12 Nov 2017
Athletes’ ready to break new ground on several fronts

The second day of the 8th IOC International Athletes’ Forum saw participants discuss the development of a ground-breaking Athlete Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, and welcome the launch of Athlete365, the exciting new brand for all IOC athlete programmes.

After an opening day that saw the global athletes’ network present a united front on key issues such as anti-doping, day two of the International Athletes’ Forum provided an opportunity for the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) to further delve into their new Strategy, and specifically their role with athletes.

The first session of day two focused on the first pillar of the Strategy: to empower athletes in Olympic Movement decision-making processes. In particular, it concentrated on the role of an athlete representative and, through discussion and feedback, explored the theme of ‘what makes an athletes’ commission effective?’

Athletes empowered by new Strategy
“We need to demonstrate to sports leadership that instead of simply complaining about different issues, an athletes’ commission can really help them,” explained IOC AC member and three-time Olympic gold medallist James Tomkins. “It’s a shift in mindset.”

Following some break-out sessions and brainstorming, it was agreed that the three most important elements in establishing an effective athletes’ communication are clear communication channels with your athlete constituents; getting the right athletes in your commission, including a balance of ages, genders, countries and sport disciplines; and providing support and resources to your athletes.

Participants then received updates from athlete representatives of the Organising Committees for future editions of the Olympic Games, with Jean-Philippe Gatien (Paris 2024) and Janet Evans (Los Angeles 2028) emphasising the involvement of athletes from the beginning of their candidatures, and how they would continue to be at the heart of every step of the planning of those Games.

Focus on athlete rights
The afternoon session saw further discussion of the ground-breaking Athlete Charter, following the productive first meeting of the Charter’s Steering Committee 24 hours earlier. Composition of the Steering Committee comprised of athletes representatives from all of the five Continental Associations, 10 International Federations, the International Paralympic Committee, the World Olympians Association and three IOC AC Members (Download list of Steering Group Members). In addition two members of the WADA Athlete Committee, Beckie Scott (chair) and Ben Sandford attended the meeting.

“This is going to be a document by the athletes, for the athletes,” Sarah Walker, who was confirmed as the chair of the steering committee during the meeting, informed participants, as she outlined the key themes outlined in the Charter – communication, governance, marketing, integrity and clean sport, sports competition, and career transition and wellbeing. “We want a minimum standard of human rights for athletes which ensure they are protected – and we have to be ‘All In’ to give this the best opportunity of working,” she added.

A panel of the Steering Committee’s representatives then took questions from the floor on issues such as enforceability and inclusivity, before workshops were held on each of the key themes, led by forum participants. The ideas contributed and feedback given during these break-out sessions will shape the development of the document, which will be discussed at the IOC Executive Board meeting next month.

Launch of Athlete365
The theme of supporting athletes on and off the field of play continued in the final session of the afternoon, as chair of the IOC AC’s communications working group, Danka Bartekova, guided participants through the launch of Athlete365 – the exciting new platform that unites all of the IOC’s athlete-focused programmes under one engaging brand.

“This is a new concept that will bring communication with athletes to a higher level. Be our ambassadors, spread the word and help us share the information,” she told the athletes’ representatives, who welcomed the initiative and vowed to engage their respective communities to usher in a new era that will witness more support for the worldwide athlete community than ever before.

Have your say
The final day of the Forum will kick off with a discussion about the ways in which to promote athlete involvement in Olympic Movement decision-making, followed by interactive workshops on how to engage with Athlete365, and finally a reflection on everything achieved over the three days.

To stay up to date with all the developments, and to submit questions to any speakers or participants – which may then be addressed at the closing session – tweet us @athleteshub using the hashtag #athlete365.