The IOC launched the first-ever Olympism in Action Forum on 5 October 2018, where IOC AC Chair and Steering Committee member Kirsty Coventry introduced the historic Athletes’ Declaration.

At the heart of the athlete-driven initiative has been a two-stage athlete survey, which will go on to support athlete needs and interests in the coming years.

Find out more about the process which led to its creation and what it could mean for your future as an athlete.

“Over the summer of 2018, an astonishing 4,292 of you (elite athletes) from 190 countries and more than 120 sports disciplines contributed to the creation of the Athletes’ Declaration. This is an amazing achievement and one which we can all be proud of,” commented Coventry following the announcement.

The process

Members of the Steering Committee have met almost monthly by video conference, juggling time zones to deliver the project. In addition to being athlete representatives within their respective sporting organisations, the Steering Committee members are highly accomplished athletes, having collectively competed at 44 Olympic or Paralympic Games, winning 37 medals, and 85 world championships, winning 61 medals.

An athlete-driven initiative, and part of the IOC Athletes’ Commission Strategy, it has been developed by athletes for athletes through a comprehensive and inclusive process in collaboration with stakeholders across the Olympic Movement. Its 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.

Covering topics such as anti-doping, integrity, clean sport, career, communications, governance, discrimination, due process and protection from harassment and abuse, the Athletes’ Declaration will be presented to the IOC Session for adoption and reference in the Olympic Charter, signifying its important status within the Olympic Movement.

An inclusive process

“I’m really excited to be part of the process that brings athletes the support and protection they deserve,” said Sarah Walker, a BMX cyclist from New Zealand, IOC Athletes’ Commission member and Chair of the Steering Committee for the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration.

A two-stage athlete survey has been at the core of this process. Firstly, with Athletes’ Commissions and athlete representatives to obtain in-depth and quality feedback from

athlete representatives globally. The results of this first survey shaped the first draft of the Declaration, as well as the second-stage survey. Additionally, and in parallel, there has been stakeholder consultation to ensure that the document is meaningful and has a positive impact for athletes globally.

Learn more about this exciting global journey and its inclusive consultation with athletes, from its initiation in early 2017 through to its various stages, here.

You shared – we listened

The extensive athlete survey examined all aspects of the draft document, incorporating 19 rights and 16 responsibilities, which was released for consultation at the end of May 2018. You shared what was most important to the athlete community, ensuring that your collective voices were fully represented in the process.

The survey asked athletes to indicate how important specific rights and responsibilities were to them as individuals, as well as inviting them to contribute further ideas. Organised around the five key themes of sports competition, integrity and clean sport, safeguarding, governance and communication, and career and marketing to address areas of most interest to athletes, all were ranked as at least “important” by more than 90 per cent of respondents.

Similarly, more than 90 per cent of athletes indicated that the five overarching responsibilities were important to uphold: to respect the rights of all athletes; to uphold the Olympic values; to promote sport as a role model; to respect the solidarity principle in sport; and to adhere to the Fundamental Principles of Olympism, namely Principles 4 and 6.

The results also reflect the significance of the initiative to athletes:

· 89% of participants said they would be likely to recommend that other athletes support the Athletes’ Declaration

· 75% would like to stay involved with the project

· 71% would like to be recognised as contributors to the Athletes’ Declaration

Respondent demographics were also well balanced:

· 50% male, 48% female and 2% preferred not to answer or indicated “other”

· 68% active athletes

· 61% aged between 18-34

Importantly, the strength and depth of this data means that, in addition to being collated to form the forthcoming Athletes’ Declaration, it will also be used in many other ways to support athlete needs and interests in the coming months and years, and to further strengthen services and communications to athletes.

The first version of the Athletes’ Declaration was formally presented by the Steering Committee for approval at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on 8-9 October 2018 and has been subsequently published on Athlete365.

I’M REALLY EXCITED TO BE PART OF THE PROCESS THAT BIRNGS ATHLETES THE SUPPORT AND PROTECTION THEY DESERVE.

 

SARAH WALKER

Find out more details about the Athletes’ Declaration.