Stanislav Pozdnyakov: We will use the experience of the COVID-19 period for the benefit of future sports generations

02.07.2020 20:51


The world is slowly getting back to normal after the coronavirus lockdown. We are returning back on track, waiting for the resumption of active sports life and express our sincere thanks to all the health care professionals who keep fighting for people's health and lives, placing their own on the line...
For the humankind it is a global test that is bringing back the understanding and showing the importance of core values like unity, fellowship, respect for each other, and care for the family and friends to many people.

Any crisis is not only a driver to promptly react by a resolution and reduce risks and losses, it is also a window of new opportunities. It is a situation where thinking out of the box and innovative approaches are sometimes the most effective.
Of course, we have to stay more than attentive and carefully follow the recommendations of the WHO and with due consideration of National Governments’ and NOCs’ conditions and measures in order to prevent the spread of the virus or a repeated breakout.
During these months of quarantine and self-isolation, we all refreshed our knowledge of elementary personal hygiene rules, became more attentive to ourselves and others. Gained better understanding of what is a common interest.

Most of our NFs we are slowly getting back to a certain normality except those where national governments have selected alternative approaches to handle the pandemic... 
It is true that public sector and businesses in countries of Europe heavily affected earlier this year by the pandemic like Belgium, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Sweden – to name a few – are currently in a challenging situation due to a combination of factors. We have solutions to offer in every aspect of our joint work – based on solidarity, friendship and respect.
Of course, we recognize that leaders in charge of those National Federations will most probably have to dedicate most of their time in the coming years to help bring their communities back to normality after the COVID-19 devastating impact.

The world of sports has almost completely switched to social media and online – that was very noticeable across the community in many other countries of Europe and in Russia as well. Athletes found the ways to benefit from forcedly interrupted competitive and training process through self-development and improvement, interacting with fans through a variety of opportunities offered by the Internet.

There was a clear trend: the demand from the audience was on top. So National Olympic Committees and National Federations together with their Athletes’ Commissions made their best to turn the online communication and interaction into an engaging, varied and most importantly useful and beneficial tool for the athletes and coaches as well as for the whole society.
Beyond any doubt any top-performance athlete and Olympian are role models for those who do sports and hold on to an active and healthy lifestyle. Their achievements inspire new generations to strive for accomplishments, transmit proper emotions and energy to the grassroot sports.

Another useful example of engagement and social activity in this challenging period – online education events by NADOs for athletes and their entourage. Famous athletes and champions casually shared their vision of sports and common values, anti-doping culture with their fans. Olympic hopefuls and champions, IOC Members, Chairs of the Athletes’ Commissions and opinion leaders took part – thus giving parents and young athletes an opportunity to get answers firsthand to so many questions.
Following the latest EFC Congress decision adopted in Düsseldorf, where our friend and colleague Claudia Bokel hosted us at an outstanding European Championships, the Ordinary and Elective EFC Congresses are scheduled to take place in Sochi (Russia) on September 12, 2020.

At the very moment Russia and other nations are gradually lifting the restrictions and resuming economic and social activities – including soccer championships, entertainment and travel industry – we, at the EFC, are also very cautiously following the improvements inside the country and abroad.
All preparations are proceeding in due course and we are in close contact with regional and municipal authorities to ensure the corresponding levels of delegates’ safety and representation. The international travel restrictions (inside and outside the EU) and other related issues are being carefully monitored on a regular basis.
Any official EFC meeting be that a COMEX or a Congress – are organized in strict compliance with good governance principles and actual legislation as well as the Statutory and other applicable requirements and regulations. We do our best to ensure that will be the case with the regular and elective Congresses closing the 2016-2020 quadrennium.
We should not forget about financial planning and adequate performance to ensure the necessary resources and proper allocation thereof in the best interest of all Member-Federations.
And yes – our agreement with the local provider has been timely updated to guarantee flexible terms in case of eventual changes of the date (which we all hope will not have to be activated).
Meanwhile, according to the results of a survey carried out by the EFC General Secretariat over 60% of EFC members are planning to resume the competitive activities including on the international level.

In either case as indicated above the EFC and the FIE are putting in place a set of measures to support our Member-Federations – including financially and in terms of assistance to the veterans of fencing who are the ones at the most risk nowadays.
During the pandemic, it has also become even more evident that family values come first. Many people have mentally and psychologically leveled up their relations with family and friends. This is also an important topic that should be considered. Together with partners NFs and NOCs use social media to launch different challenges dedicated to the topic (Family, Love and Faithfulness – in some countries there even is a special National Holiday – in Russia for example).
We want to unite people in their desire to play sports and especially fencing. With their whole family, leading an active lifestyle and staying involved in the Olympic and Sports movement.
We also support a bright campaign of our colleagues from the IOC – #StayStrong. For instance, on June 23, as part of the International Olympic Day athletes took part in numerous activities – a 24-hour Olympic training session and an online marathon – to name a few.

On behalf of the EFC COMEX I invite all our Member-Federations to take more active part and share your best practices and projects accomplished during these months.
Following the example of the IOC and IFs we are eager to spread the knowledge and practical information from our NFs for the benefit of all members and stakeholders.
We do hope that you will actively contribute to this initiative and your expertise will enable all the /less privileged/ members of our Confederation to benefit not only from substantial material support from the FIE and EFC generated resources but also from your empathy and lively online discussions.

All projects are relevant, so we are optimistic to continue developing the best of them in the future, whether or not there are any restrictions for offline activities and in person gatherings.
The future of our sport is in our hands and we should stay strong and healthy – above all. Pandemic impacted all sectors and spheres of human activity – not only sport or fencing in particular. But civil society and governments implement measures of support on all levels. That is particularly noticeable in the EU.

Likewise, not a single Member Federation asking for help is denied. But different stakeholders have different reasons and approaches. Our strength is in our diversity. So only united we can overcome the pandemic and offsets thereof. Populism and mere campaigning imitating assistance and care for the NFs should not replace daily common work.
Considering the variety of approaches and measures put in place across Europe, we encourage all our member-federations, clubs, and other European fencing stakeholders to take advantage of sharing the knowledge. Help to spread the ideas and solutions that have been designed and successfully implemented.

While guidance is provided on a National level – following the line of the Governments and WHO as well as the IOC and respective NOCs, leaders should guarantee the sufficient resources and instruments to provide all members of our Community with appropriate support. 

Of course, the world we will see after the pandemic won’t be the same.

Let us not forget that the COVID-19 issue will still be there.

For all of us the events of recent months represent a true challenge.

But working together European Fencing Family will overcome this.

I am confident.

And the return of sporting events, including the Olympic Games, is to become a symbol of the humankind’s victory over the disaster.

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy and be stronger than the adverse circumstances.
Be Active and see you soon!

Sincerely yours,
Stanislav Pozdnyakov
President, European Fencing Condfederation