Athletes at the heart of the sports movement
The 4th International Athletes’ Forum once again underlined the role and place of the athlete within the Olympic and sports movement, both nationally and internationally. At the end of May, the Moroccan city of Marrakech hosted almost 100 athletes from five continents, representatives of the International Federations (IFs) of Olympic sports and the five Continental Associations of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs). After three days of discussions, a series of recommendations were adopted on the three themes of the Forum: relationship between the athletes, clubs, federations and NOCs; health protection in training and competition; and the social and professional life of athletes during and after elite competition. These recommendations will be presented at the Olympic Congress in Copenhagen in October. The Forum is held every two years by the IOC Athletes’ Commission, whose Chairman is four-time Olympic silver medallist and world champion, Frank Fredericks.
Promoting athlete participation
During the Forum, the participants unanimously agreed that all the members of the sports movement – clubs, national and International Federations and NOCs – have an important role and responsibilities vis-à-vis the athletes and vice-versa. The athletes thus have a central role to play in raising the profile of sport and recreation across communities. For their part, the sports organisations must ensure that all athletes can compete on a level playing field. The Forum also encouraged sports organisations to strengthen their athletes’ commissions, or if necessary create one, so that the athletes can make their views heard and ensure that the information provided is accessible to all.
Athlete health: prevention, education and information
Athlete health during training and competition is an issue which spans the areas of education, information, treatment, prevention and anti-doping. For this reason, the Forum called on the IOC to implement educational programmes on health protection and injury prevention at the Olympic Games and Youth Olympic Games, and to encourage the NOCs and IFs to do the same. As for the IFs’ technical decisions, in particular relating to competition schedules and rule changes, these should be taken in consultation with the IFs’ respective Athletes’ and Medical Commission representatives.
Sport and education: a vital combination
On the key issue of the social and professional life of athletes during and after elite competition, the participants agreed to remind the various Olympic Movement constituents – athletes and sports organisations – of the need to understand the importance of combining education and sport (“dual career”), and thus to recognise and endorse the importance of life skills. To achieve this, they proposed the introduction of programmes to provide emotional support and management during the transition period and to create partnerships with sponsors to contribute to life projects, and not only sports performance.