Supporting athletes in the lead-up to and during Beijing 2022
The IOC AC also held its traditional joint meeting with the IOC Executive Board (EB). Focusing on the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the IOC EB and AC discussed the engagement with the athletes in the lead-up to and during the Games with a view to ensuring a safe and healthy Games experience.
Following the release of the Beijing 2022 Playbooks detailing the comprehensive COVID-19 guidelines for the Games, the IOC AC held a call last week with athletes’ commissions worldwide to brief athletes on the specificities of the Playbooks, answer their questions, receive feedback and give them the latest updates on Games preparations. The importance of this direct relationship with the athlete community leading up to the Games was underlined by Terho to the EB: “The engagement for the call was very high, and there were many questions asked on the Playbooks and countermeasures. These discussions are very valuable, as in the calls we can give the athlete community as much clarity as possible - and also hear if there are points of concern.” A follow-up call will be organised once the second version of the Playbooks is released in December.
During Beijing 2022, the IOC AC will connect with the athletes to ensure that they are aware of all the resources available on Athlete 365. A key activation will also be the election of two new IOC AC members, chosen from among a record 17 candidates (10 women and 7 men) covering all five continents. The AC briefed the EB on the preparations for the election, as well as its goal to encourage as many athletes as possible to vote in the voting stations located in each Athlete365 space in each of the three Olympic Villages.
Maximising the IOC AC’s impact
The IOC AC will continue to prioritise its support to athletes and athlete representatives worldwide beyond Beijing 2022. The Commission held an initial discussion on its future priorities and the need to update its current strategy, developed in 2017.
During 2021, the IOC AC has been consulting with the global network of athletes’ commissions to hear their views on the IOC AC Strategy and the impact it has had on them. From this consultation, so far the IOC AC has heard that ACs would like more engagement between ACs through webinars, workshops, mentoring, meetings and sharing best practice. ACs rank empowering athlete participation in Olympic Movement decision-making processes as the most important pillar of the strategy.
Some key areas identified through this consultation are:
- further strengthening the AC network across the Olympic Movement
- focusing on athletes’ physical and mental well-being
- strengthening career transition for athletes
- increasing support to athletes and
- enhancing the Athlete365 platform and increasing reach through language.
The necessity to further reflect the current needs of athletes in the updated strategy was also highlighted by the IOC AC members during the meeting, as well as aligning with the recommendations included in Olympic Agenda 2020+5 and the recently announced Olympism365 strategy, which is aimed at promoting the Olympic values every day, everywhere.
Further AC sessions will be held to refine the strategy further, with a view to finalising it after Beijing 2022.
Supporting athletes through #MentallyFit initiatives
The Commission also discussed the numerous athlete support programmes that are made available through the IOC, focusing in particular on athletes’ mental health.
In recognition of the fact that one in three elite athletes experiences mental health symptoms and disorders at some point during their career, the IOC Mental Health in Elite Athlete Toolkit was developed to assist IFs, NOCs, athletes’ entourage, health professionals and other stakeholders in developing and implementing initiatives related to the protection and promotion of mental health and well-being in elite athletes.
The Mentally Fit Helpline, a 24-hour, dedicated helpline offering mental health and well-being support for athletes that was launched in Tokyo 2020, will again be available for all athletes competing at Beijing 2022.