Sofya Velikaya: ″Protecting the interests of athletes is no less important than winning medals″

The 9th IOC Athletes’ Forum, the largest in history, has ended in Lausanne. Representatives of 185 National Olympic Committees, 50 international federations, 5 Continental Athletes’ Commissions, all the Organising Committees of the upcoming Olympic Games, the International Paralympic Committee, WADA and the World Olympians Association took part in this Forum.

The Russian Olympic Committee was represented at the event by the Chair of the ROC Athletes’ Commission, Olympic fencing champion Sofya Velikaya.

Plenary sessions, panel and open discussions were held in Lausanne with the participation of IOC President Thomas Bach, who was a member of the first IOC Athletes’ Commission formed back in 1981.

For two days, the participants discussed the strategy of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, the Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities of Athletes, approved at the 133rd IOC session in Buenos Aires, as well as anti-doping issues and Olympic support.

– It was a grand event, – admitted Sofya Velikaya in an interview to the ROC Information Service. – I was able to talk with members of the Olympic movement, discuss issues concerning athletes all over the world, and establish connections with foreign colleagues, which is especially important in the run-up to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

It was extremely interesting to talk with representatives of the Athletes’ Commissions from other NOCs and share the details of projects such as Winter Sports Day and other public sports events that are organised in our country with support from ROC.

One of the most important topics at the Forum was the discussion of the Declaration of the Rights and Responsibilities of Athletes. It was resolved unanimously to further disseminate this document in the world of sports and to strictly follow its ideas and principles.

Special attention was paid to the issues of gender equality and the psychological well-being of athletes. In this day and age of the Internet, athletes experience a lot of pressure on social media and this should not affect their morale.

The participants of the Forum called for supporting the Declaration of the Rights and Responsibilities of Athletes, strengthening the fight against doping in sport, involving functional athletes as ambassadors for the Olympic movement, and encouraging the work of Athletes’ Commissions in National Olympic Committees.

– Do you regret missing the Russian fencing championship in Sochi?

– The day I returned from Lausanne coincided with the first day of competitions. That is why I just didn’t have time to recuperate and prepare for the championship. After consulting the coaching staff of the national team, I decided to skip the tournament. Now I need to regain my strength and be ready to fight for the Olympic licence. And protecting the interests of athletes, which I now do as the Chair of the ROC Athletes’ Commission, is no less important than winning medals.

… The dates of the 9th IOC Athletes’ Forum coincided with those of the World Olympians Association Forum held in Lausanne. Representatives of both organisations held a joint meeting.