Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Virtual Olympic Congress

The International Olympic Congress, which organises the Olympic Games, launched public consultations on This is the first time in the history of Olympic Congresses that the general public can submit their views on the topics under consideration. An analysis of these contributions will be conducted, and the results published by the IOC in 2009.

The information gathered through the virtual Congress will form the basis of discussions at the 13th Olympic Congress held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in October 2009. Members of the public can submit their contributions via the following link: More information on the submission guidelines can also be found at this address. The deadline for submissions is 31 December 2008.

The public consultation process is designed to take the pulse of the general public on the following themes:

Theme 1: The athletes
* Relationship between the athletes, the clubs, federations and the NOCs
* Health protection in training and competition
* The social and professional life of athletes during and after elite competition

Theme 2: The Olympic Games
* How to keep the Games as a premier event
* The Olympic values
* Universality and developing countries

Theme 3: The structure of the Olympic Movement
* The autonomy of the Olympic Movement
* Good governance and ethics
* The relationships between the Olympic Movement and its stakeholders

Theme 4: Olympism and Youth
* Moving towards an active society
* Is competitive sport still appealing?
* Youth sports events

Theme 5: The digital revolution
* A new management of sports rights
* How to increase the size of the sports audience
* Communication with stakeholders in the digital age

It is interesting to see that such an elite body, of which members have been accused of accepting bribes and corruption, opens up for suggestions and criticisms. Of course, the IOC has become a little bit more democratic by accepting sports persons in the council, but it does not have the image of a democratically working organisation with open procedures and records. Did the IOC make known the people and their vote for favouring the Olympic Games to China?

Of course it is easy to be sceptical about this move. Yet how serious is this action. How many e-mails do the governors expect? Why start this process one and a half year before the congress and not after the Olympic Games in China?

Is this repressive tolerance? Of course the governors of the IOC always like to speak about the Olympic family, but this always sounds like the colonial family: we the governors and the sports people; the visitors and television viewers belong to the cold branch of the family. It looks like the IOC has discovered a new breed in their taxonomy. After the governors, the sports officials, athletes, members of the press, there are now members of the public.

Is the use of modern media as e-mail and sites appropriate in opening up a closed organisation like the IOC? In this case, people who like to forward opinions, remarks and criticism can use e-mail and sites, basically a one way process. At best you can expect a thank-you note or an extensive press release after the congress in October 2009. It is not a forum or a blog, where you can compare notes and start discussions.

Yet it must be said that the IOC has put many debatable questions on the table. Looking at the digital issues, for example, the question of managing sports rights is posed. Remember the last winter- and summer games? Sports people were not allowed to have a blog and television companies were restricted in their internet rights. There are still many hard nuts to crack.

It will be interesting to see how successful this experiment will be. But whether it is was a courageous step will become clear from the congress results in October 2009. It should be come clear then, whether people from all over the world have reacted to this call and whether the governors have been sensitive to the opinions, remarks and criticisms.

Blog Posting Number: 979

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