Under the theme Olympians for Life, 150 participants from 107 National Olympians Associations (NOAs) attended the World Olympians Association (WOA)’s World Olympians Forum (WOF) from 15 to 17 April, which highlighted the importance of Olympians as ambassadors at the heart of the Olympic Movement.
25 Olympic medallists, 13 gold medallists and 10 flag bearers were among the group that took part in the WOF and were involved in workshops, plenary sessions and a Grants Challenge. The Forum is aimed at building the capacity and capabilities of the NOA leaders, to increase their effectiveness in being able to deliver projects which serve Olympians and their communities.
Based on the feedback the WOA collected in advance from the attendees, the Forum focused on key areas such as strengthening the capabilities of NOAs, celebrating Olympians and stressing their crucial role as representatives of the Olympic ideals.
WOA President Joël Bouzou commented: “It was great to see so many elected Olympian representatives all together in one room to build their skill base, share best practices and cement their relationships. I am sure they will be more equipped to carry the flame in society as well, serving Olympians in their respective countries and projects that use sport to benefit their local communities and spread the values of the Olympic Movement.”
Joint day with the International Athletes’ Forum
On 15 April, prior to the WOF, all the WOF attendees joined a day of discussions, workshops and networking with participants from the 9th International Athletes’ Forum, which ran from 13 to 15 April.
The joint day brought together nearly 500 athlete and Olympian representatives from across the Olympic Movement to build a unified and effective network for future cooperation. This joint day was part of a wider strategic initiative between the WOA and the IOC Athletes’ Commission to work in partnership on Olympian and athlete welfare, development and engagement, to ensure continuous support to athletes and Olympians at all stages of their lives.
The participants were welcomed by IOC President Thomas Bach, an Olympic champion in fencing. He also attended a Q&A Session during the Forum. President Bach told the participants: “Congratulations to WOA for this successful Forum. The IOC offers continuous support to Olympians throughout their journey at all stages of their life. Olympians are valuable and valued ambassadors of the Olympic Movement.” He also encouraged Olympians to take on responsibility in sports organisations at all levels, and to engage.
National Olympians Association Guide
During the WOF, a comprehensive NOA Guide was launched with the aim of strengthening the capacity of NOAs by empowering them to develop capabilities in key areas such as communications, project management and leadership, to better serve the needs of Olympians and their communities.
This guide will be an additional tool for the NOAs to activate and support the IOC, WOA and NOC programmes at a national level. A specific workshop on how to implement it was given at the WOF, and NOAs will receive ongoing support from the WOA to activate and implement the Guide on a continuous basis.
The Guide is composed of six sections: Member Engagement, Branding, Project Delivery, Leadership and Governance, Finance Management and Stakeholder Relations.
2019 WOA Grants Programme
Each year, the WOA Grants Programme distributes funding to help NOAs run projects that benefit Olympians and the good work they are doing to support their local communities.
The 2019 WOA Grants Programme was launched today at the WOF, and included a Grants Challenge where additional funding was distributed. Five NOAs were invited to pitch a project idea to an expert jury and fellow Olympians, and two of them were selected, each earning a USD 5,000 grant. One of the winning projects comes from Colombia, and is an Olympian-led mentoring programme that will support the empowerment of women in sport and in their communities. The other one is from Lithuania, and this will see Olympians promote, activate and diversify the lives of the elderly, orphans and people with disabilities through sport and physical activity.