IOC Executive Board and Athletes’ Commission discuss Beijing 2022 final preparations

IOC/Greg Martin IOC/Greg Martin

During their regular joint meeting, the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) discussed a number of items including:

  • the final preparations for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022
  • athletes’ experience and engagement
  • protecting clean athletes and the fight against doping
  • a new initiative to organise a Town Hall event later on this year to further engage with the athlete community

Addressing the EB members, the Chair of the IOC AC, Emma Terho, said: “In a few days, the Olympic Winter Games will open in Beijing and the athletes’ excitement is mounting. All are looking forward to competing in outstanding venues. They are also very grateful to our Chinese hosts for organising these Games, despite the difficult circumstances and for the enthusiasm shown by the Chinese sports fans so far, albeit digitally”. She continued: “The IOC and IOC AC will support the 2,900 athletes competing in Beijing, Zhangjiakou and Yanqing with a wide range of services available at the three Olympic Villages. Everything is in place to ensure that they have the best possible Olympic experience and enjoy their time here in China.”

With only three days to go to the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the focus of the meeting was on the diligent preparations put in place by the organisers to allow the athletes of the world to compete at their best while ensuring the safety of all Games participants. The IOC AC members expressed their full support for the measures and reported on the very positive feedback received from the global athlete community.

Many of the 2,900 athletes due to compete at the Games have already landed in Beijing or are about to arrive. Many have expressed their gratitude and excitement about the Games before and after their arrival. Athletes are sharing their experience on social media and are being welcomed by the Chinese people across all walks of life.

The health and safety of the athletes have been one of the key principles in the delivery of the Olympic Games, with stringent COVID-19 countermeasures put in place to protect all those involved, while preserving the athletes’ experience.

Staying connected with fans and families

Part of the athletes’ experience is the digital activation during the Games. One feature will be the digital cheer map, which was introduced at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and had collected 250 million cheers from fans around the world last summer. The same programme will continue in Beijing, and these cheers will be shown on the scoreboards of every single venue.

In addition, Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) together with Athlete365 will offer the opportunity to have so-called “athlete moments” again, this time around in every single venue. Athletes will be connected digitally to their families and friends while they are still on the field of play. Athletes can sign up to celebrate their moment through Athlete365.

Athlete support and well-being

  • Mental health - The Mentally Fit Helpline is the newest addition to the mental health support services customarily in place during Games time (including the presence of on-site psychologists and psychiatrists in the Village Polyclinics), and is the latest in a series of developments from the IOC related to the protection and promotion of elite athlete mental health.

    The Mentally Fit Helpline is an independent 24-hour helpline offering confidential mental health and well-being support. It is available in over 70 languages and staffed by expert master’s level (or equivalent) counsellors who offer support for a wide range of topics, whether related to mental health symptoms and disorders or general well-being support.

    The Mentally Fit Helpline is available during the Games and for up to three months post-competition and it has been extended to cover entourage members and IF officials.

  • Safeguarding - The IOC Safe Sport Programme for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 was discussed. The IOC Games-Time Framework, which outlines how any incidents of harassment and abuse in sport during Games time may be reported and the associated procedure for responding to concerns, is in place. This framework ensures the presence of IOC Safeguarding Officers at the Games, with a member of the Safe Sport Team located in the Safe Sport Offices of each Olympic Village. The Programme is supported by an Athlete365 safeguarding campaign – installed both on site and disseminated via Athlete365 social media, in four languages (English, French, Russian and Chinese).

  • Activities with TOP Partners – A wide range of support programmes is available to athletes in Beijing. Worldwide Olympic Partner Samsung is offering every athlete a limited-edition Samsung phone. The Airbnb500 Travel Grant programme – which was first introduced for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 – will see every Olympian and Paralympian competing in Beijing given a USD 500 Airbnb travel grant to honour their incredible efforts and accomplishments at the Games.

  • Athlete365 Connect - Another offer is an app, Athlete365 Connect, which allows athletes competing at the Games to get professional photos in real-time, as they compete. They are then able to share the photos directly across their social media channels to their fans. 

Update on the anti-doping programme

Ben Cohen, Director General of the International Testing Agency (ITA), introduced the latest developments of the ITA, which is managing anti-doping programmes independently from international sports organisations and Major Event Organisers (MEO). The IOC has delegated its testing programme and results management to the ITA and the sanctioning to the Anti-Doping Division of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS ADD).

Mr Cohen reported that over 5,400 recommendations for anti-doping tests were made by an expert panel ahead of the Games in Beijing after performing a thorough and independent risk assessment resulting in an additional layer of intelligence-led doping control guidance. The recommendations went to the International Federations (IFs) and National Anti-Doping Organisations, and the programme started already in 2021. Almost every athlete for whom a testing recommendation was issued has been tested at least once before the start of the Games. Over 50 IFs and MEOs have delegated their anti-doping programmes to the ITA in the meantime.

To further strengthen the anti-doping programmes and their full independence, the IOC AC strongly encourages all the IFs, MEOs and Continental Associations to delegate their anti-doping programme to the ITA and the sanctioning of cases to the CAS ADD.

A Town Hall to further engage with the athlete community

The AC also shared the idea of holding a Town Hall event later on this year to further engage with athletes and their representatives, which was supported by the IOC EB. Building on the success of last year’s International Athletes’ Forum, the Town Hall will be another opportunity for the IOC AC to connect with athletes in 2022 (as the International Athletes’ Forum takes place every two years).

During the Town Hall event, the IOC AC will discuss with athletes the last two editions of the Games (Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022) and also engage with them on a number of subjects of interest to them. These regular discussions with athletes are important to ensure the community of athletes remain engaged on key topics within the Olympic Movement and have a regular opportunity to exchange and share their views with their peers.

IOC AC election

Lastly, it was noted that, at Beijing 2022, athletes will elect two members of the IOC AC to replace those finishing their terms. Voting opened on 27 January and closes on 16 February. Sixteen athletes are standing for election. Voting is possible for all athletes competing in Beijing in the dedicated stations that have been set up in the three Olympic Villages.

Athletes from 91 National Olympic Committees are expected to compete at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, which will take place from 4 to 20 February.

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