The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) today held their annual joint meeting in Lausanne. The meeting was an opportunity to reflect on a busy and productive year that saw the launch of a number of key programmes and initiatives for athletes and to look ahead to 2020 with the highlight of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Among the long list of topics discussed were the guidelines developed by the IOC AC around Olympic Charter Rule 50 and its implementation during the Olympic Games, the creation of a working group studying how to strengthen the solidarity funding model and how athletes are supported directly and indirectly; and the outcome of projects initiated and led by the IOC AC in the course of 2019.
Reflecting on the past year, the Chair of the IOC AC, Kirsty Coventry, commented: “In 2019, the global network of athlete representatives has emerged stronger and more united. This is as a result of a number of initiatives and events that are designed to empower athlete representatives and support athletes, such as various athlete forums and conference calls with athlete representatives worldwide. We welcome that more and more athletes feel more comfortable to express their views and can see their voice is being heard by our Commission and reflected in the prioritisation of our work”.
Rule 50 guidelines
The IOC AC conducted an extensive consultation process over the past year in order to develop Rule 50 guidelines for athletes. Although Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter has been providing a framework to protect the neutrality of sport and the Olympic Games for many years, it was felt that there was a need to provide clear guidelines to athletes as to when and where they could express their views during the Games. The IOC AC has therefore drafted a document describing the opportunities and also the framework that applies to athletes during the Olympic Games with the aim of providing clarity on Rule 50 and its implementation.
The guidelines that the IOC AC presented today were fully accepted by the EB. They will be distributed to all athletes through the Athlete365 platform, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the Athletes’ Commissions network. The document can be downloaded here.
Rule 50 was originally drafted to ensure that the focus at the Olympic Games remain on athletes’ performances, sport and the international unity and harmony that the Games seek to advance. It states that: “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
Olympic Movement athlete support
In April last year, the IOC AC organised the International Athletes’ Forum gathering together more than 350 athlete representatives, including, for the first time, representatives from NOCs. The three days of constructive dialogue resulted in nine key recommendations designed to strengthen athlete representation in the Olympic Movement.
Recommendation 2 stated the need to continue and strengthen the solidarity funding model because it serves all athletes from all 206 NOCs and all Olympic sports. In this context, it was agreed that the IOC, International Sports Federations and NOCs should continue to make the funding streams to all stakeholders even more transparent and communicate more clearly about their impact. This will help athletes have a reference point and follow up on the implementation of various support programmes available to them and have a clear view on how they can benefit from these directly and indirectly.
Moving forward, a working group has been created to deliver this project. It is composed of IOC Sports Director Kit McConnell, IOC Director of NOC Relations James Macleod, ASOIF Executive Director Andrew Ryan, AIOWF Secretary General Sarah Lewis and IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Kirsty Coventry.
Recommendation 3 was that USD 10 million in direct IOC funding per Olympiad would be provided to NOC Athletes’ Commissions. NOCs can now apply for a USD 10,000 yearly Olympic Solidarity grant to fund Commission’s activities, or access the funding required to organise elections and establish a commission.
Career transition, dual careers and athlete employability were also addressed during the meeting. The EB was updated on the outcome of the Athlete365 Career+ Forum held on 3 and 4 November in Lake Placid (USA) where 100 participants from 47 countries discussed how Athlete365 Career+ can best help the transition from a sporting career into the wider workplace.
Athlete365 Business Accelerator was also launched in 2019. Through this programme, the result of an innovative partnership with the Yunus Sports Hub and funded by Olympic Solidarity, a free 10-hour expert-led online course on entrepreneurship was offered to athletes, with the opportunity to attend a workshop held in each continent to enhance the business skills. The first three workshops have already been held in the USA, New Zealand and Jordan.
Partnership with Airbnb
In November 2019, the IOC and Airbnb signed a nine-year and five-Games partnership to support the Olympic Movement until 2028.
The agreement included the Airbnb Olympian Experiences to provide direct earning opportunities for athletes. This new category will provide economic empowerment to athletes across the globe through hosting and dedicated support and training will be offered through the IOC Athlete365 platform.
Furthermore, the IOC will make at least USD 28 million worth of Airbnb accommodation available over the course of the partnership to athletes competing at the Olympic and Paralympic Games for competition and training-related travel.
More than 12,300 athletes and entourage members were engaged in person at 15 international competitions and continental Games last year, to explain the opportunities offered by the IOC to them in various areas. In total, 70,000 athletes and entourage members are registered on Athlete365, providing a unique opportunity for meaningful two-way communication between athletes and the IOC.
Last year, the IOC AC held five conference calls with the Global Network of Athletes’ Commission and consultations with athletes to discuss the most pressing athlete issues, including Rule 50, inclusion, non-discrimination based on gender identity, and anti-doping and the Russian WADA case.
IOC Athletes’ Commission election
During the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, athletes will elect a new IOC AC Chair along with four new members. Announced in December 2019, the full list of 30 candidates, representing 30 countries and 19 summer sports, is available here.
The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit independent international organisation made up of volunteers, which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of 3.4 million US dollars goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.
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