IOC and WOA welcome closer working relationship

29 | 1 | 2016

As part of an ongoing strategy to strengthen the working relationship between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Olympians Association (WOA), the IOC has named five high-profile former athletes to represent the IOC on the WOA’s Executive Committee and the WOA has named a new representative on the IOC Athletes Commission and two new members on the WOA Board to strengthen its continental representation.

Angela Ruggiero (Ice Hockey, USA), Frank Fredericks (Athletics, Namibia), Pernilla Wiberg (Alpine Skiing, Sweden), Natalie Cook (Beach Volleyball, Australia) and Li Lingwei (Badminton, China) have each been selected to serve on the WOA Board due to their extensive experience and great respect within the Olympic Movement. Their appointment by IOC President Thomas Bach marks an historic milestone for both organisations and underlines the close bond between the IOC and WOA.

Patrick Singleton (Luge/Skeleton, Bermuda) will take over as the WOA representative on the IOC Athletes’ Commission for an initial term running through the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo when the current WOA representative Amadou Dia Ba (Athletics, Senegal) finishes his term after the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. WOA President Joël Bouzou has also appointed Willie Banks (Athletics, USA) and Mikako Kotani (Synchronised Swimming, Japan) to extend the WOA Board’s Continental representation.

The pathway towards the appointments began at the June 2015 meeting of the IOC Executive Board, when the Board approved a plan for IOC representation on the WOA Executive Committee and greater integration at both a strategic and operational level of the WOA’s management with the IOC administration.

The plan was ratified at the WOA’s General Assembly in October last year with the passing of a new WOA constitution, which enabled this important change to take place. Since that time the WOA has also seen its administration team re-located to the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, a further symbol of their advanced working relationship.   

The enhanced integration between the two organisations will ensure the WOA and Olympians everywhere benefit from increased support through the alignment of the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 and its athlete support programmes with the WOA’s own work.

International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach, said:

“2015 was an important year in the history of the WOA. Following the successful World Olympians Forum in Moscow and the approval of the new WOA Constitution in October, I am very pleased to see that the integration of the WOA with the IOC is in its final stage. 

“Protecting and supporting clean athletes is one of the main pillars of Olympic Agenda 2020. In this respect, the WOA’s integration with the IOC is another implementation of the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020, it is athletes and Olympians who should and will benefit from this close collaboration.”

World Olympians Association President, Joël Bouzou, said:

“This is an exciting new chapter for the WOA and I am proud to welcome on board our new Executive Committee members. I am confident each will make a significant contribution to support the ongoing development of the WOA and the role of Olympians in society as we embark on the journey ahead.

“We are grateful for the ongoing support from the IOC and believe that the increased integration of our two organisations in such a meaningful way will reap great rewards for Olympians and have a positive impact on their wellbeing at all stages of their lives.”  

“I would also like to thank Amadou for his sterling work as the WOA representative on the IOC Athletes Commission and I look forward to continuing working with him on the WOA Board. As we forge ever closer relationships with the IOC it is important that we continue to integrate ourselves within the IOC structures while retaining our independence, which is why we have chosen our Treasurer Patrick Singleton, a very experienced and well respected administrator and recent Olympic Games competitor, as our next representative on the IOC Athletes’ Commission.”

“Willie Banks and Mikako Kotani are two highly respected and successful Olympians who have served sport and the Olympic Movement with honour and distinction since retiring from active competition and will extend the WOA’s Continental representation as mandated by the newly updated WOA Constitution passed by the WOA General Assembly at the inaugural World Olympians Forum in Moscow at the end of last year.”

The WOA Executive Committee:

  • Joel Bouzou, President (Modern Pentathlon, France)
  • Anthony Ledgard, Secretary General (Cycling, Peru)
  • Patrick Singleton, Treasurer (Luge/Skeleton, Bermuda)
  • Alper Kasapoglu, Vice-President (Athletics, Turkey)
  • Amadou Dia Ba, Vice-President (Athletics, Senegal)
  • Willie Banks, Board Member (Athletics, USA)
  • Natalie Cook, IOC Appointed Board Member (Beach Volleyball, Australia)
  • Nadia Cruz, Board Member (Swimming, Angola)
  • Frank Fredericks, IOC Appointed Board Member (Athletics, Namibia)
  • Mikako Kotani, Board Member (Synchronised Swimming, Japan)
  • Tatyana Lebedeva, Board Member (Athletics, Russia)
  • Li Lingwei, IOC Appointed Board Member (Badminton, China)
  • Freida Nicholls, Board Member (Athletics, Barbados)
  • Angela Ruggiero, IOC Appointed Board Member (Ice Hockey, USA)
  • Malav Shroff, Board Member (Sailing, India)
  • Pernilla Wiberg, IOC Appointed Board Member (Alpine Skiing, Sweden)

Full bios of the new IOC representatives are here:

Angela Ruggiero – four-time Olympian (1998-2006) and Olympic ice hockey gold medallist, Angela has vast experience in sport administration as an IOC Member, vice-chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, member of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Board of Directors and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Foundation Board. Angela has previously held a position on the WOA Executive Committee as the IOC Athletes’ Commission Liaison.

Frank Fredericks – Four-time Olympic silver medallist (100m and 200m), Frank has represented Namibia at three Olympic Games (1992, 1996 and 2004), he has been an IOC member since 2012, is a former Chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission and remains an influential member within the Olympic Movement.

Pernilla Wiberg – Double Olympic gold medallist in Alpine Skiing, Pernilla is well known to the WOA as an active member and existing chair of the WOA Constitution Committee. Her service to sport and her fellow Olympians is widely respected and she is a former IOC member (2002-2010) and IOC Athletes’ Commission member. 

Natalie Cook – five-time Australian Olympian (1996-2012) and gold medal winner at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in beach volleyball, Natalie is up and coming within the Olympic Movement having been invited to join the WOA Executive Committee at the General Assembly in October as a representative of the Oceania region. 

Li Lingwei – Three-time world badminton champion (1983, 1985 & 1989) and IOC member for China, Lingwei is a hugely experienced sports administrator. Among her many roles she currently sits on the IOC Olympic Programme and Olympic Solidarity Commissions, she is a member of the Executive Board of the World Badminton Federation (BWF) and the Executive Board of the Chinese Olympic Committee.

 Patrick Singleton - Three-time Olympian (1998, 2002 Luge; 2006 skeleton) Patrick was the sole representative for Bermuda at the Nagano, Salt Lake City & Torino Olympic Games. He was the first Bermudian to win medals in any winter event. Patrick competed in seven World Championships and took 14 medals in both Luge and Skeleton during his sporting career. Patrick was re-elected last year as the WOA Treasurer after his successful re-engineering of the WOA’s financial administration and accounting.

Willie Banks - Double Olympian Willie Banks held the world record in the triple jump for a decade. He was a crowd-pleasing athlete who is credited with originating the athletes’ crowd handclap, which has now become the norm at meetings around the world. Willie was the President of the US Olympians Association and is involved in various charities connected to sport and the Olympic Movement.

Mikako Kotani - Double Bronze medalist Mikako competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics as a synchronized swimmer representing Japan and was Japan’s flag bearer at the Seoul Olympic Games. She was a member of the IOC Athletes Commission and of the Japanese Olympic Committee and recently retired as the chair of the Olympic Council of Asia’s Athletes Committee. Mikako was part of the successful Olympic bid presentation team for the 2020 Olympic Games, which were awarded to Tokyo.