A report from the IOF Council meeting and the work behind the scenes

Despite the challenges presented by the Covid-19 global pandemic, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes throughout the IOF organisation.

The Covid-19 global pandemic has had significant impact of the global sport scene. Events in all sports are being cancelled or postponed, most noteworthy is the historical decision to postpone the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 to 2021.

– For the past month the situation regarding international and national health authority restrictions due to the Covid-19 virus and the impact on international events has changed daily, and often even between morning and afternoon, according to IOF CEO Tom Hollowell.
– We have tried to be proactive in our contacts with organisers and member federations to get an understanding of the challenges they are facing and to make informed decisions about the overall program. I have experienced an enormous amount of good-will and understanding in a very uncertain situation.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 virus has caused significant difficulties in the scheduling of both national and international orienteering events in 2020. This was one of the key items that the IOF Council discussed at its digital meeting this past weekend. Council made a number of decisions about principles for future event scheduling for the next 1-3 years programs. In the recently published article IOF Future Events Program you will find the principles decided by the IOF Council and a summary report of the consultation to member federations and to the FootO Athletes Commission regarding their views on the scheduling of events in 2020 and 2021.

The IOF Council meeting was a digital meeting with all council members and office staff present. In all, 16 participants in 16 different physical locations in 11 countries across 5 time zones. The IOF President Leho Haldna is very satisfied with the outcome of the digital meeting.

– I think it was a very good meeting and our decisions followed a clear path in accordance with our strategic directions. Our decisions were largely based on feedback from our members and were guided by a long-term perspective. I was also encouraged by our use of technology to conduct a very well-prepared and effective meeting. I think that we in the future will look back at this meeting as being a milestone in improving our sustainability.

The IOF Council meeting minutes are published here

The potential effects of the Corona virus on IOF finances in 2020 was discussed at the meeting. Due to the cancelling of events the IOFs income during 2020 was expected to be reduced by 50 – 70%. The Council therefore discussed and agreed a set of necessary and immediate cost reduction actions. The most significant action is the 60% furloughing of IOF Office staff for the remainder of 2020.
– Obviously not holding events during 2020 will reduce the event related work and travel for the Office, says Tom Hollowell.
– We know that at some point in time the situation will return to normal and by agreeing a furlough arrangement with the staff we are able to keep the competency and experience of the staff intact. In the short term, we will do our best to answer all enquiries in a timely manner but hope for understanding that we may not always be able to respond as quickly as we would like.

Other cost reduction actions include reductions in infrastructure investments and travel. The cost reduction plan prioritises as far as possible maintaining support to communications and development projects among our members and commissions, while cutting operational costs.

Preparations for the 2020 General Assemby was another topic at the Council meeting. The General Assembly was planned to be held in connection with Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships in Denmark in July.  Both have now been postponed, and can hopefully be held in October. Council completed preparations for the General Assembly and meeting materials will be sent out in early May in accordance with the original schedule. Council also decided that if it is not possible to hold the General Assembly in October, it will plan on holding the General Assembly digitally.

During the meeting the IOF Council also advanced work in a number of other areas defined in the IOF Strategic Direction. It approved the definition of the new Event Quality Index aimed at gaining objective measures for the long-term quality improvement of IOF events. Council also approved a new IOF Social Media Strategy, received reports about the work going on towards creating an IOF Education Curriculum for IOF member development, about ongoing sub-regional development projects funded by the IOF and completed a revision of the IOF organisation structure.
These projects and activities are good examples of the work going on in IOF commissions and working groups. This work is not always very visible but will eventually lead to some interesting enhancements and improvements for IOF members and the orienteering community.
– The new IOF Social Media Strategy will hopefully contribute to the very active digital orienteering community that already exists in the social feed. A clear definition of the IOF channels and their targets will hopefully make the creation of content easier. The ambition is to improve both content, with a purpose to inspire and build a following, and the inspirational shareable content with a purpose to create long term relationships, says Malin Fuhr, communication officer at the IOF.

Despite the disappointment of having had to cancel or postpone all events for 2020 the IOF is very thankful for the cooperation with our member federations, event organisers, athletes and partner events.
– The IOF organisation is strong. The significant contribution from our volunteer resources and strong cooperation with our stakeholders is a real asset when we meet challenges as those posed by the Covid-19 virus pandemic, says President Leho Haldna.
– I hope that we will all emerge from this situation soon and with a renewed common purpose of developing the sport of orienteering locally and globally.

On orienteering.sport there is a new page where the latest Covid-19 news are collected: