What Athletes Want – Global Athlete Survey Calls For Revolution At IOC & Feds

Foto Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse 21 Dicembre 2019 Las Vegas - USA sport nuoto 2019 ISL - International Swimming League. Nella foto: Energy Standard Photo Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse December 21, 2019 Las Vegas - USA sport swimming 2019 ISL - International Swimming League. In the picture: Energy Standard
Athletes cheering on the first season of the International Swimming League and the associated changes being delivered to the sport - Photo Courtesy: Fabio Ferrari/LaPresse

Athletes want an overhaul of the way International Olympic Committee and Sports Federations such as FINA interact with sportsmen and women.

A Global Athlete survey shows that athletes want to be represented by committees and groups entirely independent of in-house commissions at federations; they want 50% of voting rights within sporting organizations on rules that affect them; they believe they are under compensated, should have the right to promote their own brands at peak competitive moments and want to be paid for attending Games and championships as part of measures to ensure they receive a fair share of the revenues and economies they help to generate.

Those are some of the overriding conclusions of a Global Athlete survey into “Athlete Rights, Welfare and Representation” launched in September 2019.

By calling for athlete committees and representation to be entirely independent of the likes of the International Olympic Committee, national Olympic committees, FINA, national federations and related bodies, athletes are delivering a powerful message: we don’t want you to tell us what to say and think – we want you to listen to what we’re saying and what we want you to do about it.

Global Athlete today issued the following summary of the survey: 

The survey resulted in 491 Athletes from 48 countries representing all continents from 40 summer and 16 winter sports providing feedback on athlete rights, welfare and representation.

Of the athletes surveyed 44% were actively competing with sport as their primary profession, 31% competing but not as a primary profession and 25% of the athletes were retired, 31% were Olympic Athletes, 8% Paralympic, 46% International level, 15% competed nationally.

Key outcomes of the survey included:

Athlete Welfare:

  • Athletes rights are somewhat respected by the Paralympic Movement followed by the International Olympic Committee and the International Federations but more needs to be done.
  • More work supporting athletes’ rights is required by sporting organizations.
  • Verbal abuse, unfair team selection and the fear of retribution are the top concerns of athletes.
  • More work needs to be done to offer athletes a safe place to report concerns.
  • More support is required for mental health, sport career transition and ongoing medical care as well as retirement funds and financial planning.
  • Para-athletes want to see classification rules improved.

Athlete Compensation:

  • Athletes do not receive the appropriate amount of compensation from the International Paralympic Committee, the International Olympic Committee and National Federations followed by governments, National Olympic and Paralympic Committees.
  • Athletes should have the right to build and sell their own brands at National Competitions and at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
  • International Olympic Committee, International Paralympic Committee and International Federations should pay athletes for attending their Games.

Athlete Representation:

  • Athletes have a low level of representation.
  • Athletes should have 50% of voting rights within sporting organizations on rules that are being developed that affect them.
  • There is a need for collective independent athlete representation.
  • Athlete committees should be independent of sport federations.
  • Global Athlete would like to thank the athletes, researchers, FairSport and Play the Game for their contribution to the survey.

A second report related to athletes’ feedback on the anti-doping system will be released in mid March 2020.

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Denice Smith
Denice Smith
4 years ago

This survey is a wake up call to the athletic bodies around the world – stop telling athletes and start listening to what we’re saying and take action on it.

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