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Aussie Fox helps shape Agenda 2020

19 November 2014

IOC: Australian Olympic kayaker Jessica Fox has played a part in the launch of Agenda 2020- the International Olympic Committee’s road map for the future of the Games. 

As one of 11 athletes at a round table discussion with IOC President, Thomas Bach, Fox used her experiences as a 2012 Olympic medallist and 2010 Youth Olympic Champion to enrich the debate. 

“It was an honour to be part of a select group to discuss the Agenda 2020 with the President.

Hearing his vision and the direction of the Olympic movement was very exciting and it was a great learning experience to be a part of the round table discussion and contribute,” the 20-year-old said.

Discussions were held in Lausanne, Switzerland at the home of the IOC, and the final 20+20 recommendations (found here) will be voted on by the full IOC from December 8-9. 

“The 40 recommendations presented are all really positive and important,” Fox said. 

“I think these recommendations show the IOC is acting and there is a sense of renewal and modernisation of the Games which has the athletes’ best interests at heart.

“The IOC has a focus on athlete experience and you can tell that there has been a lot of athlete input and a lot of thought gone into the wellbeing and experience of the athlete- for example the village life and other aspects of the games like the ceremonies - these are two unique and incredible experiences for athletes.”

Among the raft of recommendations, Fox cited changes to the bidding process, the protection of clean athletes, the Olympic television channel and gender equity as some of the most interesting developments. 

“The protection of clean athletes is obviously a very important topic and I strongly agree with the recommendation to change the mentality from one that focuses on the negativity surrounding drug cheats and the 'cost' of fighting doping, to one that really focuses on protecting and honouring clean athletes and their integrity. It should be seen as an investment in these athletes who engage in fair play,” Fox said of recommendation 15.

A real highlight for Fox, a natural with the media as well as a world beating paddler, is the prospect of a dedicated Olympic television channel that operates year-round. It will be a worldwide platform and an opportunity to spread Olympic values as well as highlighting the IOC’s many cultural and humanitarian projects. 

“As a sport-lover this would be awesome because I won't have to wait until the Olympics come around to hear all the amazing Olympic stories! The idea of having Olympic sports on TV 365 days of the year is really exciting, especially for small sports such as mine that only get coverage once every four years.” 

On a personal note, Fox has long pioneered for creating 50 per cent gender equity in sport- particularly in Slalom which offers one Olympic boat class for women and three events for men in Rio (21 female athletes and 61 male athletes). 

“Being an advocate for these, I was also happy to see gender being a topic of discussion as well as youth participation and the Youth Olympic Games.

“I think President Bach really has a strong focus on fostering gender equality. He spoke about it in our meeting that there needs to be more women in sport, in direction of sport and on Boards. That's important if we want to show that we've achieved gender equality.”

When asked how she thought the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo would look, Fox responded: “to achieve gender equity - that would be a fantastic achievement.”

Australian Olympic Committee President and IOC Vice President, John Coates will vote on the reforms in December. He echoed many of Fox’s sentiments. 

“Above all, for me the credibility of sport remains crucial to the future of the Olympic Movement. It is good to see us investing in protecting athletes who play fair when it comes to doping, and particularly when it comes to match-fixing and manipulation.

“We have to find a way of being able to introduce new sports that are relevant to young people. I was very impressed by the new sports presented at the Sports Lab at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing in the summer, and particularly the culture of those athletes taking part. We just have to be flexible to include new events – and I think the recommendations contained in Olympic Agenda 2020 will help us to do that.”

Taya Conomos

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