IOC Athletes’ Commission chair Angela Ruggiero looks ahead to PyeongChang 2018, and talks about the importance of seizing and protecting the special moment afforded to Olympians

Dear Athletes,

The Olympic Winter Games, the world’s biggest sporting stage, are nearly upon us, and I hope you’re as excited as we are at the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC). I would like to offer my congratulations to those already qualified and wish luck to those of you contesting the remaining places for the PyeongChang start line.

I’ve been lucky enough to participate in four Olympic Winter Games, and it really is different from any other event. The Games provide the platform for you to be a global citizen, and to participate – to learn about other people, to talk to them and become friends with them. Don’t underestimate the power of that, and the impact that will have on you personally.

Grasp the opportunity – all of it
A lot of athletes put their heads down and are focused, and don’t think about anything else – this is understandable, you want to do your best, it’s the   Olympic Games. But don’t let the moment fly by. Be present and look around the dining hall; go and see a new sport for the first time; trade a hat, scarf or pin with a fellow competitor.

These are the memories that make the Olympic experience special. Take advantage of what you’ve afforded yourself, and how hard you’ve worked to become an Olympian. Remember this is a rare opportunity for us to be in such a vibrant multi-sport environment – make the most of it!

Our duty
While I encourage you to seize the moment, I also wish to talk about how precious this moment is to us all, and how we must join together to protect it.

Despite recent attempts to tarnish this experience that we all cherish and work so hard towards, we are now making significant and continued progress in the fight against doping, thanks to the bravery of whistle-blowers – who are a key part in making the system stronger.

I would urge anyone with relevant information on protecting the integrity of sport, to report it confidentially to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) or the IOC’s Integrity and Compliance Hotline. Clean sport is a responsibility of everyone, and as a community we must be vigilant and protect what’s so precious to us: competing clean, and ensuring fair competition.

Shaping the future
Athletes are now fully integrated in to the decision-making process with representation on the IOC Executive Board and the same number of members  on the IOC Executive Bard as International Federations and National Olympic Committees do, and we should also recognise that with these positions comes a lot of responsibility. We really help shape the future of the Olympic Movement, and without those votes, the main constituent – the athlete – isn’t there.

In PyeongChang, all competiting athletes will have a vote and will be able to elect two new members to our commission – athletes who will also become full IOC Members. It takes  just a few minutes to register your vote in the IOC Athletes’ Commission Election, and to read and watch their videos to understand who the candidates are and what they want to achieve. They’ll represent you for the next eight years, and help you with any issues that you’re having on or off the field of play – so it’s vital that you empower yourself by voti

Come and see us!
For the first time ever, our commission has also put together a 30-minute ‘Get Ready’ video about what you can expect from the Games. Athletes always have questions for us, so this is a resource that can hopefully answer a lot of those, and our commission members are featured throughout it – so you’ll know the faces to look out for on the ground in PyeongChang!

We’ll be based at the Athlete365 Space, where you can not only vote in the IOC AC Election, but also find out about the IOC’s athlete-focused services that can support you both during and after your sporting career.

Finally, I wish all athletes and their entourage success in your competitions and a fantastic Olympic experience.

See you in PyeongChang!

Angela Ruggiero Signature

Angela Ruggiero

IOC AC Chair