Athletes engaging with #SafeSport at the YOG
Over the next two weeks, the world’s most exciting young sports stars will be wowing audiences with their performances at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Buenos Aires. But as well as having the chance to perform on a global stage, off the field athletes are also learning about some of the most important issues in sport through the Athlete Education Programme.
The concept of safe sport is one of those issues, and the IOC is committed to ensuring that athletes at all levels are aware of the different forms that harassment and abuse in sport can take, how to prevent it and what they should do if they witness or have been affected by it.
As part of that mission, many of the 4,000 athletes at the YOG have already visited the #SafeSport booth in the Athlete365 Space, located in the heart of the Youth Olympic Village. The booth is available to athletes for 12 hours a day and will be open right up until the end of the YOG, underlining the importance that the IOC is placing on the subject.
A range of activities are on offer, including a scenario-based game about dangerous situations to look out for, which is available to play on tablets in English, French, Spanish or Russian, and scenario cards to invite interactive discussions between athletes. A giant Connect 4 set and a colouring wall add to the positive, relaxed and comfortable atmosphere in the booth, while athletes will also be able to take away goodies including sunglasses, pins and a “pledge” photograph displaying their shared commitment to protecting themselves and each other from harassment and abuse.
Anna Lucia Rodrigues Martins, a 16-year-old diver from Brazil, said: “I didn’t know or recognise with some situations that it was abuse or bullying, as it can be very delicate and the lines are very blurry, but playing the game helped me realise. It’s important we learn this when we’re starting out.”
I didn’t know or recognise with some situations that it was abuse or bullying, as it can be very delicate and the lines are very blurry, but playing the game helped me realise. It’s important we learn this when we’re starting outAnna Lucia Rodrigues Martins
The booth is being run by a group of safeguarding experts, including inspirational survivors of abuse in sport, members of the Buenos Aires 2018 volunteer team and a number of Athlete Role Models, who are on hand to offer advice and guidance from an athlete perspective. The team is led by the IOC Safeguarding Officer, Susan Greinig, who highlighted the importance of the new Youth Olympic Games Framework for Safeguarding Athletes, which is being implemented in Buenos Aires for the first time. The IOC has circulated the Framework to all National Olympic Committees and summer International Federations to help ensure that athletes arrive aware and engaged.
“This is the fifth YOG in which I’ve led a booth on safe sport, and I have seen a definite evolution,” she said.
“The athletes at Buenos Aires 2018 are the same age [as the athletes at previous editions of the YOG], but they seem to have much more awareness and they ask questions, which shows that they’re really engaged in helping to protect each other against harassment and abuse. It’s very, very encouraging.”
The activities will also have an impact beyond the YOG. The young athletes are being asked to fill in a survey after visiting the space to gauge their level of understanding on issues relating to safe sport, with the results set to be analysed by Tine Vertommen, a research professional in this area, to shape future IOC policy on safeguarding.
Go to the IOC’s Safeguarding Toolkit on Athlete365 to access a number of resources related to safe sport, and to report incidents anonymously online.