The IOF has approved a series of statute changes ©IOF

The International Orienteering Federation (IOF) has outlined statute changes which are expected to lead to increased athlete representation and gender balance within the organisation.

All of the changes were approved during the IOF General Assembly, which was held virtually.

The governing body confirmed two athlete representatives are now set to join the IOF Council, with one spot per gender.

The Council currently consists of the IOF President, three vice-presidents and seven other members.

The IOF said the addition of two athlete representatives comes after the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) said that governance could be improved with the direct involvement of athletes within the decision-making process.

Member federations and the current Athletes' Commissions were found to have strong support for the idea, with the IOF Council now set to determine a process to implement the move.

This is set to involve finalising a formal election process for the Athletes' Commissions, as well as the appointment of athlete representatives to the Council and to Discipline Commissions.

The first elections of athlete representatives are expected to occur in connection with the next World Championships in the respective orienteering disciplines.

The IOF currently has four Athletes' Commissions, representing each of the disciplines overseen by the governing body.

The IOF has also targeted an increase in the gender balance of its Council, with nine positions under the 2018 to 2020 Council held by men and only two by women.

Eight men and three women feature on the newly elected Council.

The IOF received approval for the number of minimum spots per gender to be raised from two to three at the General Assembly, with the governing body saying it had twice made the same proposal but it had not been approved after voting.

A Norwegian Orienteering Federation request that the proposal be amended to strike the words "nominations permitting" was approved by the General Assembly.

Under the statute change, should there not be enough nominations, seats on Council may remain empty until the next election.

The IOF added that gender balance and diversity are still topics for further action and improvement.

Two athlete representatives are set to join the IOF Council ©IOF
Two athlete representatives are set to join the IOF Council ©IOF

The governing body has also changed the criteria to become a member association, saying its strategy has moved towards establishing sustainable members.

The IOF noted there has been previous effort from International Federations to secure as many members as possible.

The current focus is on recruiting and assisting members which are attempting to develop the sport in their country, and will participate in IOF activities over time.

A statute change which will enable organisations to become provisional members without the recognition of the national sports body was approved, provided they are a properly registered organisation and can show proof of good governance and development of the sport.

It is hoped this will allow organisations to focus on developing the sport, with each having six years to achieve national recognition and become a regular IOF member.

The move is designed to prevent a situation where organisations require membership of the IOF to receive national recognition, yet require national recognition to become a full IOF member.

The IOF has added that an application fee is now a further requirement which has been included for organisations applying for membership.

The governing body said the fee will serve as a good measure of how serious an organisation is about applying for membership and developing the sport in their country.

A statute to include esports as a potential IOF discipline had also been approved, with the governing body noting how the coronavirus pandemic has shown how an electronic version of orienteering could be "very attractive".

Further consultation with IOF members regarding development paths is now expected to take place.