Connecting on a Global Athlete Level: Highlights from the 11th International Athletes’ Forum
For two days, Lausanne was at the heart of global sports discussions as over 400 athlete representatives gathered for the 11th International Athletes’ Forum (IAF). This significant event, organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), provided a platform for athletes from different countries, sports, and backgrounds to address key challenges faced by the Olympic Movement.
The IAF hosted members from 181 National Olympic Committees (NOCs), 54 International Federations (IFs), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), upcoming Olympic Games Organizing Committees (OCOGs), and many other stakeholders. This diverse group came together to engage in meaningful discussions and collaborate on finding solutions to various challenges.
Honest Conversation with the IOC President
A highlight of the IAF was a comprehensive two-hour question-and-answer session with the IOC President, Thomas Bach. The event highlighted the tradition of open dialogue, addressing topics such as safe sport, the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and the role of individual neutral athletes in international competitions during the qualification period. President Bach also emphasized the mission of the Olympic Games to promote peace and understanding worldwide.
Diversity of Topics on the Agenda
Throughout the IAF, a wide variety of subjects were addressed and discussed. This included the challenges faced by athletes in conflict-affected regions, the impact of digitization and artificial intelligence on sports, and the growing popularity of e-sports. The forum also explored gender parity, the inclusion of new sports in the Olympic program, cooperation with the Deaflympics, and athlete well-being in the Olympic Village.
Looking towards Paris 2024
One of the most anticipated moments was the discussion on the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, which will embody a new era of sustainable, urban, inclusive, and youth-focused Olympic and Paralympic Games. It was also revealed that Paris 2024 will be the first Olympic Games with gender parity, with an equal number of slots for female and male athletes.
The IAF resulted in a series of tangible outcomes in three main areas:
- Olympic-related Initiatives: Notable initiatives included the “Road to Paris” pilot project, social media guidelines for athletes during the Games, and support for athlete representatives in NOC delegations.
- Support for the Athletes’ Commission Network: This involved providing administrative support to Athletes’ Commissions, promoting safe sporting practices, and strengthening athletes’ rights, clean sport, and integrity.
- Direct Support to Athletes: Highlights included the Olympic Movement funding model, mental health support, OBS opportunities for Olympians and Paralympians, and the upcoming Athlete365 application.
Emma Terho, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, summarized the forum as a platform for athletes to address their concerns, their future, and the ways in which they can contribute to the Olympic Movement.
The IAF is not just a gathering of athletes; it is a testament to the power of unity, openness, and global collaboration in the world of sports. As we eagerly await the Paris 2024 Games, we anticipate that they will set a remarkable standard for the future of the Olympic Movement.
The SwissTech Convention Center was honored to host an event of such importance for the world of sports and wishes the best to every stakeholder present in their future endeavors.