ASIAN ATHLETES’ FORUM HIGHLIGHTS IMPORTANCE OF COLLABORATION BETWEEN ACS
Athlete representatives from 43 National Olympic Committee (NOC) Athletes’ Commissions (ACs) across Asia gathered at the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Athletes’ Forum on 18 and 19 March 2023, to share success stories and offer advice on organising effective athlete-focused activities.
Funded by Olympic Solidarity, the OCA Athletes’ Forum gathered 43 NOC ACs from across Asia for two days in Bangkok, Thailand, to bring together the Asian network of ACs for the first time since 2018. IOC AC members from Asia joined IOC AC Chair Emma Terho and 1st Vice-Chair Seungmin Ryu to join the discussions and lead a number of sessions.
The Forum featured presentations and discussions on the support available through Olympic Solidarity and Athlete365, and how NOC ACs can become more effective in offering activities on safe sport, career development beyond sport, anti-doping, and the prevention of competition manipulation.
NOC ACS SHARING BEST PRACTICES
Over the two days, NOC ACs shared many examples of how they are using the funding available to them from Olympic Solidarity (through the NOC AC Activity Grant) and the OCA (through the Athlete-Centred Project Fund). For example, the Laos AC shared how they engaged with their athletes after creating their AC in 2022, and the Saudi Arabia AC shared how they were strengthening athletes’ rights and their representation in national federations.
IOC AC Chair Terho was happy with the level of engagement, and highlighted the importance of knowledge-sharing among NOC ACs. “To hear about the many successful activities that NOC ACs across Asia have organised has been inspiring, and I hope this can encourage other ACs to learn from these great examples and further increase the support they are giving to their athletes,” she said.
NOC ACs can apply for the USD 10,000 Olympic Solidarity Activity Grant each year. It can be used to organise projects and activities focused on supporting athletes.
PARTICIPANTS SUPPORT PRINCIPLE OF NON-DISCRIMINATION
Participants discussed the Olympic values and the principle of non-discrimination. There was strong support from the participants that athletes should have access to sport and competition without any form of discrimination. It was mentioned that the unity amongst Asian athletes around the principle of non-discrimination has been demonstrated over decades in Asia, including during times when conflicts and wars have been and are taking place in Asia.
With regard to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes in competitions, the Forum participants fully supported their return to competition (including at the Asian Games) and recommended that their re-introduction to international competition should come with clear conditions, namely: there should be no Russian or Belarusian government officials present; participation should be as strictly neutral athletes, meaning no flag or national symbols; and the athletes should compete clean, complying with all applicable anti-doping regulations.
OCA AC ANNOUNCES FIRST ELECTION
On day one of the Forum, OCA Director General Husain Al Musallam announced that the OCA AC will hold elections for the first time. The election of the AC members will take place during the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, in September 2023, while the election of the Chair of the AC will take place in July 2024.
The Chair of the OCA AC, Mikako Kotani, welcomed the news. “This is a great step for the OCA AC,” she said. “We have been working on this step together with the OCA. Athletes should elect their representatives, and at the Asian Games in Hangzhou they will have the chance to do this. It will certainly make the impact of our Athletes’ Commission stronger.”
After the two days of positive discussions and presentations, the Forum came to an end with the participants drafting their own AC action plans and also agreeing upon the four key outcomes of the event. These were:
- OCA Athletes’ Commission elections to be held at the Hangzhou Asian Games in September 2023.
- Support for ACs to have a dedicated liaison or personnel in the NOC and for NOCs to fully support ACs by providing the resources needed.
- ACs should apply for the Olympic Solidarity Activity Grant of USD 10,000 and the Athlete-Centred Project Fund assistance of USD 3,000 from the OCA, both of which can be used to organise activities to empower ACs and athletes, each year.
- Athletes should not be discriminated against on the grounds of nationality, religion or ethnicity. They should also not be punished for the actions of their governments, and should have access to international competitions, including the Asian Games. With regard to the participation of Russian and Belarusian athletes, these athletes should return to international competitions under clear conditions, including no flag and competing as neutrals, no government officials present, full compliance with anti-doping rules, and fairness to Asian athletes in any Olympic qualification pathway.