IOC To Begin Certification Course On Safeguarding in September 2021
It took 124 years and a great deal of harm, abuse and damage that lasts to this day – but better late than never: the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today approved the establishment of the “International Safeguarding Officer in Sport Certificate”
As the IOC notes in a statement:
“This is a first of its kind because there is currently no certificate or minimum standard of education or training for safeguarding officers in sport on an international level.”
The IOC’s five-month education course will be developed by “an International Advisory Board of experts, under three Programme Directors, and will be fully aligned with other international efforts to protect athletes and align sports policies and programmes with the United Nations 2030 Agenda”.
The IOC did not hint at who the experts would be nor has it, as yet, stipulated what the gender composition of the advisory board will be.
There is another issue already being raised with the IOC, Olympic champion and Safe Sport advocate Nancy Hogshead-Makar, of Champion Women and Team Integrity, asking WHAT REMEDY DO ABUSED ATHLETES HAVE?:
The course will be “open to anyone, but aimed in particular at International Federations (IFs), National Federations (NFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs). The wording and funded nature of the scheme as set out by the IOC today may trouble Safe Sport and safeguarding advocates:
“Successful candidates proposed by the NOCs will be able to apply for Olympic Solidarity scholarships to enrol in this course.”
That indicates a lack of independence, while the financial and bureaucratic aspects of the course may also raise questions.
While the sex abuse scandals that have unfolded in the United States and other parts of the world have tended to focus on abuse by coaches, swimming is among sports that have been in the spotlight because of the alleged abuse of leading officials.
Former FINA Bureau member Ben Ekumbo, of Kenya, remains under a cloud of investigation relating to allegations of abuse of swimmers in cases that came to light during another trial yet to be concluded: he faced fraud charges related to Olympic kit intended for Kenyan athletes at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but found at the home of the then Kenyan Swimming Federation president and FINA Bureau member.
The large amount of kit was returned to the Keyna Olympic Commitee The Nation reported last weekend. It will now be handed over to athletes preparing for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, Ekumbo has also faced allegations of corruption from swimmers.
Safeguarding is not just about sexual abuse. As Olympic and swimming history proves conclusively, abuse takes many forms, including the immense harm done by systematic doping of minors through such as that behind the Sporting Crime of the 20th Century – the GDR’s State Plan 14:25 – the IOC has failed to deal with in terms of the demands of wounded athletes on both sides of the issue.
The Cambridge dictionary defines safeguarding as:
“… the protection of children and adults who could be easily hurt emotionally and physically”
As my interview with Sippy Woodhead (part 1 ; part 2) on the events of her teenage years show, hurt takes many forms, including the kind that impacts status and lifelong identity.
Governors of sport are catching on. USA Swimming announced today that it will honour the 1980 USA Olympic swim team whose work and hopes and goals were blown up by boycott and political events and decisions they had no control over.
The Golden Goggles will be held remotely this year, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions: a virtual online event will be held on November 19.
The IOC Safeguarding Announcement in full:
As part of its ongoing efforts to promote athletes’ safety and wellbeing, the Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today approved the establishment of the “International Safeguarding Officer in Sport Certificate”. The course leading to certification is set to commence in September 2021. This is a first of its kind because there is currently no certificate or minimum standard of education or training for safeguarding officers in sport on an international level.
The five-month education course will be developed by an International Advisory Board of experts, under three Programme Directors, and will be fully aligned with other international efforts to protect athletes and align sports policies and programmes with the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
It will be hosted on sportsoracle. The course will include a final examination, which must be passed in order to receive the certification.
Registration for this course – which will be open to anyone, but aimed in particular at International Federations (IFs), National Federations (NFs) and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) – will incur a fee. Successful candidates proposed by the NOCs will be able to apply for Olympic Solidarity scholarships to enrol in this course.
“The safety and wellbeing of athletes are paramount to the IOC and the Olympic Movement. We need to make every effort to keep athletes safe and to guard their rights. I am pleased that we can today initiate this certificate to enhance awareness and education in this important area of athlete welfare, reinforcing the stance against all forms of harassment and abuse in sport,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
In another effort, 11 additional webinars for NOCs will be available in four different languages from October 2020 onwards. This series intends to address cultural challenges faced by NOCs in developing and implementing athlete safeguarding initiatives, enhance their capacity in athlete safeguarding, facilitate the sharing of best practices and provide access to a group of experts who can offer further support. It builds on the success of a webinar series organised for IFs in 2019.
Additionally, the IOC is planning a safe sport digital education and awareness campaign starting in the fourth quarter of 2020. This Athlete365 campaign will look to build global awareness around safe sport in the run-up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The overarching principle of the safe sport digital education and awareness campaign is to safeguard athletes, protect the integrity of sport and promote sporting values, through:
– Educating and empowering athletes with knowledge of what safe sport means.
– Removing the stigma surrounding this topic and moving the conversation towards a positive message of support and solidarity.
– Encouraging action by providing easily understood education, and awareness of reporting frameworks and procedures such as the IOC Games-Time Framework, during the Olympic and Youth Olympic Games.
The IOC has been raising awareness of athlete safeguarding globally by encouraging every sports and sport-for-development organisation to tackle this issue and improve athlete protection. This new initiative further strengthens the IOC’s commitment to educating and making the Olympic Movement aware of the importance of safeguarding.
As of Rio 2016, an IOC Safeguarding Officer has been present and available to all athletes competing at the Olympic and Youth Olympic Games.
Through the work of its Prevention of Harassment and Abuse in Sport (PHAS) Working Group, the IOC has been striving to guide and assist the IFs and NOCs in developing their own policies to prevent harassment and abuse.
In 2017, the IOC launched the “IOC Athlete Safeguarding Toolkit” in collaboration with over 50 stakeholders, including athletes, IFs, NOCs and subject-matter experts. Previously, in 2016, the “IOC Guidelines for IFs and NOCs related to creating and implementing a policy to safeguard athletes from harassment and abuse in sport” were released.
Further information on the IOC’s educational activities to prevent harassment in sport can be found here.