Report from the World Olympians Forum – April 2019

April 29, 2019

Representing the Irish Olympians at the recent World Olympian’s Forum in Lausanne was Olympian John Bouchier Hayes (Fencing, 1964, 1968, 1972), who detailed how the event unfolded. The three day event featured workshops held under the theme of “Olympians for Life,” with 150 participants gathering from 107 National Olympians Associations.

Opening Address

The opening address took place in The Olympic Museum by the WOA President Joel Belouz OLY, and the theme revolved how Natoinal Olympians Associations (NOAs) can come together to drive support and empower Olympians at the heart of the Olympic Movement, followed by a networking opportunity where different representatives shared experiences with each other.

Day two was a joint day with representatives of the National Athletes’ Commissions, which included representatives from the Irish Athletes’ Commission. The welcome speech was delivered by President of the IOC Thomas Bach, who indicated a joint session would provide a fantastic opportunity to strengthen partnerships between the NOAs and the National Athletes’ Commissions, where shared knowledge would lay the foundations for a more unified and effective network for future collaboration.

Following this address was a panel discussion with Joel Belouz OLY, Danka Bartekova OLY (IOC Athletes’ Commission Vice Chair), Kit McConnell (IOC Sports Director).

Bouchier Hayes joined the Europe Group for the “Continental break out and team building exercise” session, which was an interesting session dominated by the needs of the athletes and what the WOA could do for them. Some of the issues included:

  • Preparation for life after being an elite sportsperson – and discussion around the view that it may not be possible to study/build a career whilst competing as an elite sportsperson
  • Health insurance after career
  • Expectations that the WOA would deliver on the needs of these athletes both material & spiritual
  • Communications and programmes to be developed between the two organisations both at international and national levels

There are some particularly progressive NOAs, e.g. the USA has a spending annual budget of $450k. Regarding the Irish Olympians immediate goals Bouchier Hayes outlined them as follows:

  • Building the detailed database of Irish Olympians
  • Accreditation of all Irish Olympians with OLY
  • Organising a Tokyo 1964 reunion with the participating athletes

The afternoon session was “Influence Like a Pro Workshop”.

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