The 2nd Athletes’ Forum of the Americas, hosted in Miami between 26th – 28th October, and attended by over 100 participants with 75 athlete representatives from 41 countries, was successful in engaging and creating conversations around PanAmerican athletes and their needs and suggestions that will help them today. 

The majority of the athlete leaders attending the Forum were representing the NOCs of the Americas. Also in attendance was Danka Bartekova, the Vice Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, as well as IPC Athlete Council member, Monica Bascio, World Olympians Association Secretary General, Anthony Ledgard, WADA Athlete Committee member Lauryn Williams, Ileana Rodriguez, Americas Paralympic Committee Athlete representative, Amadou Dia Ba Chair of the ANOCA Athletes’ Commission, and Anolyn Lulu, ONOC Athletes’ Commission representative.

Keeping to the IOC Athletes’ Commission strategy and working closely with the Olympic Solidarity Commission, this forum created a very tangible link between the IOC Athletes’ Commission and the Continental Athletes’ Commission while also providing an open and interactive platform for athletes to discuss challenges specific to the continent while also highlighting topics that are relevant to athletes globally. 

The objectives of the forum was for participants to be informed about the Olympic Movement and resources available to them, find ways to communicate effectively with each other as a network, to understand the needs of Pan American athletes, feel empowered to effectively run an Athletes’ Commission and create recommendations to enhance the Pan American Games.

Driven by passionate and thoughtful discussions by Panam Sports Athletes’ Commission Chair, Alexandra Orlando, and Panam Sports Athletes’ Commission members, Andrea Estrada, Aliann Pompey and Carlos Santiago, the participants of the forum seek to improve the effectiveness of athlete representation in the region as well as identify the needs of athletes at every stage of their career. 

The importance of having access to information, effective communication and close collaboration between NOCs, Panam Sports, ANOC, WADA and IOC Athletes’ Commissions was highlighted and supported by all participants. The participants also learnt of the development of sports and athletes through the Olympic Solidarity World and Continental programmes for their sporting and non-sporting careers.

The programme included a mixture of presentations and breakout sessions which covered the following topics:

  • IOC and Panam Athletes’ Commissions Strategies and introduction to athlete representation
  • Resources available to athletes through IOC, Olympic Solidarity and Panam Sports
  • Strengthening the Americas Athletes’ Commissions Network
  • Anti-doping (WADA outreach, education and whistleblowing programme) as well as the International Testing Agency)
  • Prevention of Competition Manipulation and Match Fixing
  • Prevention of Harassment and Abuse in Sport
  • World Olympians Association
  • Athlete365 and Career+
  • Marketing and Sponsorship from the Wasserman Group
  • Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration

Following the presentation of the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration (Athletes’ Declaration), the participants fully supported the formation of this historic athlete-driven initiative. The Athletes’ Declaration has been developed by athletes and for athletes through a worldwide consultation process, led by a 20-strong athlete representative Steering Committee. Being shaped by feedback from 4,292 elite athletes from 190 countries and more than 120 sports disciplines, the Athletes’ Declaration’s overarching goal is to further support athletes — no matter their sport, age, gender or nationality, by outlining a common set of aspirational rights and responsibilities for athletes within the Olympic Movement.

Participants also discussed how the overall athletes’ experience at the Panam Games can be enhanced and shared concrete suggestions and ideas for Panam Sports to evaluate and implement.

On the final day of the forum, Carlos Santiago, Panam Sports Athletes’ Commission member and Athlete Career Programme (Career+) trainer gave an overview of the Career+ programme, with a teaser session for the participants and also shared what resources are available for athletes during their career transition.

Following three days of productive and constructive discussion, the participants of the forum agreed on the following recommendations to be put forward to Panam Sports and the IOC Athletes’ Commission:

  1. As per the IOC Guidelines
    1. All NOCs from the Americas must have an active Athletes’ Commission in place before the end of 2020 and ensure the representative of the Athletes’ Commission has a seat and full voting rights on the NOC Executive Board.
    2. The Athletes’ Commission of the Americas will hold its elections at the next edition of the Panam Games, Lima 2019. Only NOCs with an active Athletes’ Commission will be able to put forward a candidate.
    3. Strengthen effective communication among different Athletes’ Commissions with relevant stakeholders and directly to athletes.
  2. NOCs should enhance their administrative and financial support for the activities and the daily operation of their Athletes’ Commissions. The IOC Athletes’ and Olympic Solidarity Commissions, as well as the Panam Athletes’ Commission, should also explore possibilities to provide further support in this area.  
  3. Panam Sports Athletes’ Commission and the Americas Athletes’ Commissions should work with Panam Sports and their respective NOCs to encourage them to adopt the Athletes’ Right and Responsibilities Declaration at both continental and national level.
  4. The Americas NOC Athletes’ Commissions should proactively engage with their respective NOCs to benefit from all programmes available to them by the IOC (including Olympic Solidarity and Athlete365) and Panam Sports.
  5. In collaboration with their respective NOCs, the Americas NOC Athletes’ Commissions should lead the implementation of the Athlete Career Programme (Career+) at a local level.
  6. Panam Sports should support the attendance and facilitate the activation programme of the Panam Athletes’ Commission at the Panam Games and other regional Games within Americas.
  7. Panam Sports to evaluate the possibility of having athletes’ personal coaches at the training and competition venues at the Panam Games.

These recommendations will be communicated to the Panam Sports Executive Board for their consideration and eventual implementation.