Pedro Yang competed in badminton for Guatemala at Athens 2004, and worked in athletes’ commissions from 2002 to 2016.
Much of his work on the IOC AC and IOC Athletes’ Entourage Commission focused on Prevention of Harassment and Abuse in Sport (PHAS) initiatives.
The IOC Safeguarding Toolkit is one of the best resources to help sports organisations support athletes.
I have been interested in athletes’ commissions and athletes’ rights since the start of my sporting career. I joined the Badminton World Federation (BWF) AC in 2002, two years before I competed at the 2004 Olympic Games, and was then appointed to the IOC AC in 2008 for eight years, where I worked directly on PHAS initiatives.
Before I joined the IOC AC, a lot of the work being done on harassment and abuse in sport was research and information gathering. During my time there, though, we were able to develop the safeguarding toolkit to give to International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) as a blueprint for education and raise awareness on safeguarding athletes from abuse.
This toolkit and other resources are vital because they provide concrete solutions for sports organisations to follow. If there were no guidelines and it was left to every local authority to revise the rules, it would be so much harder to have a synchronised movement to protect athletes from all types of abuse that safeguarding experts have identified, e.g. verbal and physical abuse, hazing, sexual harassment, etc.
Though the guidelines are there, they might be implemented differently in various parts of the world due to cultural differences, but if we can raise awareness of the toolkit with ACs and empower them, they will be able to work closely with local sports organisations to adopt localised guidelines which will support athletes in their community.
AS AN ATHLETE, YOU MAY KNOW WHAT YOUR RIGHTS ARE NOW, WE NEED SPORTS ORGANISATIONS TO CREATE AN ATMOSPHERE THAT MAKES EVERY ATHLETE FEEL SAFE.
In recent years, the prevention of harassment and abuse in sport has become a well-discussed topic in ACs, forums, and other meetings, which we hope will encourage current sports organisations to use all the means available to them to protect athletes from any further abuse in sport.
I remember at an athlete forum in 2016, it was one of the first times that we had a lot of athletes hearing about the prevention of harassment and abuse, as it was one of the topics of the various sessions. It was not surprising to see that almost all the athletes attending the forum knew of a case, but one thing that most of them had in common was that these cases were under the radar, and we need to let everyone know that this is not the right way to treat these cases. Even though, as an athlete, you may know what your rights are now, we need sports organisations to create an atmosphere that makes every athlete feel safe.
The responsibility of the entourage
At the IOC Athletes’ Entourage Commission, we have a large amount of responsibility when it comes to safeguarding athletes. It is our duty to educate the people around athletes, from parents to coaches, medical staff, etc. If we can do that effectively, then we can better protect not only the integrity of the athletes, but also their performances.
It is our job to educate and motivate IFs, NOCs and other sports organisations to implement guidelines to protect athletes and to have a system that encourages you to speak up and be heard. The IOC has a direct two-week mandate during the Olympic Games, but we have to make sure that we keep fighting for recommendations to go forward to protect athletes during the time when they are not competing, too.
It is important to remember that this applies to all athletes, not just those at elite level. We need help from everyone to give confidence to athletes, so that if something happens to you or one of your team-mates, you have an environment in which you can speak up and something will be done to protect you.
If you want to learn more about Safe Sport and how to spot and report abuse, click here for more resources.
IT IS OUR DUTY TO EDUCATE THE PEOPLE AROUND ATHLETES.