International Olympic Committee (IOC) members play an important behind-the-scenes role for the benefit of athletes and other stakeholders at the Olympic Games. The IOC Delegate Member Games Observer Programme seeks to ensure that the needs of athletes are fully met at the competition venues, the Olympic Village and all other relevant facilities and services. Many of the IOC members who participate in the programme have a keen appreciation for the needs of athletes because of their own experience as Olympians. IOC member Anton Geesink of the Netherlands, a gold medallist in judo at the 1964 Tokyo Games, oversees the programme.
Olympic.org: How do the IOC observers function at the Games?
Anton Geesink: IOC members are assigned to specific venues and sport disciplines, depending on their expertise and interest. They report their findings on a daily basis so that any problems can be quickly addressed. Our standards at the competition venues are high — perfection. Of course, that is hard to achieve, but that is what we look for.
Olympic.org: The Olympic Villages in Vancouver and Whistler have received a lot of praise. What makes a good Olympic Village?
Anton Geesink: The Olympic Village is a critical element of the athletes’ experience. Most Olympians treasure the chance to meet and talk with fellow athletes from around the world and consider it one of the highlights of the Games. Above all, the Village should feel like a home from the moment an athlete arrives. Olympic athletes are under a lot of pressure. They need a place where they can relax in peace. The size of the room is not nearly as important as creating a home-like atmosphere.
Olympic.org: What is your early assessment of the Vancouver Games?
Anton Geesink: All the reports so far are good. The organisers have worked hard to deliver top-quality Games, and it shows. The IOC observers have found no significant problems. Of course, we will keep looking for issues that should be addressed. This is our chance to give something back to the athletes who make the Games such a splendid event.