IOC welcomes German athletes to discuss solidarity funding model for Olympic Games
At the invitation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), German athlete representatives were in Lausanne today to discuss the IOC’s solidarity model for funding the Olympic Games and the athletes. Taking part were the elected representative and Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, Kirsty Coventry; the IOC Director General, Christophe De Kepper; IOC Directors Kit McConnell and Lana Haddad; and the IOC President, Thomas Bach. From the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), President Alfons Hörmann and CEO Veronika Rücker attended.
The main topics discussed were as follows:
1. The IOC solidarity model was discussed at length: Solidarity is a core principle of the Olympic Games, to support all athletes from all countries, big or small, and from all sports, so as to give everyone an equal opportunity. It was highlighted that the IOC generates and distributes 90 per cent of its revenue via this solidarity model to support the staging of the Olympic Games, including the Organising Committees of the Olympic Games (OCOGs); the Olympic Movement stakeholders (206 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and 40 International Federations (IFs)); sports development; promotion of the Olympic Movement; engagement with young people; and the protection of clean athletes. This solidarity model makes universal participation at the Olympic Games possible, creating more equality among participating NOCs, and more equality for participating athletes and their sports.
It was explained that the IOC’s solidarity model is not profit-oriented but a values-based model. If it were a profit-oriented model, it would for instance not be possible to have all the current Olympic sports as part of the Olympic programme. The same holds true for the athletes’ participation. If it were profit-oriented, the IOC could not support all the 206 NOCs and their athletes, and not all sports.
With regard to the support the IOC gives to athletes, it was explained that athletes’ support takes very different forms in all NOCs. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. For this reason, in addition to the support provided directly by the IOC through various programmes, the IOC also provides funding to the NOCs, leaving it to each individual NOC to customise its support to athletes according to local needs. Each individual NOC decides how to make the best use of the IOC funding. This support takes different forms in different NOCs, ranging from prize money to funding athletes in the time between Olympic Games, investing in sports infrastructure, coaching programmes and many more.
The IOC also contributes substantially to the fight against doping. Fifty per cent of the costs of WADA are covered by the Olympic Movement. And it is estimated that the sports movement contributes close to 300 million dollars annually towards the global anti-doping effort.
With regard to support provided to the IFs, it was pointed out that the IOC contribution helps the IFs to develop their respective sports and keep them functioning and relevant in the time between the Olympic Games. Support for the OCOGs is what makes the Games possible at all, and gives athletes the best possible conditions and a global stage on which to perform. Athletes and officials also benefit from IOC support through free travel, accommodation, medical services and more during the Games.
At the end of the day, the IOC can spend this money – the 90 per cent of its revenues which goes to supporting sport and the athletes – only once. It is up to each NOC and IF, in consultation with their athlete commissions, to decide how best to support the athletes, in accordance with the specific needs of the respective country and respective sport.
Ultimately, the distribution of this IOC funding must be left to each NOC to use in different ways. For example, some pay prize money, others do not. In Germany, the DOSB ensures that Team Deutschland and its athletes have the best conditions in preparation for and during the Olympic Games. Every athlete benefits from such efforts and the strength of the Team Deutschland brand. The German House as the home of Team Deutschland, as well as many other events such as the welcome ceremony, are funded by the DOSB, too. The financial resources are also used to fund the High Performance Department of the DOSB, which works to provide the best framework for elite sport in Germany in cooperation with the National Federations, 52 weeks a year.
2. Athlete representation in the Olympic Movement: Olympic athletes are in the unique position of electing their own representatives and having an elected representative on the 15-member IOC Executive Board. The Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, Kirsty Coventry, announced that an Athlete Rights and Responsibilities Declaration is currently under preparation.
The IOC is in regular contact with athletes’ representatives from around the world and has an ongoing dialogue. One of the regular calls with elected athlete representatives took place last week. Many of the athletes’ representatives were also present at a specially organised meeting in the Athletes’ Village at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang to discuss this issue, although unfortunately the German athlete representatives did not attend. The IOC President regularly meets athletes and their representatives - this month at the Asian Games and also at the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships and the FISA World Rowing Championships in Bulgaria.
After the meeting, IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) Chair Kirsty Coventry commented:
“This was a valuable meeting, and everyone agreed on the fundamental need to support athletes. In my position of Chair of the IOC AC it is important for me to continue to have these constructive discussions and hear the views of athletes globally. There will always be differing opinions on the best way to support athletes, depending on the needs of that country. Funding should continue to go to the athletes in the most effective manner possible. A finance structure should ensure fairness and universality, particularly to help the majority of athletes from smaller and less well funded National Olympic Committees. This is why the IOC uses Olympic Solidarity to distribute funds in a fair manner to athletes, whatever part of the world they are from and whatever the sport they practise.”