African Athletes’ Forum: first-ever election of the ANOCA Athletes’ Commission

Over 100 athlete representatives from over 50 National Olympic Committee (NOC) Athletes’ Commissions (ACs) from across Africa gathered in Algiers, Algeria, on 11 and 12 March 2023 for the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) Athletes’ Forum. The event saw the first ever election for the ANOCA AC, and AC capacity-building, supporting athletes across Africa and the non-discrimination principle were key topics addressed.

AC capacity-building the focus

The athlete representatives were given presentations on important topics such as Olympic Solidarity, safeguarding, mental health, anti-doping and the programmes available to athletes through Athlete365.

Through a mixture of panel discussions and breakout groups, the ACs discussed the various opportunities and challenges their athletes faced, as well as hearing case studies from fellow athlete representatives on how they were successfully delivering activities for their athletes.

Attending on behalf of the IOC AC was Chair Emma Terho, along with members Aya Medany and Humphrey Kayange. Speaking after the two-day event, Emma said: “It’s been brilliant to meet with so many NOC AC members from across the African continent, and to see how passionate they are about becoming even more effective and active in 2023 and beyond. I look forward to seeing so many of their exciting projects come to fruition this year.”

First ever ANOCA AC election

The ANOCA AC also held its first election during the forum, with 12 athletes elected by forum participants to form a new-look ANOCA AC. Gaby Ahrens (Namibia, shooting) and Victoire Ngon Ntame (Cameroon, volleyball) were elected as Chair and Vice-Chair respectively by their fellow Commission members, and will represent athletes from across the continent directly as part of the ANOCA Executive Board.

Following her election as Chair of the ANOCA AC, Gaby said: “It is an honour to be elected Chair of the ANOCA AC and have the trust of my fellow athletes to represent them at the highest level of decision-making in our continent.”

Dedicated ANOCA staff to support AC

ANOCA President Mustapha Berraf announced during the forum that a dedicated member of staff would be allocated by ANOCA to provide support and assistance to the ANOCA AC and the NOC ACs in Africa.

Outgoing Interim ANOCA AC Chair Paul Tergat thanked ANOCA President Berraf for his trust in appointing him as the Interim Chair of the AC, and for the support provided to the athletes: “I am extremely grateful to ANOCA and President Berraf for the opportunity entrusted to me as the Interim Chair to organise the first ever election for the ANOCA Athletes’ Commission. With this newly elected Commission, I’m confident the voice of African athletes will be represented effectively at the highest level within ANOCA and beyond.”

Athlete representatives’ commitments

Following the two days of presentations, breakouts and panel discussions, the outcome of the  ANOCA Athletes’ Forum were as follows:

  1. Increase the effectiveness and capacity of ACs in Africa by making use of the NOC AC Activity Grant to deliver projects for their athletes.
  2. Work together with stakeholders in the country, such as the NOC and National Federations, to ensure athletes are supported and represented effectively.
  3. Leverage the support and programmes from the IOC and Athlete365 and promote these to athletes in Africa.
  4. Provide a dedicated member of staff from ANOCA to support and assist the ANOCA AC and the NOC ACs in Africa.
  5. Approval of a statement by the African ACs that all athletes have a right to participate in international competitions without any form of discrimination. In this context, the African ACs unanimously supported the right of athletes with Russian or Belarusian passports to compete in international events as strictly neutral athletes.