Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, August 31, 2020: The Athletes’ Committee of the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee conducted a virtual two-day International Athletes’ Forum on August 29-30 which attracted more than 10,000 viewers.
The forum was held under the patronage of HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Alfaisal, President of SAOC, and the topics included: athlete commissions around the world, the Olympic journey, health and wellbeing, empowering women in sport, life after sport, an athlete’s entourage, Olympic Solidarity support, anti-doping and sports psychology.
In his opening address, HRH Prince Abdulaziz said: “A lot of athletes do not have a voice or a representation but they are our heroes and champions, so how could we learn about their needs if they do not have a voice?
“This is why we have to take their opinions and their impressions, especially because all sports are so different. The key purpose of an athletes’ committee is to solve the problems of athletes and bridge the gap between athletes and sports officials.”
HRH Prince Abdulaziz stressed the need for all sports organisations to have an athletes’ committee so that the voice of the athlete can have an influence in decision-making and planning. He also said that athletes themselves, if necessary, must drive this policy to make sure athletes are represented.
Speakers during the weekend included IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair Kirsty Coventry of Zimbabwe, OCA and IOC athletes’ representative Ryu Seung-min of Korea, Sydney Olympic 2000 400m hurdles silver medalist Hadi Souan of Saudi Arabia, OCA Women and Sport Committee Chair Sheikha Hayat bint Abdul Aziz Al Khalifa of Bahrain, SAOC Sport Federations Services Committee CEO HRH Princess Delayel Al Saud, Youth Olympic Games medallist Dalma Malhas and Olivier Niamkey of IOC Olympic Solidarity, as well as many experts and leaders in the Saudi sports movement.
“Empowering women is about developing her participation in a way to allow her to be involved and make decisions,” said Sheikha Hayat. “To do that we need to provide her with the necessary resources, with the cooperation of the government, education sector and private sector.”
HRH Princess Delayel highlighted the growing participation and influence of women in Saudi sport, with female involvement in 25 national sports federations and more than 2,400 female athletes.
Dalma Malhas said her YOG equestrian bronze medal at Singapore 2010 had a big impact on her life and gave her motivation for the future.
The Vice President of SAOC, HH Prince Fahad bin Jalawi Al Saud, thanked the Saudi Athletes Commission for hosting the forum and the guest speakers for making it so successful.
“I believe this is the golden era for our Saudi athletes, especially with HRH Prince Abdulaziz as SAOC President and athlete; he shares the same concerns as any athlete and, therefore, helps and supports them,” concluded HH Prince Fahad.