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Athletes discuss the future of the Olympic Movement in Lausanne

Forrester Osei, the Chair of the IWF Athletes Commission (AC) was the representative of our International Federation in the 11th International Athletes’ Forum (IAF) that gathered this week in Lausanne (SUI) more than 400 athlete representatives to discuss a series of matters across the Olympic Movement. 

AC members from 181 National Olympic Committees (NOC), 54 International Federations (IF), the World Anti-Doping Agency, the International Paralympic Committee, Organising Committees for the upcoming Olympic Games and Continental Associations, as well as members of the Athletes’ Declaration Steering Committee and representatives from the World Olympians Association, were present in the Olympic capital.

During the two-day Forum, discussions among participants focused on three main areas:

  1. Olympic Games-related initiatives:
  • “Road to Paris” Pilot Project – an initiative giving more flexibility to sporting good brands to promote their sponsored athletes in the run-up to and at the Paris Games.
  • Social Media Guidelines – innovative opportunities for athletes during Games time to raise their profile by sharing their Olympic journey with their fans. The guidelines will be released in the next few weeks.
  • Professional experience for athlete representatives – NOCs were encouraged to have the Chair or a member of their AC as part of their delegation to support them during the Games, learn about the work of other NOCs, and benefit from this operational experience as an asset for their career transition.

Forrester Osei (IWF AC Chair) with Kit McConnell (IOC Sports Director)

  1. Support for the network of Athletes’ Commissions:
  • Administrative Support to Athletes’ Commissions – Building on the dedicated support to ACs that the continental associations are already providing, NOCs and IFs are encouraged to provide their ACs with administrative support, to support the running of the commissions and assist in the delivery of athlete-centred activities.
  • Safe Sport – Athletes’ Commission members to be safe sport ambassadors, including participation in the Safeguarding Officer in Sport programme, and put into practice the important learnings they received during the dedicated safeguarding workshop.
  • Athlete rights, clean sport and integrity – It was announced that new implementation guidance will be launched soon to support the Olympic Movement stakeholders in the important work of adopting and implementing the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration in their respective organisations.
  1. Support for athletes directly:
  • Olympic Movement funding model – Participants were presented with the Olympic Movement funding model and were informed about the athlete support programmes that exist for all athletes globally through the IOC, NOCs, and IFs as a result of the Olympic Solidarity model. The IOC AC will look into ways to further promote and explain the details of Rule 40 and its impact on athletes during the Olympic Games.
  • Mental health
    • A dedicated mental health helpline will be available for all Paris 2024 Olympians and Paralympians. Athletes competing in the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games will then have access to the fully confidential and 24/7 Mental Health Helpline (in 70 languages) for the entire Olympiad (i.e. the four-year period).
    • Additionally, it was announced that athletes will be able to benefit from one-year premium subscriptions to a leading mindfulness app to improve their sleep, enhance focus, alleviate anxious thoughts or for any other reasons. This offer will be launched on Athlete365 on 10 October, to coincide with World Mental Health Day.
  • OBS opportunities – In collaboration with Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS), two OBS training programmes will be taking place from September to November. This initiative provides training for Olympians and Paralympians, preparing them for career opportunities during the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • Athlete365 app – Athlete representatives gave their feedback on the development of the Athlete365 app. This will be available in time for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games to facilitate easier access to all information and resources that are available for athletes and their entourage before, during, and after the Games.

Forrester Osei at the ITA booth

The Forum concluded with a two-hour Q&A session with the IOC President Thomas Bach, who engaged directly with the athlete representatives and replied to their questions on various topics of the Olympic Movement.

Reflecting on the IAF, Forrester Osei underlined that “it represented a privileged opportunity to meet my counterparts around other sports and regions of the world. This is quite important as we understand that we have a lot of common problems and that only together, sharing our experiences, we can find more efficient solutions to those challenges”. The IWF AC Chair also shared his satisfaction with the way athletes are represented and heard within the IWF structure: “Many were surprised to know that the IWF has three AC members in its Executive Board, with full voting rights. This is also valid for the IWF Congress”. Mr Osei then concluded: “This shows the IWF’s willingness to put the athletes’ voice at the core of our decisions. This level of athlete representation is almost unprecedented in other International Federations, so we can proudly say we are leading the way on this matter”.

IWF Communications, with IOC Press Office