Next weekend, on 19-20 January, the IOF Council and the Commissions are meeting in Warsaw for the regular annual IOF joint meeting. The short common program contains an interesting topic: IOF Finances.
This is a most interesting development for several reasons. The IOF leadership was not particularly interested in talking about finances before. They did not present anything even on the Presidents’ Conference in July 2017. Despite the IOF finances being on a knife edge the leadership just sent a letter to members July 2017 a week later to explain that they were handling financial issues since october 2016. It makes you wonder what happened that now they decided to talk about finances.
What makes it even more interesting is that the audience of this joint meeting has little to do with finances. There will be 60 or so participants invited to discuss commission matters and meet the Council for half a day. The participants are delegated to different commissions who have rather technical mandates from discipline development through mapping standards to environmental protection. They are not representing member federations. Few of the participants have relevant business background to understand finances.
In financially distressed companies management typically starts to talk about finances to technical people when they see the possibility of a financial meltdown right around the corner. We have to follow these developments closely. I will share with you any information I receive as soon as they become available.
On 7 December the President of the IOF has published his thoughts on matters critical to quality of major events. These were refreshing thoughts, albeit somewhat unexpected, that emphasised core qualities of orienteering events like quality of maps and course setting.
“For me, CTQ at IOF major events are maps, course setting, punching and timekeeping. Of course, there are also important areas like event arenas, logistics, accommodation, ceremonies etc. at big events. But if we fail in CTQ areas, the event will be remembered forever!”
For a moment one could hope that the IOF leadership has realised what are the things organisers should focus on when staging major international orienteering events.
Yet, when we try to match the words of the President with the obligations put on organisers by the IOF, we see a mammoth gap between the two.
Mismatch between talk and action is not alien to the IOF leadership as I showed in the post about the 2024 Olympic ambitions. This is the second part of the talk vs action series.
Below I show some examples of mismatch based on the IOF Event Application documents released late 2017. That was about the time when the wise words of the President were published. Unfortunately, neither the detailed formal evaluation of applicants, nor the explicit and often contractual obligations match the words of the President.
That is really pity. In case of organisations, especially of organisations built on the effort of volunteers, matching words and actions is the single most critical feature of leadership quality.
Continue reading “Critical to Quality – Talk vs Action – Part 2”
There were some fascinating developments over the past couple of weeks around the practical implementation of the IOF’s Olympic vision, and we could get additional insights both into the position of our favourite sport on the world scene and the real level of commitment of the IOF’s leadership.
Just a quick reminder to those sane people who spend their “orienteering time” training and competing instead of reading IOF publications: The vision of the IOF is that orienteering shall be a truly global sport and included in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This was taken so seriously as recently as January this year, that Mikko, one of the Vice Presidents, requested volunteer commission members to leave the plenary session of the joint IOF meeting if they did not believe in the Olympic dream. He did so before the discussion on the IOF’s strategy, including the Olympic vision. Several participants confirmed that it did not sound like a joke, but a clear suggestion that simply devoting your time, expertise and energies to orienteering is not enough for the IOF’s leadership. You are no good for the IOF, if you do not believe in the Olympic vision.
Yet, when it comes to implementation of the Olympic vision, we can observe something that feels like a refreshingly quiet passivity that may signify a more rational approach by the IOF leadership.
Apparently the initiative to start working on an application for Paris came from the FFCO, the French Orienteering Federation. The public announcement that orienteering becomes a candidate sport for 2024 was made with no IOF representation. There was not even a news item on the IOF website about the FFCO announcement on the meeting with the President of the Paris 2024 organisers. It feels like a stark contrast to the devotion to the Olympic dream expected by Mikko from everybody in the IOF structure.
Of course, this quiet passivity may be the sign of acknowledging reality. L’Équipe, the French sports daily, ran a survey about the three sports people expect to be on the Olympic program in 2024. Orienteering did not make it to the 12 sports to choose from.
The question is whether we see a changing IOF strategy, or a confirmation that the Olympic dream is just a pipedream.
Or could it happen that simply no more money left in the IOF beyond spending on essential tasks?
Continue reading “Olympic Ambitions 2024 – Talk vs Action”
It is most interesting that Leho Haldna, the IOF President, felt the need to publish an article that can only be interpreted as an attempt to defend the IOF’s participation on The World Games in the name of the Olympic Dream, and to express his regret that “Unfortunately not all federations and athletes are supporting our common goal”.
Leho’s assertion is that “Our athletes and federations have to realise that the road to the Olympics is via The World Games, and The World Games are the highest level multi-sport event recognised by IOC where orienteering is on the programme.”
Let’s put aside the question whether inclusion in the Olympics would be beneficial to orienteering or not. It is a rather interesting one, but almost never discussed, so we will devote a separate post to that. Here we shall look at the facts regarding the Olympic and World Game programs, whether they support the notion that “the road to the Olympics is via The World Games”.
New sports on the permanent Olympic program since 2000
It seems that when IOC officials told Leho that “the World Games is a window for non-Olympic sport federations to present their sport to the IOC and in case the IOC feels the sport will fit into Olympic Games (OG) programme, then there is a chance to be selected for the OG”, they forgot to tell this to the managers of BMX sports and 3-on-3 basketball. They simply managed to get their sports on the permanent Olympic programme.
Continue reading “The World Games – way or no way to the Olympics?”
I have decided to write this blog because I am concerned about the future of the International Orienteering Federation, and thus the future of international orienteering. There are serious strategic, financial, organizational and moral issues faced by the IOF. I felt the internal discussions to be limited, and critical feedback to be discouraged by the leadership. I am afraid that without change the IOF may go down the path of other disgraced international sports federations.
I resigned from my position in the IOF seeing no chance to bring meaningful improvement – and often not even meaningful discussion – within the existing structures.
I had served for 6 years on the IOF Mountain Bike Orienteering Commission, the second largest orienteering discipline after Foot Orienteering, 4 of which as Chairman. I saw many things that made me concerned about the future of international orienteering as a whole, not just about individual disciplines. I tried to change things from the inside, in most cases to no avail. I finally resigned seeing no chance to bring meaningful improvement – and often not even meaningful discussion – within the existing structures. You can read my resignation letter here, the follow up discussion in the MTBO Group on facebook on, and my “exit interview” on the Portuguese Orienteering blog.
Continue reading “Why did I start to write this blog”