The IOC’s Athletes’ Commission put together a strategic programme that combined inspirational lectures, panel discussions and focused workshops to equip Athletes’ Commissions from around the world with relevant advice, tools and services to empower, excite and unite all Athlete Representatives.
On day 1 of the Forum, Athlete Representatives were given a tour of the historic Olympic Museum and welcomed by a warm address from IOC President, Dr. Thomas Bach.
Day 2 was the official kickoff of the Forum and athletes were welcomed by both the Athletes’ Commission (AC) Vice Chair, Danka Bartekova, another inspirational greeting from the IOC President and a keynote address from pioneering NASA Astronaut Yvonne Cagle who claimed athletes and astronauts share similar determination to “go after the trans-formative one percent.”
Discussions began with the direct and indirect avenues of support available to Athletes. These included Olympic Solidarity assistance programmes that provide assistance for NOCs for those in greatest need and using the Olympic Channel to engage athletes with the Olympic Movement and connect their fans and followers to their Olympic journey year round. Day 2 also enabled the Athletes to get up close and personal and breakout into continental groups to learn how to run more effective ACs. The day rounded off with a panel on Anti-doping consisting of representatives from WADA, the IOC, the International Testing Agency and the Court of Arbitration for Sport followed by a presentation on WADA’s doping control process.
Day 3 began with an opening session describing the changing landscape of society and the environment and the need for the sports world to adapt and progress with the times. A very inspiring panel of innovative thinkers included: Pierre Ducrey, IOC Olympic Games Associate Director, Kit McConnel, IOC Sports Director, Tony Estanguet, Paris 2024 CEO of the Organizing Committee of the Games, Yang Yang, Beijing 2022 AC Chair and Kaveh Mehrabi, IOC Head of Athletes Relations and Engagement.
Pierre Ducrey highlighted the importance of the legacy that the Olympic Games bring. He stated that the aim of the Olympic Games is to be sustainable, leave a legacy and to give fair chance for athletes. The quality of the delivery of the Games is important and the commitments made by the bid. It’s not just the 16 days of sport, the most impact is made after the games. Examples given were Rio’s transport system and in Siochi where there were many facilities built that children now use. “The big part of the success is the legacy,” stated Pierre.
Kit McConnel reflected on the changing landscapes and how sport reflects society. He mentioned how sport is now adapting to urban spaces and the over arching themes include equality and non-discrimination. Due to the short attention span driven by the technology of today, there is a shorter time span for sport. The upcoming themes for the approaching 2020 Tokyo Games are more youth, more urban and more women. The IOC Sports Director stated, “In Tokyo we will see lots of mixed events, more female events and lots of self expression.”
After the stimulating discussion about the upcoming games, an update on the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration led the participants into breakout sessions on Athlete365 Career+ as well as admin support for the International Federation (IF) Athletes’ Commissions. The new Athlete365 Business Accelerator program was also introduced which is available to all aspiring entrepreneurs and involves the completion of three main phases: Engagement, Incubation and Acceleration which include online courses, mentor-ship and personalized coaching.
Post lunch, an thought provoking panel on Mental Health followed. With a panel consisting of Olympic Champion Abhinav Bindra, chair of the IOC Entourage Commission Sergey Bubka, Olympic Bronze Medallist Gracie Gold, IBSF President Ivo Ferriani, Chief Medical Officer at FIFPro Dr. Vincent Goutterbarge, and IOC Medical and Scientific Director, Dr Richard Budgett, the session further informed and inspired the Athlete Representative network on the stigma around Mental Health and the current steps this working group is taking to ensure athletes receive the best help possible.
A two-hour-long open and honest Q&A session with IOC President Thomas Bach followed where questions on the Olympic Movement Funding Model, new sports and even Anti-Doping were addressed.
The last day was a truly historic day as “The Stars” aligned. It was the first time IOC Atheltes’ Commission and the World Olympians Association shared a day of collaboration and critical thinking. The day began with a panel discussion on the two organisations represented by IOC Vice-Chair Danka Bartekova, WOA President Joel Bouzou and IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell who spoke about the wide range of resources they contribute to their respective communities. Breakout sessions were focused on communication, leadership and how the AC’s and the OLY could collaborate, work together and help each other.
The day ended with Leadership in the Workplace spokeswoman, Gabriella Mueller Mendoza, who stole the show and guided the athletes in a life skills session on how to heavily influence and educate their audiences.
The IFMA Athletes’ Chair was truly inspired by the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission’s successful mission to empower, unite and excite Athlete Representatives from all over the globe this weekend. An organization’s values, vision and commitment truly comes from the top ranks. When you have a President of the IOC who is an Olympian and also founder of the IOC Athletes’ Commission who understands the wants and needs of the athletes and recognizes they are the heart and soul of sport, then you can feel more confident that the future of sport, at the highest level, is in good hands. The fact that the IOC President made time to attend this forum, speak and also offer himself to an open and intense 2 hour Q&A session with all athlete representatives and stakeholders speaks wonders on his care, commitment and belief that the athletes are truly at the heart of the Olympic Movement. On various occasions His Excellency stated, “Sitting at the table not only with a voice but a vote is the strongest and most impactful representation anyone can have.” – a reminder to all athletes of the importance of Athletes’ Commissions and how their voice and the power of sport can be a powerful platform to empower others.