The International Olympic Committee (IOC) adopted the Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration (Athletes’ Declaration) during the second day of the Session in Buenos Aires on 9 October. This ground-breaking document was formed following an extensive process that gathered the views and opinions of more than 4,200 elite athletes from 190 countries.
Setting out the fundamental principles that are flexible enough to adapt to athletes’ needs across sports and countries, the Athletes’ Declaration includes 12 rights and 10 responsibilities, exploring topics such as anti-doping, integrity, clean sport, career, communications, governance, discrimination, due process, and harassment and abuse.
Inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other internationally recognised human rights standards, it outlines a common set of aspirational rights and responsibilities for athletes in the Olympic Movement. See the Athletes’ Declaration here.
The document will be referenced in the Olympic Charter, signifying its central status within the Olympic Movement and reaffirming the Olympic Movement’s commitment to supporting athletes during their sporting and non-sporting career. The structure is in place for it to be modified as and when required. An ongoing and ever-evolving process, the Athletes’ Declaration is a living document which will have updates and revised editions to ensure continuous relevance.
“I am truly proud of what we have achieved together. The Athletes’ Declaration is a document driven by the athlete community and represents an historic moment for the recognition of athletes’ rights and responsibilities globally”, outlined Kirsty Coventry, Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. “It was more than a year-long process as we wanted to engage with all stakeholders, athlete representatives and athletes. We gave them the possibility to share their voice and tell us what matters most to them and their comments are reflected in the final document.”
The initiative has been led by a Steering Committee, chaired by Olympian and BMX racer Sarah Walker. The Steering Committee is composed of 20 athlete representatives from across the Olympic Movement: ten from the International Federations, five from the Association of National Olympic Committees, one from the International Paralympic Committee, one from the World Olympians Association and three from the IOC Athletes’ Commission.
“Leading the Steering Committee who worked on the Athletes’ Declaration over the past year was an honour and an exciting experience,” said Sarah Walker. “We have worked hard to make sure we create a document that empowers and supports us as athletes and represents our voices. I am proud that so many athletes around the world have actively contributed to shaping it. This is a historic moment, but it is only the beginning, and we are committed to encourage ongoing dialogue across the global athlete community and all other stakeholders to ensure the continued relevancy and effectiveness of the Athletes’ Declaration”.
In addition to being an athlete representative for their respective sporting organisations, the Steering Committee members collectively have participated in 44 Olympic or Paralympic Games, winning 37 medals, as well as at least 85 World Championships, at which they have won 61 medals.
The idea of an Athletes’ Declaration was sparked in early 2017 and discussed among various Athletes’ Commissions. Its development and delivery is part of the implementation of the IOC Athletes’ Commission Strategy. The Athletes’ Declaration was then discussed with more than 100 athlete representatives at the IOC International Athletes’ Forum in November 2017 in Lausanne, Switzerland. Subsequently, a first-round survey was completed by nearly 200 athlete representatives from 66 countries and 77 sports disciplines, to establish themes and types of rights and responsibilities to be included in the Athletes’ Declaration.
The Steering Committee released a second survey in July 2018 that built upon the findings from the first one: 4,292 participants from 190 countries and more than 120 sports disciplines (including all 91 Olympic and Paralympic disciplines) completed it and shared their voices on the different topics. In parallel, consultations with stakeholders from across the Olympic Movement and beyond was initiated..