Inaugural World Olympians Forum Declared a Resounding Success

21 | 10 | 2015

Declaration of Support for the Olympic Charter signed on behalf of all Olympians

The inaugural World Olympians Forum (WOF) has concluded in Moscow following a highly successful day-long event, which saw high-profile Olympians, representatives of the International Olympic Committee, the National Olympians Associations and the Olympic Family, Governments and other key stakeholders come together to celebrate Olympism and the achievements of Olympians worldwide.

The Forum marked a significant moment in the Olympic calendar with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, IOC President Thomas Bach, World Olympians Association (WOA) Patron HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and WOA President Joël Bouzou giving opening addresses to launch the new event, on behalf of the WOA

Addressing the World Olympians Forum, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin, said:

“It is symbolic that this event is taking place on the 20th anniversary of the World Olympians Association, which unites 143 national associations and more than 100,000 Olympians from around the world.

“The association is actively involved in promoting sport and the constructive and positive values that go with it. You do this through your personal examples and the real achievements of outstanding athletes, many of whom dedicate their lives to public, state or political activity and become true ambassadors for peace.”

IOC President, Thomas Bach, said:

“This Forum is a chance for Olympians, young and old, from winter and summer sports, and from all around the world, to contribute to the future of the Olympic Movement. Your work has continued long after you stopped competing. Thanks to your on-going efforts we can make the world a better place through sport.

“You are a living example of what we all know from our personal experiences to be true: Once an Olympian always an Olympian.”

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, said:

“As ambassadors of the Olympic spirit, we as Olympians have a key role to play in promoting sport and ensuring that its positive effects resonate throughout our communities so that future generations can reap the same benefits.

“The World Olympians Forum has provided a fantastic platform for us to learn from each other, to explore ways to develop our NOAs further and, above all, to find concrete solutions that will enhance the lives of our Olympian members and the communities in which they live.”

The World Olympians Forum, established by the WOA in partnership with the Russian Olympic Committee, saw 284 delegates in attendance with registrations from 121 National Olympians Associations (NOAs) as well as a host of other notable names from within the Olympic Movement, including Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), Patrick Hickey, IOC Member and European Olympic Committees President and Kevan Gosper, IOC Member.

Olympic Gold Medallist and IOC Executive Board member Sergey Bubka, Olympic Silver Medallist and Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission Claudia Bokel, Olympic Champion and IOC Member Guy Drut and two-time Olympic Gold Medallist and seven-time World Champion Yelena Isinbaeva were among the leading sporting figures who spoke at the Forum.

One of the key highlights of the WOF was the Signing of the Declaration of Support for the Olympic Charter which was signed by Olympians from all five continents. The Declaration pledges: 

  • To continue to spread the spirit and practice of Olympism in our communities
  • To work for peace and a better life for all through sport
  • To help our fellow Olympians with their life transitions and their post-career health and fitness issues
  • To oppose any political or governmental interference in the autonomy of sports organisations which might prevent an athlete from exercising their right to compete in the Olympic Games or other major sporting events which also embody the Olympic Spirit

The Declaration was signed on behalf of all Olympians by:

  • HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, WOA Patron;
  • Joël Bouzou, WOA President;
  • Willie Banks, two-time US Olympian and former world record holder in Triple Jump;
  • Anastasia Davydova, five-time Russian Synchronised Swimming Olympic Champion;
  • Hicham El Guerrouj, middle-distance runner and double Olympic Champion;
  • Michelle Ford-Eriksson MBE, Olympic Swimming Gold Medallist and;
  • Koji Murofushi, Hammer Olympic Gold Medallist.

The launch of the WOF marked new ground for the WOA in its strategic mission to create a meaningful platform for Olympians to share best practices and discuss the topics of greatest concern to them. The Forum also symbolises the new spirit of collaboration between the IOC and the WOA, which includes an agreement to work in close partnership with integrated teams delivering joint projects.

Among the topics and themes discussed across a series of panel sessions, key note speeches and workshops were issues such as how Olympians can use their position as role models to inspire young people and to achieve the aims of Olympic Agenda 2020, why the Olympic Games matter and their relevance in modern society, how to give youth a sporting chance and the importance of closing the gender gap in sport.

WOA President, Joël Bouzou, said:

“We are delighted that the inaugural World Olympians Forum has been such a success – it is fantastic to get the event off the ground and we look forward to it becoming a regular fixture on the Olympic calendar. It is rewarding to see such a large number of NOAs together in one place to celebrate Olympism and recognise the efforts of Olympians around the world to inspire and engage future generations.

“We would like to thank the International Olympic Committee for their strong show of confidence in the WOA and our excellent hosts, President Putin and the Russian Olympic Committee, for their invaluable support. We are honoured that President Putin addressed the Forum, signifying the importance of the ongoing work of the WOA and NOAs to promote and protect the interests of all Olympians. 

“It has also been wonderful to welcome so many high-profile figures from the Olympic Movement to inaugurate the Forum and I would personally like to thank them all for making this historic event happen.”