September 16, 2019
 In Wellbeing of Olympic Athletes

Country: France
Delegate Name: Paige Nichols

It is an undeniable fact that the Olympics pose a great risk to athletes’ mental and physical health. A number of athletes reported having suffered from severe post-Olympic depression, regardless of how they competed in the games themselves. Additionally, athletes are faced with a lack of protection, which exposes them to sexual abuse and harassment. A majority of abuse stems from members of an athlete’s entourage or individuals in positions of power and affects both men and women. While many initiatives have been enacted in attempts to combat systemic abuse, they do not have the international reach required of the Olympics. It is of utmost importance that the United Nations resolve this issue by determining international standards for dealing with athlete-targeted abuse.

Recently, Olympic Gold medalist Sarah Abitbol of France revealed a history of abuse from a former coach, sparking a wave of further accusations from fellow skaters. So far, France has conducted hearings and investigations into the claims and finally determined twelve coaches who have committed abuse or harassment. Abuse is not limited to one sport or nation, and so it is in the interests of all nations to prevent it entirely. Current measures taken by the IOC include the creation of a safeguarding officer, who is present in the Olympic village at all times, and the allocation of power to an IOC disciplinary commission to make decisions on cases of alleged conduct violations such as abuse. The IOC recently launched a “toolkit”, designed to assist both International Sports Federations and National Olympic Committees in creating their own policies, but France recognizes that this is merely a set of guidelines without definitive action. Some independent organizations, such as the Safe Sport Commission based in the United States, handle specifically abuse targeting athletes, but face challenges concerning funding and leniency towards perpetrators, bringing into question their effectiveness.

France recognizes the need for cooperation between International Sports Federations and National Olympic Committees along with member states, in order to implement consistent policies for the prevention of abuse. France would recommend forming a subsidiary of the IOC’s athletes commission, which would have the ability to handle reported cases while having international jurisdiction. This subsidiary could enact baseline prevention measures in collaboration with NOCs and IFs for maximum reach. France hopes to find supporters in nations with similar interests making consistent policies to maintain athletes’ well-being, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.

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