New Zealanders have been acknowledged for their contribution to the global sporting movement today in Buenos Aires.  

BMX Olympic silver medallist and IOC Athletes’ Commission Member Sarah Walker led the development of the ground-breaking Athletes’ Rights and Responsibilities Declaration which was endorsed at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires today, while IOC Member and Olympic gold medallist Barry Maister was awarded the prestigious Olympic Order on the eve of his retirement from the IOC this year.

Maister Awarded Prestigious Olympic Order 

Known for his honesty and straight talking, Maister has been formally acknowledged by the IOC President Thomas Bach with the IOC"s highest honour, the Olympic Order.

He was recognised for his integrity, hard work, experience and wisdom in front of the 100 strong membership today at the conclusion of the IOC Session in Buenos Aires, coinciding with the third edition of the Youth Olympic Games. 

The award comes after nine years as a prominent IOC Member and having reached the official age of 70 at which IOC Membership comes to an end. 

Maister said today's announcement was a total surprise and honour. He believes that being a New Zealander has stood him in good stead within the global sporting community.

“You don’t go into the Olympic movement to be tangibly rewarded for your efforts, but I am proud to accept the award as it reflects the integrity and respect shown towards the many New Zealanders currently making a difference in international sport and the Olympic Movement.

“We’re seen as honest brokers, not after personal gain or reward and people respect us for that,” he said.

Maister was part of the 1976 New Zealand hockey team that took home gold from the Montreal Olympic Games. He is also a former head of the New Zealand Olympic Committee. 

“Having been an athlete, myself contributing to the IOC Sports Commission has been a highlight, contributing to the discussion on what sports are in, and out, of the Olympic Games.

Both rugby sevens and golf were added to the Olympic programme under Maister’s watch.

“My work on the IOC Education Commission has also been important to me and I’ve seen some of the valuable information and research we’ve developed being incorporated into IOC work and ensure the focus on youth and education through sport is not lost.”

“If I had my time again? I’d learn another language,” he concluded. “How to manage groups operating in multiple languages and multiple cultures has been something I’m pleased I’ve had the opportunity to develop.”

While his formal relationship with the IOC finishes this year, Maister’s extensive skills and experience are likely to continue to be called upon within the wider Olympic movement. The New Zealand Olympic Committee hopes to see him continue to play a role in supporting projects and commissions in the future. 

Maister will be presented with the Olympic Order's silver collar featuring the Olympic Rings and flanked by laurel leaves at the next IOC Session in 2019. 

Athletes Rights and Responsibilities Declaration Steering Committee Chaired by New Zealand's Sarah Walker 

New Zealand's Sarah Walker has played an integral role in the development and implementation the Athletes Rights and Responsibilities Declaration, endorsed by the IOC today in Buenos Aires.

Her achievement saw her bring together the views of some 4200 athletes across 190 countries to produce a declaration that covers topics including anti-doping, integrity, governance, due process, harassment and abuse.

As Chair of the Steering Group that implemented Athletes’ Rights and Responsibility Declaration, said she was incredibly proud to have been part of a document that will empower and support athletes and represents their voices. “It’s a massive moment for athletes,” she said.

“This is a historic moment, but it is only the beginning and we are committed to encourage ongoing dialogue across the global athlete community.”

Walker was praised for her leadership at the session.

“It was amazing hearing all the positive comments, she said. “I was really proud that so many people could contribute and I really just did my best to include as many different perspectives as possible. I was so pleased that the entire Steering Committee could play a role in bringing this to life”

“Our work was presented not long after Barry Maister’s Olympic Order was announced and I was already really proud of him. To then have the work I was part of come straight after was amazing. I felt it was kind of a joint effort and to see New Zealand representatives being acknowledged on the world’s stage was really special.”

Maister himself commented on Walker's achievements, noting her determination, capability and inclusive working style. 

The New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Athletes' Commission will now review the international document and provide recommendations and feedback to the New Zealand Olympic Committee board.

Sarah Walker is a member of both the New Zealand Athletes’ Commission and New Zealand Olympic Committee board.

The New Zealand Olympic Committee is committed to including the athletes voice across all aspects of its organisation and decision-making structures.  

New Zealand Olympian, former Athlete Commission Chair, NZOC Board member and current Olympians Commission member Chantal Brunner was also a member of the Athletes' Declaration Steering Committee. 

Full information on the Athletes Rights and Responsibilities Declaration can be found here.

More information on New Zealanders international representation and athlete engagement can be found here.

Bios for Barry Maister and Sarah Walker

More information on the IOC Session in Buenos Aires can be found here.

Sarah Walker Barry Maister
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