Olympic Council of Asia Athletes’ Forum unites Asia in pursuing ideas and ideals of the Olympic Movement

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Athletes’ Forum was hosted by the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) in Tokyo on 24-25 November 2018. Attended by over 100 participants including 79 athlete representatives from 44 National Olympic Committees (NOC), the forum gave athlete leaders the opportunity to learn about all the important topics relevant to athletes while also giving them the tools to upskill themselves as athlete representatives. Topics that were discussed included IOC and OCA AC strategies, Anti-Doping, Athlete365 programmes and even Tokyo2020. 

Keeping in line with the IOC Athletes’ Commission Strategy and in close collaboration with the Olympic Solidarity Commission, these forums, funded by Solidarity across all 5 continents, create a tangible link between the IOC Athletes’ Commission and the Continental Athletes’ Commission. 

In attendance were OCA Athletes’ Commission Chair Koji Murofushi and Vice Chair Tayyab Ikram who lead thought-provoking discussions amongst the participants. IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Kirsty Coventry, as well as IOC Athletes’ Commission members Seung Min Ryu, Nadin Dawani, Zhang Hong, were in attendance, too, alongside continental Athletes’ Commission Chairs Alexandra Orlando (PANAM), Amadou Dia Ba (ANOCA) and Barbara Kendall (ANOC). 

IOC President Thomas Bach addressed the forum and spoke about the Athletes Rights and Responsibilities Declaration and reiterated the importance of athlete representation in sport. 

These forums provide a strong and interactive platform to discuss challenges specific to that continent while also highlighting similar issues faced by athletes globally. Athlete leaders have the opportunity to voice their opinions and share them with the relevant sporting organisations. 

Being the first edition of the new style Athletes’ Forums in Asia, the objectives of the forum were 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
  • Understand the needs of Asian athletes and what support is currently available
  • Be confident and feel empowered to effectively run an Athletes’ Commission

The athletes also had the opportunity to learn about the Olympic Solidarity programme and the role it plays in the development of sports and athletes globally. They learnt about the increased support that’s being made available to them through the Olympic Solidarity World programme for their athletic needs and career transition. 

The Forum also applauded and supported the formation of the Athletes Rights and Responsibilities Declaration. This historic athlete-driven initiative has been developed by athletes for athletes through a worldwide consultation process. Led by a 20-strong athlete representative Steering Committee, it has been shaped by 4,292 elite athletes from 190 countries and more than 120 sports disciplines (including all Olympic and Paralympic sports disciplines). 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. 

Following the three days of discussions and participation, the Forum agreed to put forward the following 5 recommendations to the OCA and the IOC AC: 

  1. As per the IOC Guidelines
    • All NOCs from OCA 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.
    • The OCA Athletes’ Commission will review its composition and the process for the election of members to the Commission. It will seek to hold its elections at the next edition of the OCA Athletes’ Forum in 2020. Only NOCs with an active Athletes’ Commission will be able to put forward a candidate. 
    • 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.
  3. The IOC Athletes’ and Olympic Solidarity Commissions, as well as the OCA Athletes’ Commission, should also explore possibilities to provide further support for their AC activities.  
  4. OCA Athletes’ Commission and the Asian Athletes’ Commissions should work with the OCA and their respective NOCs to encourage them to adopt the Athletes’ Right and Responsibilities Declaration at both continental and national level.
  5. The OCA 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). In collaboration with their respective NOCs, the OCA NOC Athletes’ Commissions should lead the implementation of the Athlete Career Programme (Career+) at local level.

The Forum discussed the following topics either through a mixture of presentations or breakout sessions: 

  • IOC and OCA Athletes’ Commissions Strategies and introduction to athlete representation.
  • Resources available to athletes through IOC, Olympic Solidarity and OCA
  • Strengthening the Asian Athletes’ Commissions Network
  • Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration
  • Anti-doping (Japan Anti-doping Agency 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+ (Athlete Career Programme)
  • Tokyo2020 Communication and engagement strategy
  • Tokyo2020 Sport Programme
  • Tokyo2020 – Athletes at the heart of the Olympic Games