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OPEN LETTER TO ATHLETES FROM ATHLETES’ COMMISSION

June 21, 2020

MESSAGE FROM AC CHAIR SHANE O’CONNOR TO ATHLETES REGARDING TWO UPCOMING CONSULTATION PIECES: DISCRIMINATION AND THE IOC RULE 50

Dear Athletes,

 

In a previous message I referred to the unprecedented times in which we are now living – history is being written around us as the world continues to adapt to the challenges presented by the global pandemic that is Covid-19. History is also being written as we bear witness to the events that unfolded across the USA and igniting a global opposition to the cancer that is racism. We, the OFI Athletes’ Commission, are deeply saddened at the violence of recent weeks and know we cannot hope to understand the true impact for all those who have suffered as a consequence.

 

The recent Black Lives Matters campaign has brought back into focus issues of racism that exist in societies right around the world, and Ireland is no exception. The OFI Athletes’ Commission condemns in the strongest possible terms all forms of discrimination and we are committed to doing what we can in whatever small way possible to raise awareness of this issue and to support our athletes in taking a stand against discrimination in all its forms.

 

On Monday 15th June we met and discussed the issue of discrimination around sport and in particular with regards Irish sport. We also discussed the growing concern with regards the IOC Rule 50 and how this might impact athlete rights. We were unequivocally united in our condemnation of discrimination in both sport and our wider society. We acknowledge that the issue of Rule 50 is an incredibly challenging discussion that evokes strong emotions and is clearly a divisive topic however we do not believe it is appropriate to intrinsically link athlete concerns on Rule 50 with the issue of discrimination.

 

Discrimination is a societal problem that does not just impact sport or athletes and as a societal problem it runs deep. We do not believe simply removing Rule 50 will address this problem with any significance. There are many different drivers for protest and it is our belief that challenge to Rule 50 must be discussed in its own right cognizant of the need for athletes to have their voice heard while addressing the risks for the potential abuse of our right to free speech.

 

In an effort to further address both issues we want to hear from you. We are reaching out to you, our athletes, with two objectives –

 

  • We want to better understand how we can support our athletes whether they are directly impacted by discrimination or wish to take a stand against it. We also want to discuss how we can safeguard future generations of athletes from having to endure discrimination.
  • We will host an open discussion on Rule 50, to explore the views of the athlete body around challenges with maintaining, adapting or removing it.

 

With your support we will work directly with the OFI, Sport Ireland and relevant government departments to drive discussions and represent athlete views and to help shape anti-discrimination and inclusion programs in sport. And we will work directly with the OFI and the IOC Athletes’ commission to represent to the IOC your views in relation to Rule 50.

 

We will be in touch with you shortly by email with more details on the consultation details on both matters.

 

Best Regards,

Shane O’Connor

Chair – OFI Athletes’ Commission

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