The IOC AC met in Lausanne to reflect on 2019 and map out the year ahead.

A number of senior IOC staff joined the meeting to provide updates and invite discussion on pressing issues related to athletes.

The Commission looked ahead to Tokyo 2020 and the IOC Athletes’ Commission election.

21 JANUARY 2020

Dear Athletes, 

On 16 January, the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) and I held our latest meeting in Lausanne to discuss and listen to presentations on a number of topics relating to athlete rights, welfare and representation. This followed our positive joint meeting with the IOC Executive Board on 9 January.

Discussing athlete issues 

Among the key IOC AC initiatives presented was the Athletes’ Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities, as we looked at feedback received at last year’s International Athletes’ Forum and put forward ideas to take back to the Steering Committee for implementation among International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs). IOC AC Vice-Chair Danka Bartekova also provided an update on the IOC AC Strategy and the results of a recent survey conducted among athlete representatives. A lot of work has been done on the strategy since its launch in 2017, and the IOC AC is keen to review and adapt to ensure it is focused on priority areas.

There was a review of feedback from the participants of the 2019 International Athletes’ Forum. The AC recommended keeping the scope of the Forum to include all NOCs in order for it to be a truly global representation of athletes. The next edition of the International Athletes’ Forum will take place in 2021 in the Olympic Capital, Lausanne.

We also discussed anti-doping and the development of our Olympic Medal Reallocation Ceremony initiative, with an update on the number of medal ceremonies completed and those planned for this year. We also addressed the success and continued growth of our Athlete365 platform and in particular Athlete365 Career+, which is continuing to up-skill athletes around the world and make them better equipped for the world of work.

Athletes’ Declaration 

In relation to the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibility Declaration, a discussion arose around how to protect athletes who wish to keep politics out of sport and want to compete against athletes from all nationalities.

Athletes have an essential role to play in respecting political neutrality on the field of play. Some athletes are put in a difficult position by governments to not compete against specific nationalities. It is important to help and protect athletes who wish to remain neutral and compete against all athletes.

Updates on key topics 

A number of IOC staff joined the meeting to provide updates on various key topics. For example, we discussed the latest changes to Rule 40 with IOC Chief Executive Officer Lana Haddad; IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Office Pâquerette Girard Zappelli provided us with an update on the work of the International Partnership Against Corruption in Sport (IPACC) for the benefit of athletes; Richard Budgett updated us on the consultation process with regard to inclusion and non-discrimination of athletes based on gender identity and sex characteristics; and Kit McConnell presented the IOC’s recent progress in gender equality, including at the Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020, which is the first Olympic Winter event to have equal numbers of men and women competing.

We also had a speech/talk from IOC President Thomas Bach, who emphasised how athletes are at the heart of the Olympic Movement and underlined how important the Athletes’ Commission is to the IOC and wider Olympic Movement.

Throughout the meeting, the need for clear and continuous dialogue across the global network of athlete representatives, as well as direct engagement with athletes, was emphasised.

In addition to increasing the support and services available to the wider athlete community, the need for and importance of greater transparency from IFs and NOCs regarding the allocation of direct and indirect support to athletes was highlighted. I will be joined by Andrew Ryan (ASOIF), Sarah Lewis (AIOWF), Kit McConnell (IOC Sports Director) and James Mcleod (IOC NOC Relations Director) as part of a new working group tasked with addressing this topic.

Towards Tokyo  

A number of our Commission members have been helping out and engaging with the young athletes at Lausanne 2020, with Kikkan Randall, Emma Terho and Hong Zhang offering their winter wisdom in inspirational Chat with Champions sessions in the Youth Olympic Village. We discussed the success of the 3rd Winter YOG and looked ahead to Tokyo 2020, with Danka Bartekova and Britta Heidemann updating the Commission about how we will continue to engage with athletes in the run-up to and during the Games, building on the work we’ve done in 2019, which saw us engage in person with around 12,300 athletes across the globe.

The IOC Athletes’ Commission election will be a key focus for our us this year, with mine and four other members’ terms coming to an end. Four new members will be elected at Tokyo 2020 and I outlined the list of 30 candidates, representing 30 countries and 19 summer sports. I am excited to see the ideas and energy they bring to our Commission in what is such an exciting year for athletes.

In the Olympic spirit,

Kirsty Coventry