OCA AC Chair Kotani calls for unity, friendship in athletes’ mission

OCA AC Chair Kotani calls for unity, friendship in athletes’ mission

Kuwait City, Kuwait, August 3, 2022: The Chair of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) Athletes’ Committee, Mikako Kotani of Japan, said she had learned a lot from the international webinar held on Wednesday.

The webinar was organised by the OCA Athletes’ Committee and featured presentations from the International Olympic Committee as well as from the Athletes’ Committees of the Philippines and Singapore. A total of 98 participants from more than 35 National Olympic Committees/Athletes’ Committees joined the webinar.

In summing up the event, Kotani thanked everyone for their “great presentations and preparations” for the webinar.

“I myself, I learned a lot of things through this webinar,” she said. “I leaned anti-doping is not the only issue to keep sports clean, but preventing manipulation is a big issue to keep sports clean and fair play and safe.”

She also praised the initiatives of the Philippines Athletes’ Committee, who provided a spiritual wellness lesson alongside mental, financial, anti-doping and business guidance, and the Singapore Athletes’ Committee for supporting not only elite athletes but in being very active for all athletes.

“That is something that opened my eyes. I would love to take that lesson,” Kotani said, referring to the Philippines’ spiritual wellness guidance.

She added that all participants would have found and learned many different things during the three-hour webinar, which was run out of the OCA HQ in Kuwait, and she asked the participants to pass this information on.

“Please share what you learn or what you found to all your Athletes’ Committee members or the athletes. Please share, go for action, collaborate with your athletes and apply for the funds; the money is there - the IOC Solidarity and the OCA Athletes’ Support Fund; together you can get 13,000 USD. The money is there.”

Earlier in the seminar, the participants learned that the OCA’s Athlete Centered Project Fund had a budget of USD60,000 for the year 2021-22, and that each NOC could apply for USD3,000 of this fund, while the IOC’s Olympic Solidarity offered 10,000 USD to each Athletes’ Committee under a National Olympic Committee.

Kotani, a bronze medal-winning synchronized swimmer at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games and Sports Director of Tokyo 2020, also urged participants to register for the Athlete 365 platform of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission.

From her personal contact with Athletes’ Committees around Asia, Kotani knows there are big differences in the level of activity and impact.

“I think we introduced very advanced Athletes’ Committees from the Philippines and Singapore but I know there are many Athletes’ Committees who still don’t know what to do or what to start with,” she said.

“From my one-to-one meetings I realized that members don’t speak English, they cannot understand English, and they have difficulties with the internet so they cannot reach Athlete 365. For those – please do not stay back!”

If they needed help, she asked them to contact the OCA, the OCA Athletes’ Committee members or the IOC.

“We are all colleagues, so let’s be united, let’s be friends and let’s stay connected. I really look forward to meeting you in person next March,” she concluded, referring to the OCA Athletes’ Forum planned for next spring in Bangkok.

The webinar was coordinated by Tony Tarraf, Head of Athletes Development Department and Special Projects at the OCA. The presenters included the Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, Emma Terho, and the Vice Chair of the OCA Athletes’ Committee, Mohammad Tayyab Ikram.

The topics included the prevention of competition manipulation, safeguarding, the role and responsibilities of an Athletes’ Committee and raising awareness.

The OCA Director General, Husain Al Musallam, had welcomed the participants to the webinar and said he was “very happy” that 42 NOCs now had an Athletes’ Committee – 40 of them with an established Athletes’ Committee under the NOC and two more with athlete representatives in the process of establishing a formal Athletes’ Committee in their own country. 

“I am sure that today’s meeting will be very important – very important for each NOC, very important for the athletes in Asia and very important also for the OCA,” said Mr Al Musallam. “I would like to put on record our appreciation to all the personnel who have made this happen and for the preparation.”