Olympic bronze medal-winning shooter and IOC Athletes’ Commission member Danka Bartekova reveals how the commission is engaging with athletes around the world to ensure that their voices are heard

Slovakian shooter Danka Bartekova was elected to the IOC Athletes’ Commission at the Olympic Games London 2012, where she also won a bronze medal in the women’s skeet event. As chair of the commission’s communications working group, she is currently focusing her efforts on improving engagement with athletes around the world. Here, she explains how they are working towards that goal.

What are the key goals of the communications working group?

We really want to improve the communication between the IOC Athletes’ Commission and several target groups – with the most important being the athletes themselves.

We want to make sure that we are communicating all the information necessary from our side – such as what’s going on in the Olympic Movement, details of anti-doping cases, the tools that we can offer and all the news that’s most relevant to them. But also, we want the communication to be from both sides. So it’s not only about giving them the latest information and providing them with all the tools they need, but also we want to hear from them too. We want it to be a two-way conversation.

We’re also communicating with other athletes’ commissions within the Olympic family, such as those within International Federations (IFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs). We want to share the same information with them and support them to make sure that the athlete’s voice is heard throughout the Olympic Movement.

What are the main ways that the IOC Athletes’ Commission is hoping to engage with athletes?

The Olympic Athletes’ Hub is central for us. It’s our main tool for communicating with athletes on a daily basis and we want to use it not only to provide information, but also to build a community. We want it to be a virtual platform where athletes can find everything they need and we can provide them with the tools necessary to support them on and off the field of play. That means offering advice on topics such as nutrition and psychology, as well as issues like career transition, anti-doping, injury prevention, abuse in sport and so on. We want to bring athletes – and everything they need – all together in one place.

How do you plan to initiate that two-way conversation through the Hub?

Athletes have always been able to email us directly (athletes@olympic.org) and contact us via the Hub’s social media channels, but very soon we will also be launching a polling feature on the Hub website. This will allow us to run real-time surveys and collect feedback from the athletes about topics that are important to them.

Having that direct contact will help give us the basis for our work within the IOC Athletes’ Commission. We need to know what the athletes really require and what their feelings are about the sort of topics that we have to tackle.

We also want to make sure that the Hub is accessible to everyone, so we’ll be adding new languages to the site in the coming months as well. We’re always looking at ways we can improve the platform and make it as valuable as possible to athletes.

What other ways is the IOC Athletes’ Commission planning to engage with athletes?

In November, we will be holding the latest edition of the IOC International Athletes’ Forum, which is a great way for us to collect feedback from athletes representing IFs, NOCs, the World Olympians Association and the International Paralympic Committee. The forum helps us to design our roadmap for what we want to achieve.

And then during the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, we will also be running the Athlete365 Space within the Olympic Village. This is probably the most important way for us to communicate with the athletes, as the Games-time interaction allows us to not only collect feedback but also to make ourselves accessible to athletes so that they can approach us in a nice, comfortable and relaxing setting. It is obviously a great way for us to present important information, and all members of the commission will also be there during the Games so they are available to speak with the athletes should they have any questions or issues. It’s a vital opportunity for us to explain how we are working and to present ourselves to them so that they know whatever they need, they have their representatives and they have someone to talk to or ask a question.

It is so important that the athletes know that we are doing our best to support them and that there is a way for them to connect with us not only during the Games, but all all year-round, through platforms such as the Hub.