The programme

The 9th International Athletes’ Forum opened with a plenary session presented by IOC President Thomas Bach and IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) Vice-Chair Danka Bartekova. After a presentation entitled “Direct and indirect support to athletes” from Lana Haddad, James MacLeod, and Olivier Niamkey, the working groups were created, and various topics were discussed. The working groups reviewed the continental forums and recommendations, how to be effective as an athletes’ commission, and athletes’ experience at the Games. To tie up the first day of the Forum, Danka Bartekova led a session on anti-doping and took part in a panel discussion alongside IOC Medical and Scientific Director Richard Budgett and WADA COO Frédéric Donzé.

The second day of the Forum began with a session on Olympic Agenda 2020 and the future of the Olympic Games, with the panellists discussing how to enhance the athlete experience at the Games whilst keeping athletes at the heart of Games planning. In the afternoon, the focus moved to athlete protection, with Yelena Isinbaeva speaking about safeguarding and a panel discussion on the importance of mental health.

IOC President Bach concluded the second day of the Forum with a Q&A session alongside a number of other members of the IOC Executive Board (EB).

The final day saw a joint operation with the World Olympians Association, with various workshops and discussions taking place before the end of the Forum.


For the first time, the ACs of all 206 NOCs were invited to the Forum and joined ACs from IFs, WADA, OCOGs, Continental Associations, and the IPC, to make the 2019 Forum the biggest-ever.

  • The impact of the IOC AC Strategy
  • Athletes’ Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities
  • Supporting athletes’ commissions globally
Outcomes and recommendations

The 9th International Athletes’ Forum was the largest yet and recognised the importance of the creation of the Athletes’ Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities in 2018. IOC President Bach expressed his support for the Declaration and reminded athlete representatives present to make their voices heard. At the end of the Forum, nine key recommendations were made:

  1. Athlete representation: It should be essential that elections are required for athletes’ commissions in every NOC and IF, as is done at the Olympic Games for the IOC Athletes’ Commission.
  2. Bolster the Solidarity funding model: The IOC should continue to strengthen the solidarity funding model because it serves all athletes from all 206 NOCs and all Olympic sports. Additionally, the funding stream should remain as transparent as possible.
  3. Strengthen direct financial support to NOC ACs: A proposal of up to USD 10,000 should be made available to the athletes’ commissions of NOCs and Continental Associations of NOCs per commission per year, available on application, to support regular engagement activities with athletes.
  4. Support career transition: The IOC should continue to support a smooth career transition for athletes, with programmes such as the Athlete365 Business Accelerator.
  5. Protect clean athletes: The identification of enablers of doping should be improved, and strong sanctions imposed on them, including doctors, medical staff, coaches and officials.
  6. Focus on mental health: Raise more awareness about the importance of mental health and work towards developing a toolkit to support athletes’ commissions and other sporting bodies.
  7. Support the Athletes’ Declaration: Participants should pledge to work with their respective organisations to adopt and implement the Athletes’ Declaration.
  8. Encourage athletes to be ambassadors: The IOC should develop an IOC ambassador programme to inspire young people, and to promote Olympic values and the power of sport worldwide.
  9. Foster engagement among the AC network: The IOC is to launch an Athlete365 app dedicated to athlete representatives, facilitating communication between athletes’ commissions around the world, increasing engagement.