Dear Sporting Community,
Fall is upon us; leaves are changing color, and the morning breeze is getting colder and colder. Summer 2020 has been full of twists and turns, mostly leaving the athletes’ community trying to navigate unprecedented times with a high level of uncertainty. Our World is simply not the way it used to be, and we’re adapting to new “Covid-19” realities. Since the IOC announced the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on March 24th, we have been isolated for weeks not knowing what tomorrow would look like. George Floyd’s cruel death opened our eyes to the inequalities, institutionalized bias and racism present in our communities. The sport community as a whole and athletes from coast to coast have juggled a roller coaster of emotions. Regardless, we believe that it will make us stronger and when time comes, we will be ready to be Olympic.
In the meantime, here is what we, the Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission (COC AC), have been up to in the past few months and we wanted to take this opportunity to share with you some news and information.
The Olympic Charter’s Rule 50 has the objective of “providing a framework to protect the neutrality of sport and the Olympic Games” and to maintain the focus of the Olympic Games on athletic performance, sport, and international unity (Rule 50 Guidelines Developed by the IOC Athletes’ Commission).
With the recent events surrounding the “Black Lives Matter” movement around racial inequalities and injustices; and in light of the various actions from professional sport associations and athletes, it was important for us to consult with Canadian athletes about their stance regarding the Olympic Charter’s Rule 50.
In Canada, it is important to highlight that there were, and still are mixed opinions on Rule 50. Our athletes’ views are spread across a spectrum from maintaining the Rule in its pre January 2020 form to the complete abolition of the Rule 50. To fully understand and effectively communicate the Canadian athlete perspective with respect to Rule 50, the COC AC set out and followed the process outlined below:
- Educate ourselves on Rule 50
- Attend IOC AC and Pan American Sports AC discussions on Rule 50
- Provide Canadian athletes with context and background on Rule 50, the changes introduced in January 2020 by the IOC and the IOC Athletes’ Commission’s renewed consultation process.
- Contextualize Rule 50 in an international landscape for Canadian athletes.
- Present pros and cons to the three general perspectives (i.e., “maintain”, “amend” or “abolish”) on how to treat Rule 50 going forward in a balanced manner.
- Develop and distribute a COC AC made video illustrating points #3-5
- Consult Canadian athletes and construct a detailed understanding of their opinions through a three-pronged consultation process, consisting of:
a) One-on-one athlete outreach (via email communications, calls, etc.)
b) Zoom webinar open to all Canadian athletes in Olympic sports (along with live polling and Q&A period)
c) An athlete survey distributed to all Canadian athletes (through, and in concert with, AthletesCAN).
- Discuss the Canadian athlete perspective with IOC AC. Provide our recommendations as part of the IOC AC’s broader rule 50 consultation process.
- Publish the COC AC recommendations
Canadian athletes generally understand and acknowledge the complexity of the Olympic Charter’s Rule 50. They strive for a balance between enhanced freedom of expression versus maintaining the values and idealism of the Olympic Games. Based on our consultation the COC AC overall recommendation to the International Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission is to further amend Rule 50 based on our (7) recommendations.
Full report here: COC Athletes’ Commission Rule 50 Recommendations
Diversity in Sport
Diversity in sport continues to be a priority for the Athletes’ Commission. We have started a Team Canada Diversity and Inclusion Alliance of athletes who are working actively to improve policies and practices in their respective NSOs. The objective for this group of athletes is to collaborate and support each other, while also working towards building and supporting initiatives that reach more broadly through the Canadian sport system.
Return to Sport
COVID-19 has impacted our daily activities for many months and is set to do so for an unpredictable extent of time. As Canadian athletes are slowly coming out of isolation and resuming some of their regular activities, training and possibly some form of competitions, it is important to understand the responsibility that we all share to keep the COVID-19 curve from rising steeply and preserving a healthy nation, safe environments, and healthy athletes.
A Return to Sport Task Force – chaired by Own The Podium and including representatives from the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), as well as technical leaders from a diverse cross-section of sports (winter vs summer, team vs individual, etc) – has created a Return to High Performance Sport Framework that will ensure athletes, coaches, and other staff will have the resources they need to safely return to their activities.
The COC’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Mike Wilkinson, is also directly involved, helping to monitor COVID-19 as the situation in Canada continues to evolve. The focus is on how sport activity will be reintroduced safely, cautiously, and methodically from the perspective of all participants. It includes a minimum baseline of standards, building on guidelines from health authorities. As many of you know, the Return to Training phase is already underway for all levels of sport, from club to community to provincial to national level athletes.
As that phase progresses, further guidelines will be developed for Return to Competition, both within Canada and internationally. We encourage athletes to stay engaged with their National Sports Organizations (NSOs), be in touch with your Canadian Sport Institute or Institut Nationale du Sport for their return to sport plans and updates. Please note, the guidelines set out by each province or sport organizations vary and are being constantly adjusted as areas advance to new stages of re-opening. Ultimately, this will help toguide Canadian athletes safely back to sport, including training and competition.
Athlete IF Representation
As mentioned previously in our January Newsletter, our main goal as we move forward is to enhance our communication both ways so that athletes have the information they need from us, and an effective way to communicate with us. We are continuously working on building out our network of athlete representatives in each sport and improving direct communication. We are also building relationships and partnerships with the athletes’ commissions, athlete representative groups or similar athlete groups of IOC, WADA, Pan Am Sport, other National Olympic Committees and International Federations.
Specific to International Federations, if there current athlete representatives interested in running for available positions on IF athlete councils, or athletes generally interested in those councils and contemplating a future run – let the sport system know. Whether it is via your NSO, your athlete council or by reaching out to us, any interest in representing Canada internationally in sport administration should be pursued! We strongly encourage anyone interested to reach out.
Based on the practices of the IOC, our AC has postponed the election of summer athletes until the fall of 2021, following completion of the 2021 Tokyo Games. We will still be appointing new members for 1-year terms (from November 2020 to November 2021) to fill some gaps within the COC AC.
If you are passionate, curious, committed, and interested in playing a role in the Canadian sport landscape, we encourage you to apply before October 15th, 2020 and become an athlete leader within our group.
Apply now to become a 2020 COC Athletes’ Commission Appointed Members!
Work from our partners that you should know about!
AthletesCAN is the association of Canada’s national team athletes. It is an inclusive athlete organization that is independent of sport governing bodies that works to ensure that the sport system is athlete centered. They have a ton of great resources available that help to build strong athlete leaders so be sure to check it out!
Game Plan is Canada’s total athlete wellness program that has resources available to athletes to ensure they are supported during their sporting career and beyond. These resources focused on five key areas: health, skill development, education, network and career. We recently had a session with Game Plan to learn more about what they have to offer and were blown away. The Game Plan team is working hard to constantly add new partners and services. We highly recommend that you take a minute to explore their website, register for the program and get in touch with a Game Plan advisor near you!
OLY Life is a unique platform where you will find the latest news from the COC and the sport community as well as to learn about upcoming events and opportunities exclusive to Olympians!
We look forward to making the 2020’s an amazing decade for the whole community. We wish everyone all the best and send a special shout out to all active athletes. We will be in touch throughout the year but reach out to us anytime!
Yours in sport,
The Canadian Olympic Committee’s Athlete Commission