Power of athlete representation shines through destruction in Yemen  

The Yemen Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission provides an inspirational case study for organising athlete representation in the face of difficult circumstances and limited funding.  

  • The Yemen NOC Athletes’ Commission was due to hold its fourth round of elections in 2016. 
  • With the country ravaged by civil war and the NOC’s headquarters destroyed, the elections had to be postponed. 
  • At the beginning of 2020, with a new set of statutes and a renewed sense of optimism, a new group of members were elected to the Athletes’ Commission for a four-year term. 

The Athletes’ Commission has played an important role in the Yemen NOC since it was first elected in 2003, providing Yemeni athletes with a vital platform through which to express opinions and communicate effectively with their sports’ governing bodies. 

After subsequent elections were held in 2007 and 2012, the fourth cycle of AC elections had been due to start at the beginning of 2016. The situation in Yemen at that time, however, had become highly uncertain. Yemen has been devastated by a civil war since late 2014 – one that continues to rage in parts of the country to this day. The consequences of the war have left many in Yemen in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, with safe access to food and clean water a significant issue and much of the usual flow of daily life interrupted. Understandably in the context of the conflict, the AC elections were delayed.  

Rays of hope began to appear in 2019, as a ceasefire allowed the situation in Yemen to improve. That said, the NOC’s headquarters had been destroyed in the conflict, and with it all of the AC’s documents – including its statutes. A team was put together to prepare a new set of statutes, which were then presented to the country’s National Federations in mid-December. Just before Christmas, the Yemen NOC organised a meeting of 80 athletes from across various sports to discuss the new statutes and their approval.  

With the approval granted, the NOC moved quickly to start the nominations process for the new AC at the beginning of 2020. After two weeks of campaigning, the fourth Yemen AC elections were finally held on 18 January, at a meeting of 37 athlete representatives. 

Judoka Ali Khousrof was elected President, with shooter Amal Mudhish elected as Secretary General. “The NOC made huge efforts to organise the elections, considering the conflict and difficult situation in Yemen. This is a step that brings hope,” said Khousrof. “My goal is to educate athletes in several fields – doping, nutrition and injury management – and make their voices heard. I will do my best to help them. 

Also elected to the AC were Arwa Tareq Al-Yas (Judo), Saleh Ahmed Al-Radaie (Karate), Munir Ahmed Al-Thubhani (Table Tennis)Hend Abdullah Sharaf-Addin (Archery) and Mohammed Ghaleb Al-Qarnas (Boxing). The new AC members will be in place until 2024. 

NOC Athletes’ Commissions can now apply to Olympic Solidarity for an annual grant worth up to USD 10,000. To find out more, click here