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08 October 2009 - News

Giving the Public a Voice

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Virtual Winners ©IOC/Arnaud Meylan

For the first time in the history of Olympic Congresses, the general public was given the opportunity to have their say on the topics that were discussed at the XIII Olympic Congress in Copenhagen from 3 to 5 October.

Virtual Olympic Congress

Via the “Virtual Olympic Congress”, a dedicated website, over 1,700 people from 90 countries submitted their thoughts on the five themes of the Congress following the “Call for Contributions” launched two years ago. The website was designed to accept written contributions on the themes of the Congress in the form of a written contribution of 1,000 words or less.

One hundred contributions from the general public were chosen by the Congress Editorial Committee for inclusion in the official Congress book, and 20 of those contributors were invited to Copenhagen to attend the Congress. Ten men and ten women from 15 countries around the world spent three days in the Danish capital along with the members of the Olympic family.

Voicing Opinions

The winners attended the plenary sessions of the Congress as well as the break-out discussion sessions, which allowed in-depth discussions and debates on the different topics of the Congress (see programme here).

Geoff Kohe, a PhD student at the university of Otago in New Zealand, attended the session on the sub-theme entitled “Relationship between the athletes, the clubs, federations and the NOCs”. “Healthy relationships are a crucial component to the future of the Olympic Movement,” he said. “It is clear that there is no unique solution for all athletes and all NOCs. However, there are many commonalities that are shared within and across Olympic family members. All those who voiced an opinion at the session seemed to share the same desire to keep athletes as the heart and focus of the sport system.”

Alejandra Ortiz of Mexico commented on the discussion on the Olympic values. “The IOC needs to reconsider its values and to adapt them to a new reality and dialogue with the youth through more informal channels,” she said.

“My experiences at the Congress have been both exciting and educational,” said Edward Kent of Australia.  “Being involved in it has made me appreciate the rare opportunity that I and my fellow contest winners have been given. I feel it is a vital tool for discussions and decision-making from the luminaries of the field of sport and, as such, it allows the Olympic Movement to keep a tight focus on what is important: youth and the athletes, many of whom are youths.”

Discovering Copenhagen


In addition to a busy schedule of events at the Olympic Congress, the 20 visitors also enjoyed a full social agenda during their three–day stay, which included a production of West Side Story at Copenhagen’s Opera House, a canal tour and a reception held at the City Hall.

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