member of the organising committee will be an ISPAH board member and at least one should be an Early Career Professional from the Host Organization or other local agency. The Early Career Professional will specifically support the ISPAH Early Career Network in organising Congress activities for early career delegates.

The Host Organisation, in collaboration with ISPAH, will also appoint a Scientific Committee which will be responsible for the organisation of the scientific program of the Congress. Membership of the committee should be proposed by the Host Organisation and can include international members. At least one member of the scientific committee will be an ISPAH board member.

Membership of both the Organising Committee and Scientific Committee should be in line with ISPAH’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy. The Host organisation will work closely with ISPAH and the PCO for the successful and efficient conduct of both the Organising Committee and the Scientific Committee.

Part CStructure of the Congress

The official language of the Congress will be English. 
The Congress should contain combinations of the following session formats:

  • Opening Ceremony
  • Plenary (keynote) Sessions
  • Free Paper Sessions (concurrent across multiple themes)
  • Poster Display Sessions (either electronic or hard copy)
  • Symposia (invited or identified from submitted abstracts)
  • Closing Ceremony

Other possibilities (non-mandatory) include:

  • Workshops / Tutorial Sessions
  • Round Table Discussions
  • Early morning breakfast tutorials
  • Other formats that stimulate active participation

Specific Additional Requirements

Len Almond keynote

One keynote, ideally with a focus on the translation of research into practice, will be called the ‘Len Almond’ keynote, in commemoration of the contribution that Len made to the field.

ISPAH Board Meeting

During the Congress, ISPAH will hold a face-to-face Board meeting, usually two days before the Congress opening. The meeting will be a minimum of a half day and could be up to a full day in duration. The Host Organisation is requested to help arrange this meeting and venue.

ISPAH Biennial Business Meeting

During the Congress, the society will hold its biennial business meeting. This meeting will take place at a time when no other sessions are being held and when attendance is likely to be maximised. The Host Organisation is requested to help arrange this 90-minute meeting and venue.

Opportunity for meetings or symposia of ISPAH’s Councils and Partners

During the Congress each of ISPAH’s Councils and partners should be given an opportunity within the programme to meet with its members and/or hold a symposium.

Social Program

The Host Organisation and Organising Committee are responsible for suggesting potential venues and themes for the social functions during the Congress, as well as a range of physical activity opportunities. The Host Organisation and Organising Committee will work with the PCO and ISPAH to manage the logistics of the events. Organisers are encouraged to propose events which will allow delegates and guests to experience the culture of the host region. Examples of previous activities include formal dinners, music and dancing, led walks and performing arts.

Optional workshops

ISPAH aims to ensure that delegates maximize their experience while at the Congress. This may be facilitated by offering optional workshops on the days before or after the Congress. The Board will particularly favour bids that offer workshops or other opportunities to early career delegates, and these events can be supported by the ISPAH Early Career Network.

Part DFacilities

The following details should be regarded as guidelines and may be modified according to local needs.


The site proposed for the ISPAH Congress should be located in a readily accessible area, and within easy distance of an international airport which should be served by both public and private transport. When selecting the Host Organisation, careful consideration will be given to the cost of traveling to and staying at the site.


The Congress venue should be in close proximity to adequate hotel accommodation. The PCO and the Host Organization should provide proposals from various hotel properties which will serve as the Congress hotel room block. Various facilities differing in price and services should be available. The Host Organization, in collaboration with the PCO, will conduct final negotiations with the hotel properties and be responsible for the management of the hotel room blocks.

Venue Facilities

The following facilities are recommended to adequately host the Congress.

A. Opening Ceremony and Plenary Sessions

Seating capacity for approximately 1,200 delegates in a theater-style hall with large-screen projection capabilities.

B. Parallel Session Rooms

Facilities should be available that allow for the holding of 6-10 concurrent sessions that can accommodate the total number of delegates. Ideally these sessions will take place in relatively equal sized rooms (with a capacity of 150-250 persons), with careful consideration given to the seating capacity and seating configuration for the types of sessions planned.  

C. Poster Space

Adequate space for poster sessions (either electronic or hard copy) should be arranged along with the necessary boards for mounting posters (if hard copy format is opted for). The programme and space should allow for 600-800 posters across the event (e.g., at least 200 posters per day for a 3-day event).

D. Registration Space

The registration space should be readily accessible throughout the Congress and be of sufficient size and configuration to allow for the smooth registration of all delegates.

E. ISPAH Meeting Room

ISPAH will require a meeting room/office that can accommodate up to 18 people that should be available exclusively to the ISPAH Board throughout the Congress. The Board will also require access to a PC, photocopier, paper, and printer throughout the Congress.

F. Speaker-Ready Room

One small room is to be available to speakers to prepare and test their multimedia presentations, and to upload presentations to the relevant rooms and sessions. A team of knowledgeable technicians should be available to assist speakers with this task.

G. Media/Press Room

This space should offer workstations with high-speed internet access and power outlets for real-time reporting and communication. Additionally, it should include one or several spaces where interviews can be conducted. These interview spaces should provide a quiet and comfortable environment for media personnel to interact with speakers and delegates.

H. ISPAH Membership Booth 

A 3 X 3 meter space is required for ISPAH to promote the Society and to register new members.

I. Future Congress Promotion

An exhibit space for the next Congress should be available to promote attendance and provide information about the next biennial Congress.

J. Exhibition Area

Exhibits featuring the latest products and programs about physical activity and health add to the educational value of the Congress. The Host Organisation and venue must provide for an exhibition area in close proximity to the educational sessions. Refreshments should be served in or near the exhibit area during scheduled refreshment breaks. The Organising Committee is responsible for determining hours of operation and viewing.

K. Lunch and Break Facilities

There should be adequate eating facilities for lunch during the Congress that permit all delegates to eat within a reasonable time period and in a comfortable setting. Beverages should be provided for morning and afternoon breaks.

L. Information and Communications

A wi-fi internet service should be provided within the Congress venue, and if at all possible, this should be provided free or at reduced costs to delegates within the Congress centre.

Part ELogistics


ISPAH will develop and manage a secure Congress website, available in English and in the language(s) of the host country, including abstract submission system and registration portal, accessible through the main ISPAH website at The Host will provide relevant content and imagery for inclusion in the Congress website when requested and in a timely manner. The website will go live no later than 15 months prior to the Congress. 

Online registration of delegates

The PCO will oversee the management of delegate registration, which is collected through ISPAH’s dedicated Congress website. The Host and PCO will work with the Chair of the ISPAH Communications Committee and the ISPAH Director of IT Systems to finalise the delegate registration form.

The congress outline program (program at a glance) should be finalized before registration is launched to ensure delegates can sign up for all available sessions and activities that require pre-registration (e.g., ECN workshop, Council meetings, and social activities). There should be an option for delegates to indicate their main area of interest specific to the themes/sessions decided by the scientific committee so as to organize appropriate room sizes.


The ISPAH Communications Committee will be responsible for developing all Congress marketing materials in line with the ISPAH Branding Guidelines. The Host and PCO will provide all required content to the ISPAH Communications Committee (such as information about the Host, venue and location, country specific imagery in suitable formats, and keynote biographies) when requested and in a timely manner. Any imagery provided must not breach copyright law and should be of sufficient quality to display on digital and print marketing.

Communication strategy

The PCO will prepare a Congress communications strategy no later than 12 months prior to the Congress. The plan will include email marketing, newsletters and social media posts. The ISPAH Communications Committee will be responsible for formatting and disseminating all congress communications outlined in the plan. The Host and the PCO will be responsible for providing the required content to the ISPAH Communications Committee.

All social media posts will be communicated via the ISPAH social media accounts in collaboration with the ISPAH Communications Committee.

All marketing and communications should be GDPR compliant.

Part FFinancial Terms

ISPAH will underwrite 75% of the Congress costs, the Host is expected underwrite the remaining 25%. Bids that have secured funding support, either internally or from external agencies, will be viewed favorably. All financial contributors to the Congress must comply with ISPAH’s partnerships and sponsorship policy.

The Host Organisation will provide the PCO a quote from the proposed venue, including costs for various meal functions. The shortlisted destination will work closely with the PCO to develop a preliminary budget for the Congress including registration fees for delegates (typically differential rates for low, middle and high-income countries), catering, keynote speaker fee waiver and expenses, expected sponsorship, fees for exhibitors, advertising, expendables such as programme printing and delegate badges, and costs of social activities. The budget should include registration fee waiver for all ISPAH board members including the Secretariat (14-18 delegate places). We also encourage the hosts to waiver the delegate fee for members of the scientific and organizing committees.

Registration rates for ISPAH members should be significantly lower than non-member rates, with the aim of incentivizing delegates to become ISPAH members.

An administration fee of $30 (USD) should be factored into the delegate fee and paid to ISPAH for administrative services provided, including website development, support with branding, and advertising.

ISPAH will retain 75% of any profit; the Host Organisation will receive the remaining 25%.

Part GSustainability and Carbon Neutrality

ISPAH is committed to environmental sustainability and aims to minimize the carbon footprint of its biennial Congress. In alignment with global efforts to combat climate change, ISPAH encourages all Host Organizations to work towards organizing carbon-neutral Congresses.

In line with this commitment, the following principles should guide the planning and execution of the Congress:

Waste Reduction and Recycling:

  • Efforts will be made to minimize waste generation by implementing practices such as reducing single-use plastics and encouraging recycling.

Energy Efficiency:

  • The Congress will strive to use energy-efficient facilities and equipment to reduce energy consumption.
  • If possible, renewable energy sources will be explored to power the event.

Carbon Footprint Reduction:

  • Efforts will be made to minimize the carbon footprint associated with travel and accommodation.
  • Delegates will be encouraged to consider low-impact transportation options when traveling to and from the Congress.

Sustainable Food Choices:

  • The Congress will provide sustainable food options, including vegetarian and vegan choices, to minimize the environmental impact of food consumption.
  • Efforts will be made to reduce food waste through thoughtful planning.

Carbon Offset Programs:

When necessary, carbon offset programs may be utilized to compensate for any remaining emissions.

Delegate Engagement:

Delegates will be encouraged to actively participate in these sustainability efforts by:

  • Reducing their personal carbon footprint through sustainable travel choices.
  • Minimizing waste generation by recycling and reducing single-use items.
  • Supporting sustainable food options at the Congress.
  • Engaging in discussions related to environmental and sustainability topics within the scientific program.

ISPAH’s Commitment:

ISPAH will provide guidance, support, and resources to the Host to help implement and track these sustainability initiatives. Together, we aim to create a Congress that not only advances knowledge in physical activity and health but also demonstrates our commitment to a sustainable and environmentally responsible future. By working together, ISPAH and the Host can set an example for a healthier planet and contribute to the global effort to combat climate change.

Part HSelection Process

Expressions of Interest

ISPAH will call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from interested Host Organisations. This will be conducted at least 2 and preferably 3-4 years prior to the year of the Congress under consideration. Interested Host Organisations should refer to the final part of this guidance document (PART J – Page 17) when preparing their bid.

Selection of Host Organisation

All EOI’s for hosting the Congress will be reviewed by the ISPAH Board. Final selection of the Host Organisation will be decided by a majority vote of the ISPAH Board. There will be a minimum quorum present at the time of voting. Members of the Board will declare any conflict of interest prior to the voting. If required, the President-Elect will cast the deciding vote.

All applicants will be notified of the decision as soon as possible.

The preferred Host Organisation must provide a written acceptance and proceed to establish a written and signed Memorandum of Understanding with ISPAH to secure the hosting of the Congress. If a Memorandum of Understanding is not finalised within a reasonable timeframe, ISPAH reserves the right to withdraw the offer to Host the Congress.    

Part ISummary of Congress Roles and Responsibilities

Suggested organisational structure

  1. Leadership committee (oversight and strategic decision making – with representation from ISPAH, PCO and the local host)
  2. Scientific committee – responsible for developing programme content (led by the local team, with representation from ISPAH as co-chair)
  3. PCO – responsible for logistics

ISPAH will:

  • Underwrite 75% of the financial risk
  • Have final decision-making power
  • Appoint a representative to Co-chair the leadership committee
  • Convene a Scientific Committee to develop the Congress programme. Committee membership should align with ISPAH’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy.  
  • Appoint a representative to Co-chair the scientific committee
  • Develop and host a congress website, abstract submission system, registration portal and any required email accounts, to support the technical management of the congress.  
  • Lead the creation of all Congress marketing and communications in line with ISPAH’s Branding Guidelines, including emails, social media posts and newsletter entries.
  • Disseminate marketing and promotional materials via ISPAH’s communication channels in line with a congress communications strategy.
  • Provide guidance, support, and resources to the Host to help implement and track sustainability initiatives.

The Host will:

  • Underwrite 25% of the financial risk
  • Appoint a representative to Co-chair the leadership committee
  • Appoint a representative to Co-chair the scientific committee
  • Provide input on all elements of the Congress
  • Provide ISPAH with relevant content and imagery for inclusion on the congress website.
  • Work with the ISPAH Communications Committee to develop relevant marketing materials that conform to the ISPAH Brand Guidelines.
  • Recruit volunteers to provide on-the-ground support throughout the Congress
  • Work with the PCO to compile a post-congress report to ISPAH.
  • Commit to working towards environmental sustainability in all aspect of the Congress.

The PCO will:

  • Provide administrative and financial management support to the Host and ISPAH.
  • Oversee and manage all Congress logistics including managing the speakers, participants, venue, accommodation, food and beverages, suppliers, and sponsors and exhibitors.
  • Manage the social events with input from the local Hosts and ISPAH
  • Provide onsite support during the Congress.
  • Work with the Host to compile a post-congress report to ISPAH.
  • Collaborate with the Host to implement sustainability measures throughout the Congress and oversee their execution.


Part JGuidance for Expressions of Interest to Host the ISPAH Congress

Host Organisation/Coordination

  1. Who will be the responsible host organisation? Please list the lead and any other planned or confirmed collaborative partners. 
  2. Please indicate proposed months of the year and even possible dates during which the Congress will be held. Please provide any reasons why you prefer/ suggest these dates. NOTE: ISPAH favours Sept – Nov
  3. Please specify the members you would plan to be on the Organising Committee with a short description of their expertise. NOTE: committee membership should align with ISPAH’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Policy
  4. Please describe how the aims and objectives of the partners align with those of ISPAH and any direct links with the Society to date. 
  5. Please summarise any prior experience you have in organising and hosting national or international conferences on physical activity or related scientific areas.

Venue and Logistics

  1. Please provide details on the proposed congress venue, including full address.
  2. Please describe the facilities provided by the proposed venue, including the availability of space and capacity limits for e.g., opening ceremony (for approx. 1200 delegates); parallel session rooms; poster display areas; exhibition space; registration space; meeting rooms; speaker-ready room.
  3. Please describe any plans for providing facilities for national and international media coverage.
  4. Please outline your intended plans for catering. For example, would the congress registration price be inclusive of:
    1. Refreshments on arrival in morning – tea/coffee, and fresh fruit
    1. Mid-morning – tea/coffee, and fresh fruit 
    1. Lunch – with primarily healthy options
    1. Afternoon – tea/coffee, and fresh fruit 
  5. Please outline what provision there is for pre- or post-congress workshops or events, hosted either at the congress venue or at other venues locally.  

Travel and Accommodation

  1. Please describe what accommodation would be available at or close to the venue.
  2. Please explain what travel options, including active travel and public transport, are available to delegates who may not stay within walking distance to the congress venue.
  3. Please describe the availability and convenience of the international airport and ground transportation to the host city from around the world. Comment on whether the airport is well served by major airlines from different regions and whether any internal flights are required (and if so, the frequency, price and convenience of these).

Programme and events

  1. Within the broad field of physical activity and health, please identity 2-3 potential themes for the Congress. Please note, the final themes will be agreed through discussion with the ISPAH Board.
  2. Please explain your plans for
    1. An opening reception
    1. A congress dinner/party
    1. Other social and/or cultural events
    1. Physical activity opportunities

NOTE: If you have no intention to include these events please indicate.

  • It is important that Congress hosts leverage the hosting of the Congress to gain national commitment and/or a lasting legacy or impact of the event to promote and support physical activity. Please describe the potential impact of hosting the Congress upon policy, practice and research in your country. 


  1. Please list any organisation that have agreed to financially support the Congress. If any agencies are from the private sector, please outline the main industry/ products they are responsible for.
  2. Please list other potential sources of funding to support the Congress. If you plan to approach any agencies from the private sector, please outline the main industry/ products they are responsible for. 
  3. Please insert a draft budget for the event, indicating major cost elements and projected revenues. Please refer to the Guidelines for Hosting the ISPAH congress (above) when preparing the budget forecast.

Host Country

  1. Are there any cultural or religious considerations and customs which would be important for the host and attending delegates to take into consideration?
  2. Is access to the proposed host country and the availability of visas adequate for all participants wishing to attend the ISPAH Congress? Also, please indicate current visa charges for travelling to your country. 

Environmental Responsibility and Commitments

Please describe your plans to facilitate any of the following principles:

  1. Carbon Footprint Assessment
  2. Emissions Reduction (i.e., measures to reduce emissions, such as using energy-efficient facilities, promoting public transportation, and minimizing waste generation)
  3. Renewable Energy
  4. Carbon Offset Programs
  5. Sustainable Practices (i.e., encourage sustainable practices during the Congress, such as minimizing single-use plastics, recycling, and providing vegetarian and vegan meal options to reduce the environmental impact of food consumption)
  6. Engagement and Awareness (i.e., promote awareness among delegates and partners about the environmental initiatives and encourage their participation in reducing the Congress’ carbon footprint)



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