Following a vote of confidence from all members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Athletes’ Commission (AC), Zimbabwean Olympics swimmer Kirsty Coventry was officially appointed by the IOC president as the Commission’s chair during a joint meeting between the IOC executive board and Athletes Commission in Pyeongchang, South Korea, yesterday.
Coventry has been a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission since 2012, and has played a significant role in developing the Commission’s new strategy, which was presented by the current Chair, Angela Ruggiero, at the International Athletes’ Forum last November.
Talking after the meeting, Coventry, a five-time Olympian, underlined her desire to continue to build and implement the strategy, which seeks to empower athlete participation in the Olympic Movement decision-making process and support athletes’ development in their sporting and non-sporting careers.
“The main objectives I would like to focus on are the implementation of this great strategy that we have all worked so hard to bring together,” said Coventry.
“We also need to ensure we continue to improve and be proactive with our communications. This will help us to build a stronger global athlete community that is truly reflective of the athlete representatives.”
She added: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Angela for the amazing work she has done. Her commitment, drive and passion to push the Athletes’ Commission forward have been outstanding. I know all of the Commission members will join me as we offer her our full support in the important work she has to do in PyeongChang over the final few weeks of her term.”
In turn, Ruggiero congratulated Coventry on her appointment and expressed confidence in her being “a tremendous leader”. “While I am sad to depart the Athletes’ Commission, I know that it is being left in good hands, with Kirsty having already shown a lot of initiative in this Commission.”
After stepping up to Chair from Vice Chair at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Angela Ruggiero will see her term end at the close of the Olympic Winter Games on 25 February.
Also confirmed at the meeting was the appointment of Danka Bartekova as the Vice Chair of the Commission. Bartekova has been instrumental in the delivery of Athlete365, a new overarching brand that brings together all the IOC athlete-focused communication strands.
Commenting after the meeting, Bartekova said: “It has always been my dream to represent athletes. I think it’s important we communicate better and communicate proactively. The launch of Athlete365 is the first step in this process, but we must now push to activate the global athlete population to engage and strengthen the athlete voice.”
Current Vice Chair Tony Estanguet will continue as a member of the Commission until Tokyo 2020, but has stepped down in his role as Vice Chair to be able to focus on the delivery of the Olympic Games Paris 2024 as President of the Organising Committee.
With four more days to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the IOC Executive Board met with the IOC Athletes’ Commission this morning to discuss the Commission’s mission during the Games, and the elections currently underway for two new members, as well as important topics ranging from the protection of clean athletes and the fight against doping to the launch of a global athlete survey to feed into the collective creation of an Athlete Charter of Rights and Responsibilities, as spearheaded by the IOC Athletes’ Commission.