IOC continues to support growth of global network of athlete representatives

Out of 206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), 190 of them have an Athletes’ Commission (AC) to represent the interests of the country’s elite athletes. They can rely on the support of the NOC Athletes’ Commission Activity Grant, now in its third year, which provides NOCs with an annual USD 10,000 grant to organise activities led by their AC that focus on supporting athletes.

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IOC continues to support growth of global network of athlete representatives
© Latvian Olympic Committee

The NOC AC Activity Grant is fully funded by Olympic Solidarity, and aims to empower athletes and contribute to the development of an effective global athletes’ representation network at national level. The grant can also be used to fund the creation of an AC for NOCs that do not already have one.

In 2022, more than 80 NOCs applied for the grant (a significant increase on the previous year, when there were 54 applications), which helped fund a range of initiatives, from national athletes’ forums to workshops on career transition and safeguarding.

Reflecting on the growth of the initiative in 2022, Emma Terho, Chair of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) AC, said: “I’m excited by how many NOC ACs the grant continues to reach, and the positive impact it’s subsequently having on athletes around the world by helping ensure they have an effective AC by their side.

“I am very impressed by the new and innovative projects NOC ACs are organising and want to thank Olympic Solidarity for providing this vital and ongoing financial support.”

Here, we look at some of the highlights from around the world.

IOC continues to support growth of global network of athlete representatives
© Latvian Olympic Committee

First-ever national athletes’ forums for Latvia and Estonia

The respective ACs for Latvia and Estonia held their first-ever national athletes’ forums using the USD 10,000 grant from Olympic Solidarity, which focused on empowering athlete representation and promoting the involvement of athletes in decision-making processes. Latvia elected seven new members to its AC at the forum.

The forums were also an opportunity for athletes to connect with their peers to discuss:

  • Improving well-being
  • The benefits of pursuing a dual career
  • The opportunities available through Athlete365

Improving safeguarding for Filipino athletes

After holding a series of online webinars for athletes in 2021, the Philippines AC singled out improving the safeguarding of athletes as a priority for how it wanted to use the funding in 2022. With the USD 10,000 grant, it established a Safe Sport Commission within the AC and received approval from the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) Executive Board.

With the Safe Sport Commission now established as a body of the POC, the AC is working hard to ensure that each National Federation (NF) has its own safeguarding officer in place and is adopting the best practices as advised by the Safe Sport Commission.

Bringing athlete representatives together in El Salvador

After setting up its AC earlier in 2022, El Salvador used the NOC AC Activity Grant to host its first-ever National Athletes’ Forum. Over 100 athlete representatives from every NF recognised by the Olympic Committee of El Salvador attended the forum, which featured presentations on:

  • The mission, objectives and activities of the brand-new AC
  • How the AC aims to supports athletes and how athletes can engage with the AC
  • Anti-doping, sports psychology, the financing of the Olympic Movement, and personal branding

Athlete365 Career+ workshop leader José Gabriel Sagastume Ríos OLY also joined the event to highlight the benefits of joining the Athlete365 community and capitalising on the exclusive programmes, offers and resources available to members.

A new community for athletes in Palau

After the success of the Oceania Athletes’ Forum in September, the Palau AC decided to create a special event that brought Olympians and athletes who competed at the Pacific Mini Games together. It wanted to create a space in which athletes could:

  • Contribute to and help update the remit of the AC
  • Elect new members to the AC
  • Put forward new strategy ideas and activities

One new activity put forward at the event involves Palauan athletes visiting schools across the country to share their experiences of the Games and discuss how they balance a successful sporting career with work and education. The event was also an opportunity to discuss the scholarships available to athletes in the country, and the programmes they have to offer on anti-doping, leadership and nutrition.

Essential career advice for athletes in Guinea-Bissau

The Guinea-Bissau AC hosted its first Athletes’ Forum with the Activity Grant in December, which encouraged athletes to learn from one another by sharing their experiences and focused on how athletes can:

  • Utilise their sports-related skills when considering their career after sport
  • Develop the tools to better navigate their career transition
  • Learn how the AC can support their needs on and off the sporting field

The forum was also an opportunity for the AC to elect new members to join the commission and lay the foundations for the future.

An initiative from the 2019 International Athletes’ Forum

The NOC Athletes’ Commission Activity Grant was created in 2019 following a recommendation from participants at the 9th International Athletes’ Forum to strengthen direct financial support for NOC Athletes’ Commissions. The proposal was for subsidies of up to USD 10,000 per commission, per year, to be available on application to NOCs, amounting to a commitment from the IOC of up to USD 10 million per Olympiad to support athlete representation. The IOC AC took this proposal to the IOC Executive Board and received approval, with applications opening in January 2020*.*

The Olympic Solidarity NOC AC Activity Grants are available to every NOC, every year, upon application. More information on this and other programmes available to athletes can be found on Athlete365.