Athletes: The heart of the Games
After seven years of preparation and planning, the London 2012 Olympic Games are underway and the world’s greatest athletes have finally taken centre stage. Here, Olympic.org talks to Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Sports Director.
Q. How does the IOC ensure that the athletes have the best possible conditions to compete in at the Games?
A. We have an Athletes’ Commission, which is really important, and it has a representative in the IOC Executive Board. The Athletes’ Commission looks after all aspects concerning the athletes, including the conditions at Games time. It has a broad mandate including verifying that the conditions will be met for the athletes. The Athletes’ Commission also has a representative in the Coordination Commission for each Olympic Games. So every time we had a visit to London, there was a working group dedicated to athletes, so anything pertaining to athletes was discussed on each and every occasion.
Q. What programmes for the athletes will the IOC be running during the Games?
A. We have an election of four members to the Athletes’ Commission at each edition of the Summer Games and two members at each Winter Games. We are in charge of operating the election at Games time, which is quite a big operation. For the first time in London, we will have electronic voting, which is quite exciting. We will have tablets featuring videos of each of the candidates, which the athletes can watch before they register their vote electronically.
In the village during the Games, we also promote the other programmes that we offer to the athletes. The most prominent one is the Athletes Career Programme, which we run with Adecco.
The objective here is to provide guidance and assistance to athletes so they understand that a career is more than just sporting achievement; it starts with education, life skills and then the transition from an athletic career to the job market.
It is quite a big operation at Games time because this is where we have a captive audience right in front of us, so it is an opportunity for us to reach them.
Q. How would you describe LOCOG’s approach to putting the athletes at the centre of the Games?
A. It’s been superb. They have an athletes’ commission, chaired by Jonathan Edwards, who has been with LOCOG since the bidding stage. They have looked into everything possible to make sure the athletes have a great experience. From the Village setup and the services within the village, ensuring everything is as convenient as possible, to the training venues. The athletes spend a lot of time in the training venues, so they have to be of the highest standard. It is fantastic what they’ve done.
Sometimes the ticketing for family members has been an issue at previous Games, but LOCOG have developed a procedure where athletes can access tickets for their friends and families, which is extraordinary.
Then what they’ve done in the athletes’ lounge in the Village is really fun and everything they’ve prepared for the sporting events during the Games is designed to create a great atmosphere in the venues, meaning the athletes will benefit from fantastic crowds.