Olympic athletes can choose to compete independently


These days the world is in a particular crisis. One virus, among innumerable ones in the world, has caused this crisis. The reaction of the responsible politicians in almost every country in the world to the health risks it causes has triggered an economic crisis, the extent and scope of which cannot be measured and the further course of which is uncertain. Significant social disruptions and damage in almost every society in the world are further consequences of this crisis. Almost every area of ​​life is affected by this crisis, so it is hardly surprising that the national sports systems that exist around the world are also confronted with extremely difficult challenges. The same applies to international sport and its sports organizations, above all the IOC.

For the IOC, the crisis has again sharply raised the question of the Future of the olympic games raised. In a careful and well thought-out coordination process with the political leaders in Japan and the local organizing committee, the decision was made to host the next Summer Olympics one year later, at the end of July and August 2021. This decision was discussed extremely critically in the mass media and, especially in Germany, since the IOC's decision in favor of Tokyo 2021, concerns about the new date have increasingly become the focus of attention. The IOC, together with the Japanese government and in constant consultation with the WHO, made the implementation of the Olympic Games in Tokyo dependent on the further course of the pandemic. The health safety of all participants was and is in the foreground of all decisions and the IOC does not pursue a policy in which the Games must take place in Japan at all costs. However, it made it clear that further postponement will not be possible. If the health of the athletes were also in danger in 2021 and if fair preparation of the athletes for the games were not possible, the games would necessarily have to be canceled.

The brand name "Tokyo 2020" should be retained even if the games take place in 2021. This is understandable in view of the interests of the Japanese hosts and their financial investments that have already been made. However, this cannot be communicated through communication and should therefore be changed as quickly as possible. If the next Summer Games take place, they will have a special place in Olympic history as the “Games of Tokyo 2021”.

Anyone who believes in the idea of ​​the Olympic Games, who knows what the Games mean from a peace-political point of view, who knows the importance of the Games for the athletes, who has once observed the community experience in an Olympic athletes' village and perhaps was able to experience it for themselves, will become Certainly agree with the opinion that everything must be done in the next twelve months to ensure that there is no rejection. That the Olympic Games Tokyo 2021, on the basis of the “Agenda 2020” adopted five years ago, will lead to a great success for Japanese society and the Olympic movement. These days, some experts also believe the idea of ​​so-called "ghost games", i.e. the Olympic Games without having to discuss a spectator. Anyone who feels committed to the ideal of modern Olympism must forbid such a discussion. The IOC can therefore only be recommended to oppose this nonsensical discussion with all determination. “Tokyo 2021” should only take place if the constitutive features of modern Olympism are strictly adhered to.

A first condition for this must be that the staging of the games is not tied to a vaccination against the coronavirus. Dangerous viruses have always existed and will continue to exist in the future. For this reason, the holding of previous Olympic Games has never been tied to specific vaccinations. This should also apply to the future. Research into a vaccine is usually a difficult long-term scientific process, the success of which is usually open. There are many dangerous viruses for which unfortunately there is still no vaccine. A vaccination requirement would also be questionable from a human rights perspective. Organizationally, it would probably be extremely difficult to enable all participants and visitors to the games to have the desired vaccination, especially since the question of costs could very quickly turn out to be hardly solvable.

A cancellation of the Games in Tokyo would not only jeopardize the future of all other Olympic Games, including the Winter Games. A cancellation would threaten the future of the Olympic movement as a whole. Therefore, not only the IOC and the Organizing Committee of the Games in Tokyo will be challenged in the coming weeks and months. Rather, all stakeholders in the Olympic Movement are to be involved in a completely redesigned responsibility for securing the future of the Olympic Games.

For obvious reasons, the IOC is first and foremost challenged. With the election of Dr. Bach as President of the IOC, a new path was embarked on five years ago with the “Agenda 2020” and with the associated projects, the IOC is in a reform process that must be consistently pursued. The unique position of the Olympic Games must not be given up. This applies to the freedom of advertising during the Olympic competitions as well as to the largely advertising-free behavior of the athletes during the competitions. Prize money and entry fees are not allowed for the implementation of the Olympic Games. For hosts of the Olympic Games, staging the Games must make economic sense. The application process has to be constantly put to the test for reasons of cost and the implementation of the games themselves has to be simplified even further. The IOC must continue to distribute its profits according to the tried and tested principle. Solidarity aid for financially weak members is urgently advised during the crisis, transparency is the first imperative. As an organization, the IOC must continue to be a non-profit organization. The anti-doping fight must be continued consistently, the same applies to the fight against corruption. Further savings will be required to host the Games in Tokyo and all costs will have to be scrutinized in favor of the Japanese hosts.

The Athletes are crucial for the success of the Tokyo 2021 Games. Never before has the role of the athlete been as important as it is these days, in days of global crisis. There is no alternative to qualitative athlete participation and the athletes' representatives must be found through a democratically legitimized decision-making process. However, all Olympic athletes should protect themselves from self-appointed representatives. There is no shortage of participation issues. First of all, it must be about protecting the health of the athletes. The athlete representatives also have to prove themselves in a credible way in the anti-doping fight. Furthermore, they should constantly insist on the transparency of sport-political decisions in all organizations to which they belong, from the club to the national association up to the IOC. For the Olympic athletes, the main question is the financial transparency of their international and national professional associations and the respective National Olympic Committees to which they belong. The demand for a profit-sharing in the revenues of the Olympic Games, which has often been spectacularly highlighted in recent times, hardly arises. However, the urgent question that arises is what the International Olympic Associations and the more than 200 National Olympic Committees are doing with the IOC grants, which are usually in the millions, and what the athletes receive from this money.

In the immediate future, it must also be a task of the athletes to demand from the politicians that they can return as quickly as possible to regular training and to ensure competition structures in all Olympic sports. Only then can they carefully and conscientiously prepare for the Olympic Games next year.

The National Olympic Committee must represent the interests of the Olympic Movement in their own nations now and in the future much more committed to their political partners and to their national media than has recently been the case. This must also mean that Olympic education and upbringing receive much more attention in the state education systems than has been the case up to now. The “Olympic Movement” and the “Olympism” that supports it must be a compulsory content of the curriculum of all schools.

In view of the crisis, many NOCs must also demand a “new modesty”. All costs and expenses should be put to the test. Any luxury must be foregone and the funds made available by the IOC must be managed transparently. The focus here is on promoting athletes.

The international professional associations must be prepared to set completely new priorities in the face of the crisis. The success of the "Tokyo 2021" games must be given special priority and every international sports association has to examine what special contribution it can make to the success of these games. In some cases, this will also require a reduction in your own competition structures. This is the only way to ensure that the IOC can continue to distribute its income from the sale of media rights to its members.

The international professional associations are also required to have a comparable level of transparency in their decision-making processes and their finances, as has now become common practice at the IOC. The financial management of the associations should be publicly accessible. From a cost-benefit perspective, the existing international competition structures must be fundamentally put to the test. The number of international competitions and championships must be reduced to a reasonable and necessary level. Another haphazard growth of international events and world championships should be stopped immediately, not only for reasons of climate policy. The same applies to the extent and number of commissions and committees and, in some cases, the existing administrative and salary structures must also be reviewed. The financial resources made available by the IOC must be disclosed in their use and an independent integrity check of the international professional associations is imperative.

The Sponsors have made an important contribution to the success of the Olympic Games in the recent past. Many of the Olympic sponsors were characterized by a special loyalty to the Olympic movement.

In view of the global economic crisis triggered by the corona pandemic, it would be desirable if both the sports organizations and the nationally and internationally committed sponsors were characterized by special loyalty and solidarity. Flexibility in terms of payment dates is just as important as financial concessions can be expected on both sides of the partnership. Short-term selfishness can be dangerous. The long-term preservation of the Olympic Games, on the other hand, can also open up promising prospects for sponsors.

The international Mass media are of crucial importance as to whether the "Tokyo 2021" games will take place and how they can be carried out.

When asked about the future of the Olympic Games, the importance of the media can hardly be underestimated. The question of whether a positive development of the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games is desired in the future depends crucially on the opinion leadership of television, some print media and, more and more decisively, important social media. Unfortunately, these days one has to get the impression that some journalistic companions of the Olympic movement and some commentators in the leading daily newspapers, on television channels and on social media are not interested in a positive future for the Olympic Games. Successful sport-political work is rarely shown. Scandals, on the other hand, are sought and if there are none, a triviality is stylized as a scandal. Interview partners are selected according to their potential scandal. A differentiated weighing of different opinions rarely takes place. It would be quite obvious that the representatives of the sports-related media have a vested interest in the further development of the Olympic Games. Last but not least, the majority of the Olympic Games are financed by license agreements with a few national and international television stations, and even the sports section of every daily newspaper is a guarantee for the commercial success of its publisher. A critical accompaniment of the Olympic Movement is urgently desired. Fairness and criticism certainly do not have to be a contradiction in terms. Criticism and counter-criticism must also be encouraged when reporting on the pandemic. The standards that apply worldwide for good reporting - clear, truthful, relevant, understandable and objective - must therefore be particularly observed in these weeks and months of the Olympic trials.

The politics has rarely played a positive role in the more than 100-year history of modern Olympism. The danger of political abuse of the Games was not only evident at the Games in Berlin in 1936. Especially recently, the risk of abuse has become greater than ever. For the IOC, partnership with democratic political systems must be fundamental. If, however, there are good reasons for the Olympic Games to take place in nations with authoritarian, dictatorial and undemocratic political structures, the IOC must be measured by the discernible contribution made by hosting the Games to the democratic change in these political systems. When the games are awarded, the goals must be clearly stated and an independent evaluation is urgently required after the games have been carried out. Those responsible in the respective political systems of this world must, especially in times of crisis, reflect more than ever on the principle of subsidiarity and at the same time guarantee the organizations of sport their urgently desired autonomy. This applies equally to international political systems as it does to all national political systems. The IOC and all international sports associations are affected. The national sport organizations are above all dependent on the subsidiary help of their national political partners. In view of the financial hardship which many sports organizations have found themselves in as a result of the crisis, substantial subsidiary financial aid must be demanded from politicians. This is especially necessary because with this help the current threat to the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games can be countered. Any questionable interference, including any instruction, is forbidden by itself.

Tokyo 2021 is - also from a historical point of view - the greatest challenge for the Olympic movement and the IOC. This also applies to all member organizations of the IOC and to all Olympic athletes. This also applies to all direct and indirect stakeholders of the Olympic Games. In the coming weeks and months everyone can contribute so that the games in Tokyo can take place next year and that the future of the Olympic movement and its games can be secured in this way.

Posted: 07.06.2020

Subject assignment: Olympism Keywords: athletes, IOC, mass media, Olympic Games, sponsoring, sports politics, Helmut Digel's associations. Permanent link to the entry.