Ole Einar Bjørndalen from Norway (biathlon) and Hayley Wickenheiser from Canada (ice hockey) have been elected to the Athletes’ Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by their peers at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games for a term of approximately eight years.
A new Olympic record was set by the Sochi athletes after 80.87 per cent of them made their way to the voting booths to cast their votes.
IOC President Thomas Bach said: “As one of the founding members of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, I very much appreciate the high participation in the vote. It shows the value that athletes place on being part of the decision-making process and helping to shape the future of the Olympic Movement.”
The announcement was made today at the Coastal Olympic Village by IOC Executive Board members Claudia Bokel (also Chairwoman of the IOC Athletes’ Commission) and Anita L. DeFrantz (also Chairwoman of the Election Committee). The election was held over the past 21 days in the three Olympic Villages located in the coastal and the mountain clusters.
Bjørndalen was elected with 1,087 votes, followed by Wickenheiser with 758. The two new members will replace Rebecca Scott and Saku Koivu, who were elected to the Athletes’ Commission at the Turin Games in 2006 for a term of eight years each.
Claudia Bokel said after the announcement: “The athletes are at the heart of the Olympic Games, and our Commission is their voice in all decisions taken by the IOC. During the Games, our Commission members listen to the athletes’ concerns and opinions in all three Olympic Villages.” She added: “We also aim to offer them the best support possible outside the Games, for instance when it comes to questions of career transition with tools like the Athlete Career Programme and the newly launched MOOC. I am sure that our two new colleagues will make an important contribution to our work.”
On 23 February, Bjørndalen and Wickenheiser will be proposed to the IOC Session for IOC membership. Pending approval, they will then be officially introduced at the Closing Ceremony of the Sochi Games on 23 February.
Some 2,871 athletes were eligible to vote and had nine candidates from the same number of countries to choose from. Votes needed to be cast for two different athletes from two different sports. The candidates had to be presented by their National Olympic Committees, which were required to have their own Athletes’ Commission to select the candidate. In order to be eligible, the candidates had to be 18 years or older on 23 February 2014, have participated either in the Olympic Games in Vancouver in 2010 or in Sochi in 2014, and have never been found guilty of a doping offence during their sports career.
Biographies of all the candidates can be found here.
The IOC Athletes’ Commission is currently comprised of 22 members who are past or active Olympians. They are the voice of the athletes within the Olympic Movement and are tasked with defending their interests. As the link between the athletes and the IOC, the Commission members are involved in many key IOC activities, including the process to evaluate candidate cities seeking to host the Olympic Games, the composition of the sports programme for the Games and the fight against doping.
The Athletes’ Commission also oversees the IOC Athlete Career Programme, established in 2005, to facilitate education as well as job opportunities for athletes during and after their sporting careers. The Commission’s chairperson, a position currently held by Claudia Bokel, also sits on the IOC Executive Board.
Learn more about the IOC Athletes’ Commission here.
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