By Karolos Grohmann
(Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee on Thursday called on elite athletes to contribute to the creation of a charter aimed at protecting their rights in a rapidly changing sports environment.
The call comes amid rising opposition by athletes to the way sports are run globally given scandals over corruption, doping and sex abuse in sports including soccer, athletics and gymnastics.
Athletes from several countries have also demanded a bigger share in revenues from major events, including the Olympic Games, and a relaxing of tight rules during the Games that restrict marketing revenues for athletes.
“We want to know what matters to you. You, as athletes, are at the heart of sport, and we want to continue our drive to strengthen support to you,” the IOC said in a statement outlining the draft of the Athlete Charter of Rights and Responsibilities.
The IOC-driven initiative for athletes to contribute via email currently focuses on five topics: integrity and clean sport, governance and communication, career and marketing, safeguarding, sports competition.
“Today marks the next phase of the Athlete Charter’s development, whereby the steering committee is inviting elite-level athletes worldwide to share their voice and contribute to a second-phase survey,” it said.
“As the sports world continues to evolve, it is more important than ever to amplify the voice of athletes and empower and protect them.”
The IOC has been criticised by athletes for its handling of a Russian doping scandal that involved more than 1,000 athletes across many sports and that tarnished the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
It triggered a ban of Russia from this year’s winter Games in Pyeongchang but the nation was reinstated shortly after the end of the Games.
World soccer’s governing body FIFA is also dealing with the fallout of its corruption affair which led to the arrest of several top soccer officials and ongoing investigations and trials in Switzerland, the United States and Germany among other.
The Olympic body has also recently been criticised by German athletes, led by Max Hartung, chair of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) Athletes’ Commission, over what they said was a financial imbalance that needed to be corrected.
In an open letter this month they demanded a bigger financial cut from the Games and an end to the IOC Rule 40.3.
The rule restricts athletes’ sponsorship activities during the Games if those companies are not directly linked to the Olympics.
The letter said athletes “participate negligibly in the marketing profits of the IOC, even though they provide their far-reaching image and personality rights.
(Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)