European Olympic Committees conference to drive a real change

The European Olympic Committees (EOC) will strengthen their commitment to safe sport and gender equality at a three-day conference bringing together 24 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in Brussels between on 6-8 March.

The event will be chaired by Annamarie Phelps, member of the EOC Executive Committee and Chair of the Commission for Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI). It is organised in partnership with the EOC EU Office, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Belgian National Olympic Committee (NOC) and The Well HQ, a leading women's health organisation. 

The focus will be on safeguarding in the context of gender equality, and how a better understanding of women's health in sports organisations can help drive positive change. 

After keynote speeches, practical workshops and group discussions on the first two days, the third day of the event will serve as the final conference of the Guidance to Achieve More Equal Leadership in Sport (GAMES) project, funded by Erasmus+ and implemented by the EOC EU Office. 

Annamarie Phelps, Chair of the GEDI Commission, stressed the importance of the conference in fostering cooperation and sharing best practice between NOCs and thanked the EOC and the Belgian NOC for their foresight in hosting the event. 

Annamarie Phelps, member of the EOC Executive Committee. EOC
Annamarie Phelps, member of the EOC Executive Committee. EOC

Phelps said: "One of the biggest and most important issues facing sports organisations around the world is protecting and ensuring that everyone can participate in and enjoy sport in a safe and secure environment. This is an issue that affects athletes, coaches and officials of all genders and ages, but statistically female participants are more at risk of being abused or harassed in sport." 

"In Brussels, the EOC will bring together NOCs from across Europe to discuss the challenges we continue to face. Sharing best practice is vital in the fight for safe sport, so that we can achieve a position where all athletes and participants can thrive. I am confident that the discussions we will have over the next three days will have an immediate and positive impact," said Phelps. 

"The EOC has shown its commitment to safeguarding by hosting this workshop and we must also thank the Belgian NOC for its role in hosting," she concluded. 

Pedro Dias, Gender Equality & Diversity Manager at the IOC, said: "The IOC is committed to playing a leading role in safeguarding and gender equality across the Olympic Movement to ensure that we address this critical issue. It is vital for the future of sport that all athletes are able to practice sport without fear of abuse or harassment."

The Conference of the European Olympic Committees is already underway in Brussels. EOC
The Conference of the European Olympic Committees is already underway in Brussels. EOC

"We are pleased to work with the EOC and their members in Brussels this week and welcome the continued work that they are doing and progress they are making. I am sure that further initiatives will emerge following two days of instructive discussions," he added. 

Belgian NOC President Jean-Michel Saive pointed out: "I would like to thank the IOC and the EOC GEDI Commission for having selected Belgium as host for this important conference. It gives us, as BOIC, the opportunity to share our experience and knowledge with other National Olympic Committees and to learn from them." 

"This exchange, especially in subjects such as safeguarding or promoting gender equality, is crucial in today's sports movement. It is by learning from each other that we can continue to improve in create a safe and welcoming sports environment for all," he remarked.