IOF pioneers virtual General Assembly

IOF has successfully held its first virtual General Assembly (GA), becoming one of the first international sport federations to hold a major international meeting in this way; the meeting attracted interest from many other sports organisations. A record number of IOF member federations were represented; 57 member nations had registered their intention to take part, an increase of some 30% on previous numbers at a GA.

Key decisions
The GA approved important and far-reaching Statutes changes covering membership of the IOF, gender balance, athlete representation on the IOF Council and virtual Orienteering – more details of these will be published separately. Additionally there was unanimous approval of an IOF Council Resolution reinforcing the basic values of Fair Play in Orienteering, and the need to stay true to the IOF Code of Ethics.

Reflections on the period 2018-2020
In analysing the IOF’s achievements in the 2 years since the last GA, IOF President Leho Haldna highlighted two very positive developments: the total number of people taking part in Orienteering has increased markedly, helped by the growing success of World Orienteering Day, and TV and Livestream viewing of World Championships and World Cup events has increased by 28%. TV rights sales increased by 44% over this period.

Haldna commented on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Orienteering: there have been widespread IOF Event cancellations, and IOF finances have been significantly affected. On the other hand, “there has been an explosive development in eOrienteering in different formats, and there may be some benefit long-term for Orienteering if social distancing becomes the new reality,” he said. He noted that the IOF Council and its Commissions had continued their work by video-conferencing: “it is an IOF goal to have more high-quality and regular meetings with a reduced carbon footprint.” Certainly, far more work in IOF will be done by digital contact in the future.

The need to re-emphasise IOF’s fundamental values, and to give highest priority to event quality, were seen as evident in the 2-year period. Concluding his remarks, Haldna identified three notable ‘wins’ in the period: a very successful WOC2019, inclusion of SkiO in the FISU Winter Universiade, and our identification as ‘best-governed international federation’ by GAISF.

Membership changes
The GA approved Greece, Nepal and Thailand as full members, whilst the membership of Ecuador has terminated. New Provisional Members are Costa Rica and Philippines, and the Provisional Memberships of Cameroon and Uganda have terminated. The GA agreed that the Dominican Republic continues as a Provisional Member. IOF now has 74 member federations in all.

Resolutions from member nations
The Czech Republic accepted an IOF Council amendment to their proposal concerning the IOF Event Calendar. The GA agreed with the Council that the Event Calendar needs to be finalised 2 years in advance, unless external circumstances force changes.

Banning of fluorinated ski waxes “as soon as practically possible”, a proposal initially from Norway and amended by Council, was approved by the GA.

Activity Plan, Membership Fees and Budget
The Activity Plan for the next 2 years, covering a wide variety of development areas and with special emphasis on the creation of educational tools for mappers, organisers and trainers/coaches, was approved.

Membership fees for the next 2 years and a revised budget, taking into account present circumstances, were presented and approved.

The new IOF Council
Leho Haldna and Astrid Waaler Kaas were re-elected as President and Vice President of the IOF respectively, and the following were elected or re-elected as members of the Council: Vincent Frey FRA, Jürg Hellmüller SUI, Linda Take SWE and Laszlo Zentai HUN. Vice Presidents Mike Dowling AUS and Tatiana Kalenderoglu RUS and Council members Hannu Kottonen FIN, Dusan Vystavel CZE and Dominic Yue HKG are in the middle of their 4-year term. Retiring members of Council are Owe Fredholm SWE and Nik Suter SUI.

Awards of Honour
At every General Assembly, Awards of Honour (IOF Pins) are awarded to individuals who have provided significant service to the IOF. This year, Silver Pins are awarded to Alexander Bliznevski, Håkan Blomgren, Mike Dowling, Owe Fredholm and Olli Heinonen, and Bronze Pins to Christer Carlsson, Thierry Jeanneret, Helge Lang Pedersen and Nik Suter.

The next General Assembly will be a hybrid meeting (physical + digital), provisionally on 2nd July 2022 along with WOC 2022 in Denmark.

The meeting was conducted without a hitch technically and proved to be a successful way of conducting the business.