1981:
Creation of the Athletes’ Commission

In a letter dated October 1981 to his eventual successor Thomas Bach, describing the formation of the very first IOC Athletes’ Commission, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch wrote: “I have decided to create an IOC Commission for athletes. This Commission will act as the spokesman of all athletes to the International Olympic Committee.”

The Commission’s first meeting took place in May 1982 in Rome. At the time, its members were the six athletes who had spoken at the Congress, plus a seventh member, Edwin Moses (USA).

Many of the topics that were on the agenda are still relevant today. The Commission discussed the fight against doping, gender equality, and for the Olympic Games to be free of political influence and pressure. At the Olympic Games Seoul 1988, the Athletes’ Commission took on its highest-profile role since its inception. It held a meeting with 100 athletes from 38 different countries, and staffed an office in the Olympic Village on a daily basis. The Commission was so successful in mediating between athletes and Olympic officials that President Samaranch invited a member to be part of the daily coordination meeting during the Games.

For the first 13 years, the entire Commission was appointed by the IOC President, but from the Olympic Winter Games Lillehammer 1994 onwards, the majority of members have been elected by their fellow athletes, and as time has gone by, athlete representatives have taken on a progressively bigger role within the IOC itself. In 2000, eight Athletes’ Commission members became IOC Members, and the first athlete representative joined the IOC Executive Board.

IOC / Giulio Locatelli - Atlanta 1996, election of the members of the IOC Athletes' Commission Atlanta 1996, Election of the members of the IOC Athletes' Commission - © IOC / Giulio Locatelli

With the Olympic Agenda 2020 goal of placing the athletes at the heart of the Olympic Movement and strengthening support to athletes, the Commission serves as a link between athletes and the IOC, advising the IOC Session, the IOC Executive Board and the IOC President on matters concerning athletes.

The Commission works in liaison with the worldwide network of Athletes’ Commissions created by the National Olympic Committees and the International Sports Federations, and provides practical support to athletes throughout their journey in sport on and off the field (including in areas related to career, finance, learning, etc.) via the online platform Athlete365. This platform, created by athletes for athletes, provides tools, services and a strong global network to help athletes tackle the challenges that come with competing at an elite level.

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