Following the presentation of a new strategy to the IOC Executive Board on 10 July, IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Angela Ruggiero and Vice-Chair Tony Estanguet outline what the commission does for athletes, and how the implementation of the strategy will improve athlete representation and support athletes to succeed on and off the field of play.
What does the IOC Athletes’ Commission do for athletes?
Angela Ruggiero: Our mission is to represent athletes within the Olympic Movement and support them to succeed on and off the field of play. We’re not a union; we’re elected as a consultative body, but we have a lot of programmes and services, which the IOC Sports Department oversees. I’m also proud of our daily work, for example with the World Anti-Doping Agency, and with all of the IOC commissions. Whether it’s the Sustainability Commission or the Olympic Solidarity Commission, there’s always an athlete voice at the table – and I take pride of the effectiveness of the athletes doing that.
Why does the Olympic Movement need the IOC Athletes’ Commission?
Tony Estanguet: The decision-making process is not only for politicians or officials. As athletes, we need to share our own experiences, and give our views on what the future should be – whether it’s regarding new rules, new communication, or how to engage more fans. In all of these areas, athletes are legitimate voices and they know what they’re talking about. I don’t think that [athletes] should be the only ones to decide, but we have to be involved – and we have to be more involved – to make sure our views will be heard and taken into consideration.
What is the focus of the commission’s new strategy and what do you hope to achieve from it?
TE: The idea was that the strategy will be a continuity of what has been achieved [by the commission] in the past; it was not to start from zero. But we need to make sure that we strengthen the current situation, by having two main targets. The first side focuses on how we can have a more effective role for the athletes on and off the field of play; how we can build a network of athletes’ commissions that will better share information within International Federations and National Olympic Committees; and how we will engage more athletes in the Olympic Movement, to better support their needs. On the other side, it’s how we can promote within the Olympic Movement the value of athlete engagement to make sure that the viewpoints of athletes are carefully studied in the decision-making process.
How can the implementation of the strategy help the commission – and the Olympic Movement – to move forward in the long-term?
AR: One of the main goals of this strategy is visibility. All Olympic athletes should know exactly who we are and that we’re working on a daily basis, that we’re a resource for them, and that we’re bringing value to the Olympic Movement. [The strategy] is a five-year plan that will elevate the commission’s professional status and give us some real tangible goals, so that the commission has a roadmap for the work that needs to be done after my term has finished [at PyeongChang 2018]. That can obviously change and we have to be adaptable to what we’re hearing, but we will have a plan; in a similar way to an athlete, who has a goal of competing at the Olympic Games – and a plan of how to get there.