The Athletes Commisssion

Jani Tanskanen (FIN)


Q: What was the work of the Athletes’ Commission about in the past cycle and what were its major accomplishments?


Jani: The major goal of the Athletes’ Commission is and has to be to create a link between the active gymnasts and the decision-making bodies of the FIG. Mainly the athlete representatives give feedback in the Technical Committee (TC) of their respective discipline regarding specific rules. We had varied success here in the different disciplines in the past cycle. In some disciplines we had very active representatives who were able to connect with the athletes either face-to-face at World Championships or via social media and to listen to their ideas and remarks that they then took to their TCs. When the Athletes’ Commission meets once a year, we discuss the decisions that have been made in the Executive Committee (EC), but we still have to improve the communication within our commission before the EC meetings, so that I am updated on the athletes’ perspective on the topics of the agenda.


I think we have accomplished a lot in the past cycle, such as the voting right for each athlete representative within their respective TCs. We have also been able to strengthen the position of the Athletes’ Commission within the FIG. Compared to other International Federations, we seem to be doing very well. However, our standard must be the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Athletes’ Commission that is leading the way. We are cooperating with them and we are on the right track, but we can still learn a lot from them.


Q: One of the big challenges seems to be the communication flow with current athletes. How do you want to tackle this?


Jani: Social media is definitely something that we will be using to keep in contact with the athletes directly. We have seen that often information coming from the FIG directed towards athletes or coaches is not dispatched by the national federations who seem to be bottlenecked in this. Also, we never receive feedback from the athletes through their national federations, so we need to find out the best way to communicate directly with them. We need to get the answer from the gymnasts themselves. They are part of a new generation and we need to adapt to them in order to communicate effectively with them. This will be on my agenda during the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing this year as well as during our World Championships.


Q: What are your expectations of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing?


Jani: I had my first experience with the Youth Olympic Games at their inaugural edition in Singapore and I was pleasantly surprised how well the concept of including Culture and Educational Programmes worked during the Games. I had the opportunity to meet many young athletes from all over the world in Singapore and they were all enthusiastic about it. We, as the Athlete Role Models (ARM), gave our feedback and suggestions to the IOC and I am sure they have been taken into account for Nanjing. So, I think, it will be even better this year. The event will be very well organised and I expect it to be magnificent.


Q: What is the importance of athletes’ education in the work of the FIG Athletes’ Commission?


Jani: I feel the educational aspect of the Athlete Commission’s work is still limited at this point in time and I wish to do a lot more. Some of the educational topics and issues are so wide in a global, geopolitical, economic and cultural sense, that it is difficult for the commission to act directly in regards to the athletes.


My personal philosophy is to meet and discuss with the athletes as much as I can in order to achieve something for them together with them.


Q: What are your goals for your second term as President of the FIG Athletes’ Commission?


Jani: The main things I would like to achieve this cycle are to continue to strengthen the commission’s position within the organization and to come up with an effective way to communicate with the athletes. All this while constantly trying to meet with the athletes as often as possible and to ask for their feedback. The athletes are the ones who set the goals for our work.


I am very happy with our group of athlete representatives, who are all very enthusiastic and motivated to do the work. This is the most important prerequisite in order to accomplish our goals.


Interview with

Jani Tanskanen (FIN)