As the Olympic Movement continues to cope with the unprecedented situations brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Panam Sports Athlete Commission is increasing its commitment to elevate the athlete's voice.
On July 9, the Athlete Commission organized an in-depth and important virtual discussion among athlete leaders of the Americas. The purpose of this meeting was to not only provide an update about anti-doping procedures and navigating the pandemic, but also engage the athlete community in a deeper discussion regarding peaceful protests at the Pan American and Olympic Games.
The meeting featured 68 athlete leaders from 38 out of the 41 countries of the Pan American Family, Vice President of the International Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission Danka Bartekova, as well as World Anti-Doping Agency Athlete Committee Chairman Ben Sandford and Director of Latin America Maria Jose Pesce. Panam Sports President Neven Ilic and Secretary-General Ivar Sisniega also welcomed and spoke to the athletes during this pivotal meeting.
The two-and-a-half-hour meeting led by Athlete Commission President Aliann Pompey was headlined by the intriguing conversation surrounding Rule 50 of the IOC and the athlete's perspective on this controversial topic. A spirited debate was held regarding the merits and drawbacks of the rule, with discussions centered on potential modifications to the rule as opposed to its abolishment. Athlete leaders from more than eight countries provided their perspective and possible solutions in the nearly two-hour debate.
On behalf of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, Bartekova added that any possible solution must consider all points of view and be inclusive for athletes around the world. She also expressed the importance of respecting the podium moments of athletes who sacrificed and persevered to reach the pinnacle of elite sport.
Panam Sports and its Athlete Commission are committed to providing platforms for athletes to express and share their valuable opinions. Following the fruitful virtual discussion, surveys will be sent to athletes throughout the region seeking their input and recommendations to find a path forward that elevates the athlete voice in a respectful manner.
The Athlete Commission encourages all athletes of the Americas to provide their feedback and continue engaging with the commission members to help shape the future of the Olympic Movement. Once all feedback is received, the commission will compile the recommendations and share them with the IOC for review.
“As the athletes of the Americas, we are taking the initiative to speak to other athlete leaders and brainstorm ways we can express our beliefs or create guidelines that enable this expression. Our discussions last week were the first step in understanding the greater athlete perspective, which is vital in our mission to find a resolution that benefits athletes throughout the world. Every member of our commission is ready to engage individually with all athletes who are eager to share their recommendations,” said Panam Sports Athlete Commission President, Aliann Pompey.
Updates from Athlete Commissions of National Olympic Committees throughout the region regarding their efforts to help athletes during this pandemic were also received during the meeting, with a focus on keeping the athletes of each country engaged with their respective commissions.
The WADA representatives also explained the advancements made to the anti-doping whereabouts application, as well as other important clarifications regarding in and out-of-competition testing.