Wind of Change

History and the future outlook does not support chasing the Dream of Communism Olympic participation told the Politburo Council to the local party leaders Presidents of Member Federations.

The importance of this statement went almost unnoticed in 1986 2021 on the biennial meeting that was typically embalmed in polite boredom. Few realised how significant changes might lure just behind the corner, when (and if) they were still alert at slide 90 of the presentation of the Presidents’ Conference

It is difficult to compare this change in the IOF’s strategic direction to anything less than the Перестройка lead by Gorbachev in the Soviet Union. The Olympic Dream was the undisputable anchor point of the IOF Strategy for decades despite the honest admission in 1992 by the IOF President of 1988-94 that it was a hopeless effort. Until very recently the inclusion in the Olympic Games was a focus area for the IOF. The newly elected Council member in 2020 felt the need to declare that in the next 4 years she “would like to see one of the disciplines become an Olympic sport”. The Leibnitz Convention setting the goal to get to the Olympic Games is even part of the IOF competition rules.

Only four years ago, the Finnish Vice President of the IOF, at the time, called everybody who was not fully committed to the Olympic Vision to leave the session of the Council – Commissions joint meeting on IOF Strategy. Seven of the eleven members of the current Council were present, including the President and two Vice Presidents who still hold those positions. None of them voiced their concerns about the aggressive imposition of the Olympic Dream on the IOF strategy discussion. Just like before Perestroika no party official would have voiced any concerns when an aggressive apparatchik declared that people who did not believe in the Dream of Communism should leave a discussion on how to develop Russia.

Parallels to Perestroika

The parallels with the onset of Perestroika are numerous.

There is an emerging concern that the IOF strategy is not deliverable in scope, and particularly not with the resources available. Makes you wonder who proposed those strategic action plans to the General Assembly over the past two decades…

There is a sudden awakening that there is no clarity around the terms used in the most fashionable slogans of the IOF (cf. world peace; the victory of the proletariat; workers of the world, unite!, etc).

There is an emerging understanding that the decade long “professionalization” of the IOF (and the corresponding alienation of volunteers) leads to difficulties when the money runs out.

These concerns must have been amplified by the lack of qualified applicants to replace the CEO/GenSec who announced his retirement earlier this year. It is unclear whether there were any qualified applicants for the re-announced split positions, but that would be a rather pleasant surprise.

When there are little funds left, it is time to attract volunteers, as it happened before when the delivery of great ambitions got slowed down due to a shortage of resources.

Perestroika – is reliance on the natural creativity of the masses

The future is bright

Before launching the full fledged Perestroika in 1987, Gorbachev was a member of the Central Committee (i.e. the party elite) from 1971, Secretary of the Central Committee from 1978, and the leader of the Party from 1985.

The President of the IOF has been a member of the Council since 2002, Vice President since 2010, and President since 2016. With all this experience (including his personal exposure to Perestroika), he is perfectly positioned to reassess the situation of the IOF, point out the mistakes of the past, re-energise the organisation, and set a new strategy for the development of international orienteering.

We shall have all the confidence that the re-evaluation of the IOF strategic direction will be a resounding success.

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