On 25 February, IOC Athletes’ Commission Vice-Chair Danka Bartekova provided an update to the Global Network of Athletes’ Commissions on the topics below:

  • Debrief on IOC AC meetings in January 2020, including Rule 50 guidelines
  • Rule 40
  • Coronavirus
  • International Weightlifting Federation

Dear Fellow Athletes,

On 25 February we scheduled a call with all the Athletes’ Commissions network, the first this year, led by Vice-Chair Danka Bartekova. In addition to nearly 80 athlete representatives on the call, we heard updates from the IOC Medical and Scientific Director, Dr Richard Budgett, and the IOC Sports Director, Kit McConnell.

Debrief on the AC meetings in January, including Rule 50 guidelines

As you know, as an Athletes’ Commission we meet several times per year in person and by conference call to discuss issues relevant to athletes globally and to make recommendations to the IOC and organisations across the Olympic Movement. Our most recent in-person meeting was in January, during the IOC Commissions week when all the IOC’s commissions get together.

During this week, we also took the opportunity to have a joint meeting with the IOC Executive Board and a joint meeting with the Athletes’ Entourage Commission. These collaborations are really valuable for us.

Our AC members also sit on many other IOC commissions and attend these meetings to add the athletes’ voice to every commission topic, from the Olympic Channel and Olympic Solidarity to the Medical and Scientific Commission and many more. That is why it is important for us that you share with us your feedback and views so we can relay these to all the relevant people on these important occasions.

We began with a joint meeting with the IOC Executive Board, and as you have probably seen, after this meeting we published the Rule 50 Guidelines. They are available on Athlete365 here.

Athletes’ Entourage Commission

We also met with the Athletes’ Entourage Commission to discuss collaboration on a number of projects, particularly the development of the Athlete365 Learning platform and the crucial role it plays in educating athletes and their entourage.

As athletes receive most of their information from their coach alone, it remains a key focus for us to upskill and educate coaches – and other members of the entourage – on important topics such as career, integrity and mental health.

Athletes’ Commission meeting

As mentioned, we meet to update each other on all the programmes we run for athletes, and also to receive updates from the IOC administration on various projects. We also discuss current important athlete issues.

For a full report on this meeting, see here.

Lausanne 2020

In January, our Commission members helped out and engaged with the young athletes competing at the Youth Olympic games Lausanne 2020.

Kikkan Randall, Emma Terho and Hong Zhang offered their winter wisdom in inspirational Chat with Champions sessions in the Youth Olympic Village.

Danka was the Chair of the Coordination Commission for the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games and Hong Zhang also sat as the athlete representative during the YOG daily meetings to make sure all athlete related issues were raised. We are really proud of the work they have done and what a success Lausanne was for the youth athletes.

Direct financial support for Athletes’ Commissions – NOC Athletes’ Commission Grants

As you would remember, a key announcement at the forum was the NOC Athletes’ Commission grants. This is a fund of 10 million dollars to empower NOC athletes’ Commissions around the world. Applications are now open and I am happy to say we have received some great applications already for projects for both their ACs and their athletes.

There is more information about how to apply and what kind of projects you can apply for funding for on Athlete365. If you have questions about how to apply or what kind of activities you can apply for then please contact the team athlete365@olympics.com, they are happy to help you.

Increased engagement and transparency

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 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 (Executive Director, ASOIF), Sarah Lewis (secretary General, AIOWF), Kit McConnell (IOC Sports Director) and James Macleod (IOC NOC and Olympic Solidarity Director) as part of a new working group tasked with addressing this topic. As this work progresses, we will give you more updates.

Opportunities for Olympians and athletes

We recently advertised for an opportunity for some Olympians to join the team and work in the Athlete365 space during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Together with members of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, they will be tasked with engaging with athletes in the Olympic Village to inform them about the resources available to them. Applications are now closed and we are excited to see who will join us in supporting athletes competing at the Games.

I would also like to remind you that there are incredible opportunities for athletes to generate income by creating an experience offer with the new IOC partner Airbnb. There is more information on Athlete365 about how athletes can sign up to receive help setting this up. Please spread the word among your athlete community.

Rule 40

In summer last year, the IOC amended Rule 40. The IOC’s focus was to properly balance two key concepts that were established in the Athletes’ Right and Responsibilities Declaration: (1) the rights of athletes to commercialise their image, with (2) the need to maintain the Olympic funding model, ensuring all teams from around the world, even those with no sponsorship income, can be funded on solidarity principles.

The Tokyo 2020 Rule 40 Key Principles ensure that athletes are able to seek personal sponsorshipAthletes can also continue to be involved in advertising during the Games – and can even recognise the support of personal sponsors during the Games.  The Rule 40 Key Principles provide a framework for these activities – by acting within this framework, athletes and their personal sponsors will help ensure that the Olympic funding model is not harmed by solidarity funding sources being undermined.

The Tokyo 2020 Rule 40 Key Principles impose some reasonable restrictions on athletes who have the benefit of their own sponsor deals, which helps ensure that all athletes and teams, from around the world, can continue to receive funding for training for, and competing at, the Olympic Games.

The IOC Athletes’ Commission, and the IOC itself, are aware that some athletes believe that the Rule 40 framework unjustly restricts their individual economic opportunities and rights. Therefore, we wish to conduct a comprehensive consultation on this topic, to understand athletes’ practical experiences of using the new athlete advertising Key Principles framework for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and collect feedback, so that we can make recommendations for the future.

Here are links to the relevant materials on Rule 40:

The IOC has also launched new Athlete Advertising Notification Portal for Tokyo 2020, which will make it easier for brands to notify the IOC of their advertising campaigns.

For further information on this process, please contact your NOC directly.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Everyone is very aware of the Coronavirus; I am sure you have all seen it on the news. Dr Richard Budgett, IOC Medical Director and Olympic Champion, gave an update on this topic.

As of 2 March, there were more than 89,000 cases, with around 9,000 cases outside China, especially in three countries (Iran, Italy and South Korea) with athletes coming for those areas facing some logistical problems in travelling.

The coronavirus’s symptoms are similar to the flu, with the vast majority of cases being very mild. It seriously affects elderly people or the ones with pre-existing illnesses and overall it has a 2% death rate.

It is not a pandemic at this stage and we recommend to check reliable sources to get the latest news and recommendations, such as the WHO website.

Make sure you take some simple recommendations, especially if you meet someone sick for more than one hour: wash your hands (also using alcohol when possible), keep distance from anyone who presents any symptoms, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.

Should you not feel very well, reduce your training and stay at home until you fully recover and seek medical help if needed.

Regarding implications on sport events, the IOC is working closely with the International Sports Federations and the Organising Committee Tokyo 2020 to track each qualifier event in which participation of athletes may be affected.

This is to facilitate coordination between the respective International Federations (IFs), National Federations, and National Olympic Committees and ensure any specific requirements for the participation of these athletes are clear and being followed while reflecting guidelines from the national health authorities of the countries hosting the events.

The situation varies between sports and events, and where there are impacts on the participation of athletes, the IOC will work with the relevant IF to make sure those affected have a fair opportunity to qualify.

The IOC is also working with the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) and appreciates their effort and transparency in addressing this issue. the COC also communicated where their athletes are located and facilitated their participation to sport events by keeping or moving them overseas. All athletes there were in China during the outbreak are tested and screened on a daily basis.

The IOC is also in close contact with the WHO to map out the situation and make sure to have the latest updates and recommendations.

Further information is available on Olympic.org and Athlete365.

International Weightlifting Federation

You may have seen reports on the German television ARD’s documentary, released on 5 January 2020, that brought attention on the International Weightlifting Federation.

The IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell provided some background information and spoke about the on-going process.

In 2017, the IOC Executive Board decided that the sport’s inclusion to the Paris 2024 Sport Programme is subject to the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) further demonstrating that it has fulfilled certain conditions.

The IOC EB in March 2019 decided to lift the status of conditional inclusion of weightlifting on the programme of the Olympic Games Paris 2024, a decision that was fully enforced on 14 May 2019 with the finalisation of an ITA agreement and confirmation of a successful transition of key areas of the IWF’s anti-doping programme to the Agency.

The IWF have implemented measures under 18 months of IOC monitoring including the development of the Tokyo 2020 Qualification System which rewards countries that have a track record of clean competition with Olympic quota and new strict anti-doping policies and procedures, including a significant increase of the number of out-of-competitions tests.

After ARD broadcasted its documentary (IOC Statement here), the IOC reached out to the producers and launched a Disciplinary Commission chaired by IOC EB Member Denis Oswald, to immediately follow up on the apparent doping confession of Siripuch Gulnoi, an Olympic Bronze medallist form London 2012, and her entourage, while the IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer (CECO) launched an investigation into the allegations of unethical behaviour by the IWF President.

In addition the IOC AC Vice-Chair, Danka Bartekova, who is also the appointed liaison with the Weightlifting Athlete Commission, has reached out to her IWF counterpart in order to offer support and ensure that the concerns of athletes are proper taken into consideration.


Thank you and If you would like the IOC AC to bring a topic to the attention of the IOC EB, I encourage you let me know or send your question or feedback to the IOC by email – athlete365@olympics.com

Kirsty Coventry,

IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair