Excited, empowered and united after the first day at Athletes’ Forum

  • The first day of International Athletes’ Forum saw more than 350 athlete representatives gather in Lausanne
  • Key panel discussions focused on direct and indirect support to athletes, and the fight against doping
  • Day one also saw the launch of the Athlete365 Business Accelerator, a new three-step entrepreneur journey for athletes

“We want you to go back home feeling empowered, excited and united, with all the tools you need to be an effective athlete representative,” said IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) Vice-Chair Danka Bartekova, as she welcomed participants to the 9th International Athletes’ Forum.

In total, more than 350 athlete representatives from almost 200 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) arrived at the SwissTech Convention Centre in Lausanne for the first day of the Forum – the largest-ever gathering of its kind –which saw panel discussions on anti-doping and the IOC financial model, and the launch of the Athlete365 Business Accelerator.

‘Make your voices heard’

The audience was immediately given a healthy dose of inspiration from pioneering NASA astronaut Yvonne Cagle, who delivered a keynote speech comparing athletes to astronauts, claiming that both share a similar determination to “go after that transformative one per cent”.

British Olympian and accomplished broadcaster Jeanette Kwakye, in her role as moderator, then gave the floor to IOC President Thomas Bach – a founding member of the IOC AC – who expressed pride and emotion at seeing the creation of the Athletes’ Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities in 2018, and encouraged all participants to put their interests and ideas on the table to contribute to a lively debate.

“Sitting at the table not only with a voice but a vote is the strongest and most impactful representation anyone can have,” said President Bach.

Ongoing support to athletes

The morning session concentrated on direct and indirect support to athletes, with a presentation on the IOC’s funding and distribution model by IOC Finance Director Lana Haddad. She revealed that 90 per cent of the revenues from the Games goes straight back into sport and athlete development and that the IOC matches, dollar for dollar, the total contribution to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) from all governments worldwide.

“When we hosted the German athlete representatives at the IOC last year, the feedback that we got was that it really helped them to understand things, so I think it’s really important to be able to share the distribution model with athletes,” commented IOC AC chair Kirsty Coventry.

The increased direct support now available to athletes was underlined by the exclusive Forum announcement about the launch of the Athlete365 Business Accelerator. This three-stage entrepreneur journey delivered in partnership with the Yunus Sports Hub and funded by Olympic Solidarity aims to help you spark your inner entrepreneur by completing an interactive online course and attending an expert-led workshop. To find out more about this exciting opportunity, click here.

Athletes share views on the fight against doping

The afternoon began with focused breakout sessions aimed at empowering ACs from NOCs, IFs, Continental Associations and Organising Committees to become more effective, before a lively and fascinating panel discussion on anti-doping. The panel consisted of representatives from WADA, the IOC, the International Testing Agency and the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with questions raised about inconsistencies in testing across different countries, what WADA would do granted more funding, and to whom an athlete turns to in the event of a false positive test. WADA’s Stuart Kemp also provided updates on the ADAMS system, including full digitisation of the doping control process.

To recap on the morning session on direct and indirect support to athletes, and the afternoon session on the fight against doping, click here. Day two will feature a practical update on the Athletes’ Declaration and panel discussions on key topics such as athlete mental health and the changing landscape of sport, while there will also be a Q&A with President Bach.