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“It’s about our future”: German athletes want more influence

“It’s about OUR FUTURE”
German athletes want more influence

The Athletes Germany are something like the political arm of Germany’s top athletes. With a new president, the association is facing old challenges, not just sporting ones: Above all, the relationship with its own umbrella organization urgently needs to improve.

The time of confrontation with the German Olympic Sports Confederation should come to an end for the Athletes Germany Association. “It’s no secret that it wasn’t a love affair right from the start,” said Johannes Herber, Managing Director of Athletes Germany, after the digital general meeting. We need an honest dialogue about the goals and a clear division of tasks. “It would be our ideal to achieve an open and honest relationship with the umbrella organization of German sports.”

However, the athlete representatives also want to be involved in important discussions and decisions – such as the new staffing of the DOSB. “It’s about our future, the athletes should come first”, demanded the beach volleyball player Karla Borger after the election as the new president of Athleten Deutschland. “We put our love and our hearts into the sport. It would make sense to involve the athletes.”

Search for president without the athletes

Her predecessor at the head of the now 1400 member interest group, Max Hartung, had already criticized the fact that the athletes were not involved in the search for a successor to the controversial DOSB President Alfons Hörmann.

Many challenges await the 32-year-old successor to the successful saber fencer and founding president. After the worst performance at the Olympic Games in Tokyo since German reunification, this includes a critical analysis of the top-level sports reform. “We have to ask ourselves where competitive sport stands in our society,” said Borger.

Athletes in Germany will quickly be challenged before and during the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in February. Due to the corona pandemic, there will be strict restrictions for athletes there. Human rights in China and the athletes’ freedom of expression at the Games could also spark discussions. Herber does not expect that potential Olympic starters will lose their appetite for the Beijing Games in the face of these problems: “Nonetheless, it remains a career highlight and a lifelong dream.”

“Voice raised sometimes”

Another major project is the establishment of a center for safer sport as an independent contact point for victims of abuse. Climate protection and the foreseeable changes resulting from it for sport and for athletes will also become increasingly important.

Borger sees the fact that she “raised her voice” this year and “stood up for the rights of the athletes” as one of the reasons for her election victory. With her volleyball partner Julia Sude, the vice world champion from 2013 protested against clothing regulations at the tournament in Doha / Qatar at the beginning of the year. The athletes shouldn’t play there in their usual bikini, but with a T-shirt and knee-length trousers.

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