Athletes' association says change of culture needed at IOC

The Olympic rings are pictured in front of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 24, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

BERN (Reuters) - A change of culture is needed at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to make decision-making more inclusive, an association representing 85,000 athletes around the world said on Tuesday, following the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.

World Players Association (WPA) executive director Brendan Schwab said that, while he was happy with the decision to postpone the Games, the delay in making it in the face of the growing coronavirus pandemic made the IOC look almost naive.

“What we would like to see is a change in the culture of decision-making at the IOC - a shift from the hierarchical approach, a culture of hierarchy, to a culture of inclusion,” Schwab told Reuters.

“The IOC should take comfort from the fact that when it does involve critical stakeholders, when it does involve the athletes, then the best decision will be made.”

Schwab said that the decision had taken a “long time” and that the IOC only moved its position “in response to some unprecedented pressures throughout the world, initially from athlete groups, certainly civil society.”

“We certainly feel that the IOC was isolating itself with its business as usual approach,” said Schwab.

“The World Players Association has affiliates throughout the world and when sports of the level of the NBA, the National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, international rugby... the football leagues in Europe are closing down because of the pandemic, the IOC was looking almost incredibly hopeful to the extent of being naive.”

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis