If there is one positive to be taken from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that it has brought people together. The athlete community has been no exception, and several athletes’ commissions have been working round the clock to make sure that their athletes are supported during this tough time. The Russian Athletes’ Commission (AC) has been one of the most proactive, and its Vice-Chair, Lada Zadonskaya, has shared with Athlete365 some of its initiatives from the last few months.
When the pandemic became apparent, many of us were in shock. This was such a sudden event which hit the world, but we remembered that every problem brings the chance for new opportunities, which is why we decided to launch several different initiatives as soon as possible. Of course, we are all working remotely now, and given that many people are in isolation, we had to find remote solutions.
When we were beginning to hear about the impact in Europe, we saw a video from our colleagues at the Italian Athletes’ Commission in which they said thank you to their doctors and nurses who were fighting the virus. We decided to create a similar video message to use on social media to show how thankful we are for them.
We recognised the importance of keeping people motivated and maintaining communication with our local communities, to keep spirits up during lockdown. The IOC created the #StayStrong campaign, and we decided to use this to guide our work.
Firstly, we are actively engaged in an educational project for Russian children and their parents, called “Olympic Patrol”, organised by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC). As part of this project, a number of our Olympians and AC members conduct online interviews and live streams to share their experiences of the Olympic Movement and the Olympic values, targeted at the younger generation.
They often touch on their stories from the Olympic Games and I think that it’s important that we share this information, especially with children. We recognise our duty to be role models in the community, and it’s great to be in a position to help and support others.
Additionally, we created a three-week project aimed at encouraging people to do exercise during this time when many are less active. Several Russian athletes became “jury members”, judging the original and creative ways that the public were doing workouts at home.
Another campaign, called “Olympic Country”, saw six of our Olympians conduct free live training sessions every day for three weeks online. There were different versions, too, so people who prefer to work out in families, alone, inside or outside all had something suitable.
In addition, the ROC Athletes’ Commission and other athletes felt that we could not stay away from the problems faced by people during the pandemic. Funds were raised for charitable purposes on a voluntary basis, which the ROC donated to one of the Russian hospitals, and targeted financial aid was provided to sports veterans in all regions of the Russian Federation. Some of our athletes also worked as volunteers, helping elderly people during the pandemic.