Following the successful organisation of Athletes’ Seminar in Brussels, in 2013 and 2016, the EOC EU Office, in collaboration with the IOC, organised on 11 and 12 March once again an Athletes seminar to discuss topics of most relevance to them. Finally, 19 European athletes’ representatives from the EOC, IOC, WADA, IF and NOC Athletes’ Commissions (ACs) met at the EOC EU Office.
In their introductory speeches Kaveh Mehrabi (IOC), Folker Hellmund (EOC EU Office) and the chair of the EOC Athletes Commission, Gerd Kanter underlined the importance to establish a more regular exchange of views between athletes and sport organisations. The first session focused on practical suggestions to better organise and coordinate the work of the different ACs. In this regard, enhancing the effectiveness of the work of ACs as well as the Communication between ACs and also with other stakeholders, was discussed by the participants.
The athletes started the day by discussing all positive achievements that took place in the past few years to improve the expertise of ACs as well as to make their voice count in the decision making of sport organisations. In this regard, the IOC stressed its permanent availability to provide legal advices and support to all ACs as well as the ongoing initiatives, notably at ANOC level, to encourage continental organisation to further support the work of ACs. All participants agreed that the Athletes’ declaration, adopted by the IOC in October 2018, will also contribute to increase the commitment of sport organisations towards their ACs.
Then, participants exchanges good practices on solutions to answer their daily challenges with the management of the work of the ACs. The necessity to receive support from professional staff members, to establish a clear strategy at the beginning of the term or to identify individuals within the board or among the staff with an interest for Athletes’ activities were notably mentioned.
Some solutions to increase the expertise and involvement of members in the ACs work were also explored, including a pre-selection of the candidates based on expertise and availability. Another idea was, to better divide tasks in order to empower members with specific responsibilities or the involvement of athletes that are not AC members in some meetings to encourage them to take an active role in the future.
During the second session, topics such as the European Sport Model, EU Competition Policy, Dual Careers of Athletes or the possibilities offered by the Erasmus+ programme were also presented and discussed with the athletes during a session dedicated to European Union. Participants also exchanged on the representation of ACs at EU level, stressing the need get more AC members involved in meetings, seminars or hearings organised by the EU, the Council of Europe or other relevant organisers.
Finally, the second day gave the opportunity for athletes’ representatives to hold interesting discussions and debates on several topics such as the Olympic Movement Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration, the fight against doping, the role of the IOC in Athletes’ support and the application of the Rule 40 of the Olympic Charter.
The EOC EU Office would like to thank all participants for their fruitful contributions as well as the IOC (Kaveh Mehrabi, Karen Dolphin, Daniel Marchi) and Jan Paterson for the excellent cooperation.