Gathering some 170 participants from International Federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and their respective associations, as well as IOC Members and senior IOC staff, the second Seminar on the Autonomy of the Olympic and Sports Movement aimed to assess when and why the autonomy of sport has been threatened since September 2006 – the date of the first such seminar, and to agree on a set of principles and mechanisms that would help sports organisations deal with these issues.
The IOC reported that since 2006 some ten serious interferences in sports’ structures and regulations had been brought to its attention, clearly indicating a need to put in place systems to help the Sports Movement to protect its independence not only from governments but also from commercial partners and other bodies.
Participants reaffirmed that the responsibility that sport has in society, and the autonomy with which it regulates itself, have led to its credibility and legitimacy. Autonomy enables sports organisations to treat everybody equally, independently from culture, religion, gender and other diversities. Worldwide rules of the Olympic and Sports Movement preserve the universality of sport and its noble cause. Sport can play its unique role thanks to its autonomy and this role could be seriously compromised if sport-governing bodies are subject to any kind of interference.
However, attendees of the seminar agreed that good governance and unity was crucial if the sports movement was to justify and claim its autonomy. They discussed and supported a document entitled ‘Basic universal principles of good governance of the Olympic and Sports Movement’ that would serve as a reference for all sports organisations. As indicated in its title, the document aims to be simple, reasonable, acceptable and practical for all stakeholders across the globe. This working document will shape the discussions that will take place during the 2009 Olympic Congress where the topic will be prominently on the agenda.
Seminar participants also agreed to create an Olympic and Sports Network tasked to preserve the autonomy of sport, to facilitate exchange of information and enable stakeholders to react quickly to upcoming threats. In his conclusion, IOC President Jacques Rogge presented the project, and gave details on how it would be put in place and function.
‘It is time to act and to act quickly’, said Rogge who led the meetings over the last two days. ‘This second seminar is an important milestone in our ongoing work to protect the autonomy of sport. Good governance and unity within the Olympic and Sports Movement and of course constructive relations with governments and intergovernmental organisations are key in this process. This is why I was keen to get everybody together to progress on this important topic in the lead-up to the Olympic Congress in 2009. I would like to thank the participants for their active participation and look forward to working with them over the next year,’ he added.