JWOC 2019, an important milestone for Ethics work

In just over one month, the 2019 Junior World Orienteering Championships will take place in Denmark. Since 1990, JWOC is one of the highlights of the annual IOF event calendar, as many developing athletes get their first experiences of international competition. But equally important in the objectives for the event is creating a strong social environment to encourage the building of friendships across national boundaries. The IOF therefore takes very seriously that JWOC has come under scrutiny regarding ethical values and has taken steps over the past 2 years to address the issue.

The background is that shortly prior to JWOC 2017 a participant had been in contact with the IOF regarding historical practices which the participant felt were not in line with the ethical
values of the IOF and could potentially be considered sexual harassment. Actions were taken by the IOF in connection with JWOC 2017 and some progress had been made among member federations with ethical values education following the event. However, in connection with JWOC 2018, similar practices were once again encountered and a report regarding potential violations to the Code of Ethics had been addressed to the Ethics Commission.

The IOF Ethics Commission had in fact found that violations to the Code of Ethics had occurred at JWOC 2018, but  the Commission had chosen not to apply sanctions. It had instead encouraged the Council to complete its work with a Policy regarding the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse and work with information and education. The Council completed its work and the Policy was officially introduced in connection with the IOF General Assembly 2018 in Prague.

At the General Assembly 2018 the IOF Council presented the approved IOF Policy on Preventing Sexual Harassment and Abuse in Orienteering. To further strengthen the commitment to this work by member federations the General Assembly agreed on a resolution with the following wording:

The members of the International Orienteering Federation resolve to:
• Uphold the orienteering values of inclusiveness and ethical behaviour by encouraging our own members to show respect for individual differences and preferences.
• Abide by the IOF Policy on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse and educate our own members about the same.
• Adhere to the IOF Code of Ethics and embrace the good governance of our sport.

The above Policy and Resolution are very much a result of the unfortunate happenings, and historical culture with connotations of sexual harassment, around the Junior World Orienteering Championships, so this years JWOC in Denmark is an important milestone to assess progress made towards changing attitudes among athletes and encouraging member federations actions.

With JWOC approaching the IOF would like to take the opportunity to remind all member federations of the above commitments and to take appropriate actions to prepare their teams participating at JWOC. This to make JWOC a positive experience for all participants and to avoid potential future sanctions for similar breaches as were found at JWOC in 2018.

Links to a number of background documents and materials:

IOF Policy on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment and Abuse
Link to JWOC 2019 Bulletin 3 (Special attention should be given to the section regarding “Code of Ethics” og page 14 of the Bulletin)
Ruling from the IOF Ethics Commission regarding JWOC 2018

Background and tutorial information from the International Olympic Committee regarding Preventing Sexual Harassment and Abuse