Who is Who
Åke Jacobson, IOF President
WMOC 2008 will have a Sprint title for the first time. Why did the IOF decide to include it in the World Masters programme?
Visibility is a key issue for orienteering. In particular when the WMOC is held in conjunction with the World Masters Games, we have few possibilities to show to officials and the general public our sport, since the orienteering events most often are located apart from other events. The sprint provided a possibility to bring our sport to where most Masters Games participants, officials and spectators are. This is an important step in making orienteering more visible and hence more recognised as a world sport on the international sports arena.
Is it foolish to think that, in the future, WMOC can also have a Middle Distance race (as for WOC) and a Friendship Relay (as in the World Schools Championship)? Can you imagine a mass start with one thousand teams? (Something like a "veterans' Jukola "...)
The format of the WMOC will develop over time and depending on what the participants want. There are many factors to consider when changing or extending a championship programme, but the IOF has an open mind in this respect and wants to make the WMOC as popular as possible to participants, spectators, media, and the general public.
One orieenter interviewed in this page put the question: Why is WMOC in Australia for the 3rd time and the 2nd this century (1992, 2002, 2009)? We could put the question in a different way: Why Oceania for the 3rd time in ten years (2000, 2002, 2009)?
As you know, the WMOC is linked to the World Masters Games, so every fourth year we do not decide ourselves where the event is to be held. Australia has been very successful in winning the WMG to their country and subsequently the WMOC has been staged there twice already and will be so again in 2009. Very few IOF world events are held outside Europe and one of IOF's strategic objectives is to find hosts for world events outside Europe more frequently.
After two years with more than 4000 participants, Portugal will have about 3500. Do you have any suggestions for the reasons? - General decreasing? Insufficient promotion? Peripheral position? Economic crisis? Heat fear? Different reason?
I do not think that there is a general decrease in interest for the WMOC. There are fluctuations depending on the location of the event and also the competition from other events. We should not forget that the event programme is growing steadily giving not only masters a number of events to choose between every (European) summer season. We are very happy that the WMOC has stabilised its participation at the high level of 3 - 4000 participants.
Let's talk about orienteering in general. How many orienteers are there in the world at the moment? How many federations/countries? I read that in Sweden there were 66.300 active orienteers in 1998 and 65.305 in 2005, and in Finland there were 45.000 in 2002 and 42.000 in 2006. Is it true that the number of participants is slightly decreasing worldwide?
We have just passed 70 members in the IOF. Our sport is growing steadily and spreading geographically. Some may have hoped that this development should be faster but we are close to meeting our strategic target of 75 members, which was, at least in the past, an important milestone when it came to Olympic participation. We have not yet managed to define exactly what an 'active orienteer' is so figures from different parts of the world are difficult to compare. Our general feeling is that there is no overall decline in participation in orienteering events. In Sweden, for example, there is a slight decrease in club membership, but the number of participants in events is increasing (so again difficult to talk in general about figures).
Since 1996 IOF has made unsuccessful efforts to include orienteering in Olympic games, especially ski-orienteering. Two years ago, the International Olympic Committee decided against including this discipline in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Do you think it is a lost war? And what about Sprint, Short Relays, Micro-O? May they be more suitable for an Olympic format instead? What are now the IOF targets in Olympic dossier?
First of all we should not forget that there is a very tough competition to be on the programme of the Summer Olympic Games. Only 25 sports are on the programme and there is perhaps twice that number that would want to be there. The opportunities are slightly better when it comes to the Winter Olympic Games and that is also why the IOF has prioritised its efforts on ski-orienteering over the recent period of years. To improve our chances to be selected we have to succeed in making our sport more visible. Clearly that means more seen on TV and more often in all other kinds of media. But it also means that the level of development (from a qualitative point of view) has to improve world wide. The number of members in the IOF is important but more so what level of orienteering activity there is in these countries. The IOC recently had a comprehensive review of IOC recognised sports and orienteering was granted continued recognition.
It is often said that orienteering is not a friendly sport for television, but next WOC will have "the biggest TV coverage of orienteering ever" (IOF site). Does this mean new hope for developing orienteering? Why is there a difference at Olomouc?
I am very happy that the Czech organisers have managed to get this comprehensive coverage of the WOC in July and in particular that the European Broadcasting Union has agreed to distribute the production. But this does not mean that you and I can see orienteering on our TV sets unless all our national federations can convince their TV broadcasting companies to buy the signal and send the programmes nationally. The IOF (and the organisers) can do all the preparatory work, but it is up to every nation (national federation) to make sure that such productions are shown. Here we have not been so successful in the past but I hope that our member federations now realise that there are opportunities to market our sport by nursing relations with national broadcasting companies.
You have been on IOF Council since 1988. If you have to choose the 3 most important facts for orienteering history in these last 20 years, what would you choose?
Two decades is a very long time and many decisions taken were very important at the time they were taken but perhaps not ranking at the top when looking over the entire period. I always ask myself, when a decision is to be made, 'Does this give us more orienteering ?' If the answer is 'Yes' - then it is a good and important decision. But to rank them, no...
What is the main challenge for IOF in the next years?
We have a number of main challenges. Everyone who has read our Strategic Directions (2006-2012) has seen a list of them all. I cannot single out one challenge that is more important than another. We have to have a balanced development in all sectors of activity, otherwise it will not create 'more orienteering'. Clearly, our strategic activity 'Regional Development' is an important one because the regions (or the bodies pursuing the development in the region) are the engine to continued growth. Improved visibility is another important challenge. We must have a 'product' that can sell, and we must have an ability to sell. It does not mean that we have to change our sport, but we must make it more attractive to those who do not themselves participate. In relation to Olympic participation, for instance, the question is always: What can you bring that add value to the Games? We should ask ourselves that question more often and also try to answer it. The starting point is more "we for them" than "we for us". What is good for us may not always be good for "them".
Now, please forget that you are the IOF president. What was your personal happiest moment in orienteering ever?
Well, I started orienteering in 1958 so it is an almost impossible question to answer. What comes to mind, though, is when I was the President of the Swedish Orienteering Federation and during Christmas 1992 had to make a decision to put a stop to all orienteering activities in Sweden for half a year because of all the 'sudden deaths' we had had in 1991-92. This was not a decision I was happy about, but more so when we came to the US later that year (for WOC) and the Swedish team made a great performance. After 8 pressing months, our success in the 1993 WOC is probably one of my better moments as leader in orienteering.
Finally, do you have something new to announce for veteran orienteers? Or do you want to leave any message to 2008 WMOC competitors?
First of all I wish all 2008 WMOC participants good luck in the events in Portugal and I hope that all will enjoy the company of so many other masters orienteers. What I hope for is that masters orienteers will express their views to the IOF how they want the WMOC and other masters events developing over the coming years. The IOF has a commission that administrate well the WMOC (the IOF Foot Orienteering Commission) and there are many views on how to make the WMOC an event more attractive event, so there is no lack of ideas. But I would very much like to see that also participants make their voice heard and guide us in future decisions on the WMOC and other masters events.
(Interview by Manuel Dias. Questions and answers by e-mail. Received on 2008 May 7th.)
[2008-06-20] Carlos Monteiro, WMOC Event Director
[2008-06-20] Dieter Wolf, M55, SUI
[2008-06-19] Timo Teinila, WMOC speaker
[2008-06-19] Jorge Simões, WMOC Event Director assistant
[2008-06-18] Blair Trewin, M35, AUS
[2008-06-18] Mariett Matias, WMOC Media responsible
[2008-06-17] David May, WMOC Senior Event Advisor
[2008-06-16] Gottfried Tobler, M60, AUT
[2008-06-16] Tuulikki Salmenkylä, W45, FIN
[2008-06-16] Arvo Majoinen, M80, FIN
[2008-06-14] Fernando Costa, WMOC Marketing responsible
[2008-06-13] Sarah Dunn, W40, GBR
[2008-06-12] Santos Sousa, WMOC planner
[2008-06-11] Sigurd Daehli, M55, NOR
[2008-06-10] Alexandre Reis, WMOC mapper and planner
[2008-06-09] Nick Duca, M40, CAN
[2008-06-07] Tiago Aires, WMOC mapper and planner
[2008-06-06] Irina Stepanova, W55, RUS
[2008-06-05] Luís Sérgio, WMOC mapper
[2008-06-04] Ari Kattainen, M50, FIN
[2008-06-03] Rui Antunes, WMOC Mapping coordinator
[2008-06-02] Jon Musgrave, M45, GBR
[2008-05-31] Jacinto Eleutério, WMOC Course coordinator
[2008-05-30] Rune Carlsson, M70, SWE
[2008-05-29] Åke Jacobson, IOF President
[2008-05-29] Augusto Almeida, POF President
[2008-05-28] Jurate Uleviciene, W55, LIT
[2008-05-26] Vladimir Ioffe, M70, ISR
[2008-05-23] José Fernandes, M45, POR
[2008-05-21] Ezio Paris, M55, ITA
[2008-05-19] Gabriella Györffy, W40, HUN
[2008-05-16] Alberto Minguez, M40, ESP
[2008-05-14] Tomas Zdrahal, M55, CZE
[2008-05-12] Paulo Becker, M45, BRA
[2008-05-09] Ingrid Roll, W70, NOR
[2008-05-07] Jerzy Parzewski, M55, POL
[2008-05-05] Hugh Moore, M60, AUS
[2008-05-02] Martin Checkley, M55, GBR
[2008-04-30] Etienne Bousser, M60, FRA
[2008-04-28] Andreas Grote, M40, SUI
[2008-04-24] Liudmila Labutina, W65, RUS
[2008-04-22] Freddy Sillien, M60, BEL
[2008-04-17] Tomislav Kaniski, M35, CRO
[2008-04-14] Eero Tuuteri, M85, FIN
[2008-04-10] Lena Nordahl, W80, SWE
[2008-04-07] Albano João, M45, POR
[2008-04-03] Tom A. Karlsen, M55, NOR
[2008-03-31] Kayoko Sakai, W55, JPN
[2008-03-27] Finn Arildsen, M45, DEN
[2008-03-24] Anne Nurmi, W45, FIN
[2008-03-20] Peo Bengtsson, M75, SWE
[2008-03-17] Alida Abola, W50, LAT
[2008-03-13] Matti Railimo, M60, FIN
[2008-03-10] Cornelia Eckardt, W35, GER
[2008-03-06] Joaquim Sousa, M35, POR
[2008-03-03] Birgitta Olsson, W75, SWE
[2008-02-20] J. Salmenkylä, M75, FIN
[2008-02-18] Torid Kvaal, W65, NOR
[2008-02-15] Mykola Bozhko, M55, UKR
[2008-02-13] Pavlina Brautigam, W45, USA
[2008-02-11] Ferran Santoyo, M35, ESP
[2008-02-08] Sole Nieminen, W80, FIN
[2008-02-06] Stefano Galletti, M40, ITA
[2008-02-04] Gillian Ingham, W50, NZL
[2008-02-01] Jörgen Mårtensson, M45, SWE
[2008-01-30] Tom Hiltebrand, M50, SUI
[2008-01-28] Baiba Ozola, W40, LAT
[2008-01-25] Eddie Harwood, M55, GBR
[2008-01-23] Marje Viirmann, W45, EST
[2008-01-21] Alexander Afonyushkin, M40, RUS
[2008-01-18] Paulina Majova, W55, SVK
[2008-01-16] Björn Linnersjö, M65, SWE
[2008-01-15] Lillian Røss, W85, NOR
[2008-01-10] Tapio Peippo, M55, FIN
[2008-01-07] Elizabeth Brown, W90, GBR
[2008-01-04] Erkki Luntamo, M90, FIN