sábado, 14 de março de 2009

Walking the talk on governance

[Contexto: O Comité Olímpico Internacional organizou nos últimos meses um Congresso Olímpico Virtual, em preparação para o Congresso Olímpico que se realizará em Copenhaga em Outubro de 2009 (o último Congresso Olímpico aconteceu em Paris em 1994, portanto não é um evento muito frequente). No congresso virtual eram pedidas contribuições do público em geral para discutir vários temas propostos. Contribuí com o texto abaixo, no tópico "The Structure of the Olympic Movement - Good governance and ethics".]

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has invested significantly in promoting and demanding good governance in national sport systems across the globe, in particular after political crises leading to the disruption of established government and sport institutions: for instance, in Timor-Leste after its independence, in Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime, in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's overthrow. The IOC requires officially recognised National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to function democratically, governed by adequate constitutions, making key decisions in valid general assemblies, ruled by properly elected individuals. In each country, Olympic sports are typically organised in a pyramidal structure: in its base are athletes, who are members of clubs, which in turn are members of federations (or sometimes regional associations), which in turn are members of NOCs. Members of each organisation are present in general assemblies and have the power to elect the organisation's leaders and make key decisions such as approving annual plans and annual reports.

Oddly enough, members of the IOC are still natural persons, a majority of them whose membership is not linked to any function or office. This means that most members of the IOC, who make critical decisions for the whole Olympic Movement in Sessions, do not represent anyone else than themselves. The 1999 reform brought very positive (but still marginal) improvements to IOC governance, by establishing terms and age limits to members, and opening membership to athletes and leaders of NOCs, International Federations (IFs) or other organisations recognised by the IOC. However, a more radical change is required to bring the IOC up to date as a 21st century organisation.

It is not difficult to envision a better model. What does the IOC require from the sport organisations it recognises? Would it ever recognise an NOC whose members were individuals representing themselves? How would one expect the IOC to be constituted if it was to be created from scratch now? Probably through the association of world NOCs and IFs, which would become the members of the Session, represented by their leaders, and would elect IOC leaders and make all key decisions.

The challenge to surpass powerful conflicts of interests is significant: why would current IOC members decide to make themselves ineligible? But change is necessary and urgent: the early 20th century model* of a private club whose members elect new members and make critical decisions cannot ensure the fairness, transparency, and accountability that the global Olympic Movement demands and deserves. Perhaps current members won't take the initiative in driving change, but they may be sure that Olympic stakeholders (athletes, coaches, referees, sport managers, clubs, federations, NOCs, IFs, the public, sponsors, the media, etc.) will increasingly demand it and soon make it inevitable.

Let the change begin!

*Mais precisamente, o Comité Olímpico Internacional foi fundado em 1894, portanto ainda no século XIX

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