International work

We let athletes do what they do best – compete. We influence where decisions are made, putting responsibility first. 

When the international sports community makes a move, Finland feels the ripples – for better or worse. By actively participating in promoting responsible and sustainable sports, we can secure the future of physical activity and sports. Together, we aim to build bridges internationally, ensuring Finland is a successful sports nation where more and more people are active. We let athletes compete and offer support to those who want to engage in advocacy work. We influence where decisions are made – with responsibility at the forefront. 

We want to be on the move as a united front with our members and collaborate closely with national Olympic committees that share our goals. We encourage the sports community to engage in international knowledge exchange. We influence where decisions are made – with responsibility first. 

Some topics we are frequently asked about

We actively take a stance on current sports policy issues, participate in discussions, and influence decisions, especially through our memberships.

  • We participate in or seek involvement in various international committees or working groups, influencing through these channels. Additionally, we engage in several informal networks where experts exchange information on current issues.
  • We encourage our member organizations to support our positions. When necessary, we form joint positions. Sports federations influence through their own international federations, positions, meetings, or international relations.
  • We provide our members with information, tools, and support on international matters through executive director briefings and workshops.
  • We engage in continuous Nordic cooperation through webinars and active communication.
  • We exchange information with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, embassies, the Ministry of Education and Culture, and similar entities.
  • We regularly meet or discuss with key decision-makers in the Olympic movement.

The Finnish Olympic Committee believes that freedom of opinion and expression is a fundamental right for athletes. Athletes have full freedom to express their opinions on any matter – or to choose not to express them.

For advocacy work and decision-making, the Olympic Committee has experts, elected officials, and an operational management team. If an athlete wants to participate in advocacy work or take a stand, we provide support for this. At the same time, we want to guarantee the right to focus solely on sports for those athletes who wish to do so.

Currently, there are several difficult situations in world politics that are about matters larger than sports. In its international advocacy work, the Finnish Olympic Committee follows the guidelines that Finland as a state adheres to in international politics; we strive to promote peace, democracy, and understanding and to influence matters by participating in international sports communities.

In several international situations, the participation of different countries in international sports is decided by international sports organizations or, in the case of the Olympics, by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Finnish Olympic Committee does not have voting rights or decision-making power in these organizations, but we hope that the decisions of sports organizations align with the guidelines of international communities such as the UN and the EU.

On almost all current international issues related to sports or those that are deemed to potentially impact sports, we engage in discussions with our key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other Nordic countries.

The international geopolitical situation is constantly changing, and the question of boycotting a country or event in various contexts regularly arises in discussions. 

The Finnish Olympic Committee has historically avoided all boycotts, as our policy is to influence matters by participating in the international sports community rather than by staying outside of it. For the Finnish Olympic Committee to consider a boycott, it would require broader international support behind it. 

The Finnish Olympic Committee maintains regular dialogue with Finland’s state leadership, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and other key authorities. To date, we have made—and will continue to make—our decisions in very close cooperation with our most important reference groups, namely the Finnish government and the other Nordic Olympic Committees. 

Where Does the Finnish Olympic Committee Exert Influence?

We influence decisions through our memberships in various international committees or working groups. Additionally, we actively seek involvement in informal networks where experts exchange information on current issues. Here are some examples of the places and positions through which we exert influence:

International Memberships and Positions

The Finnish Olympic Committee actively influences the Olympic movement and international organizations through its memberships. We exert influence in places and positions where key decisions regarding sports and athletics are made. We believe that by working together and forming a united front, we can achieve the greatest impact.

The Finnish Olympic Committee’s international positions in 2023:

Emma Terho
Member of the IOC Executive Board
Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission
Member of the following committees:
Olympic Programme (2018-)
Olympic Solidarity (2022-)
Legal Commission (2020-2022)
Marketing Commission (2020-2022)
Games Optimization Group (2022-)
Wada Athletes Commission (2018-)
Wada Foundation Board (2018-)
Safeguarding Working Group (2023-)
EOC Athletes Commission Ex-officio (2023-)
IPC Athletes Commission Ex-officio (2023-)

Sari Essayah
Member of the IOC
Member of the following committees:
Sustainability and Legacy (2016-)
Digital and Technology (2017-)
Coordination for the Games of the XXXIV Olympiad Los Angeles 2028 (2019-)
Member of the International Masters Games Association (IMGA) board

Sari Rimpiläinen
Member of the Milano-Cortina Olympic Games 2026 NOC Engagement Group

Elina Laine, Member of the EOC Sustainability and Active Society Committee
Niina Toroi, Member of the EOC Gender Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee
Juha Viertola, Member of the EOC Ethics Committee

Petri Heikkinen, Board member and Treasurer of EASE (European Association of Sport Employers)
Matleena Livson, Member of HEPA Europe Sport Clubs for Health working group
Kaisa Larjomaa, Member of ENGSO EU Advisory Board
Saga Yli-Hannuksela, Board member of ENGSO Youth
Tarja Krum, Member of the ENGSO Equality Within Sport Committee on behalf of the Finnish Olympic Committee

Niina will help you if needed

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