Western hosts International Symposium for Olympic and Paralympic Research

The International Centre for Olympic Studies at Western University in London, Ontario successfully hosted its 15th International Symposium for Olympic and Paralympic Research, on October 15-16, 2021, under the thematic banner: “Emerging Technologies and Emerging Sports in the Covid-19 Era.”

Originally scheduled to occur in partnership with Toyo University in Tokyo, Japan, one week before the 2020 Olympic Games, the event was moved to an online forum with the gracious help of Conference Services at Western University, and the invaluable support of the Symposium’s main sponsors including the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, Western Research, and the Department of Kinesiology and the Faculty of Health Sciences at Western University.

Despite such unprecedented and challenging conditions, the Symposium managed to feature presentations delivered by over 70 Olympic scholars and researchers from 20 different countries around the world.

Highlighting the proceedings were the six keynote addresses given by distinguished individuals (see below) in the field of Olympic and Paralympic Studies. Their insights both on and from within the modern Olympic Movement provided the basis for an intellectually stimulating event that was appreciated by everyone involved.

Keynote Speakers

Richard Pound, The John Howard Crocker Lecture - ”The Impact of Hosting the Olympic Games During a Pandemic.”

Richard W. Pound is a Canadian swimming champion, lawyer, author, and prominent spokesman for sport ethics. He was the first president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, 17th Chancellor of the McGill University, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, and the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee. Pound competed in men's swimming representing Canada at the 1959 Pan American Games, 1960 Summer Olympics, and 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games. Following his retirement, he has assumed a role as a partner in the law firm of Stikeman Elliott LLP in Montreal and has authored several books over the years. Pound is a long-standing ICOS guest lecturer for the bi-annual symposiums.

Scott Russell, The Earle F. Zeigler Lecture - “How Journalists Covered the Olympic Games During a Pandemic.”

Scott Russell is a Canadian Screen Award and Gemini Award-winning broadcaster and acclaimed author. He is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and holds an M.A. in Journalism. Russell is a CBC Sports veteran of more than 25 years and has covered 14 Olympic Games throughout his career. He is a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee's Education Committee, the Ambassador's Council for the Amici camping charity, and the Advisory Panel for the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport and the Public Policy Forum on Value-Based Sport. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contributions to sports in Canada.

Dr. Heather Reid, The Ion P. Ioannides Memorial Lecture – “Olympic Heroes”

Dr. Heather Reid is a Professor of Philosophy at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa, a Scholar in Residence at Exedra Mediterranean Center in Siracusa, Sicily, Founder and Director of the Fonte Aretusa Organization and a Principal Editor at Parnassos Press. Currently, she is a Board Member of the International Centre for Olympic Studies in Canada. Dr. Reid has published numerous books and articles in ancient philosophy, philosophy of sport, and Olympic Studies. She has lectured on these topics in Beijing, London, Rome, Seoul, and at the International Olympic Academy in Olympia. Her research explores the relationship between ethics and athletics in ancient Greece and Rome.

Dr. Noboku Tanaka-Hibino, Keynote Address- ”Paralympic Games in Japan During the Pandemic.”

Speaking on Japanese Gender policy at the 2020 Paralympic Games, Dr. Tanaka-Hibino obtained an MSc in Sports Sciences from Loughborough University and then completed a PhD degree at Institute of Sport and Leisure Policy, Loughborough University in 2013. She was appointed as an Associate Professor at Toin University of Yokohama in 2013 (in 2019, she became Professor at the same university).

Nobuko Tanaka-Hibino’s major field is sport policy science. Specifically, she is interested in athletes’ voices. For example, how athletes with disabilities can participate in policy making processes of the sport policy community.

Dr. Jim Parry and Jacob Giesbrecht, Keynote Address.” E-sports are not Sports.”

Dr. Parry is a Honorary Fellow in the Department of Philosophy at Leeds University, and is currently a visiting professor at Charles University in Prague, Czechia. Mr. Giesbrecht attained his M.A. in Applied Health Sciences at Brock University, and is currently a PhD candidate at Charles University focusing on the influence of social media and its effects on athlete autonomy and freedom of expression in sport.

Speaking on the topic of E-Sport, Dr. Parry and Mr. Giesbrecht discussed their recent scholarly collaboration together which attempts to answer the question: are E-Sports sport?

Dr. Charlene Weaving, Keynote Address ”Sexualization of Olympians and Paralympians.”

Dr. Weaving is a Professor and Department Chair at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. Her research Interests includes the socio-cultural studies of sport, doping and ethics, gender studies in sport, and the Modern Olympic Games.

Dr. Angela Schneider and Dr. Jane Thornton, Keynote Address -”Impact of Covid 19 on Athletes Training for the Olympic Games.”

Dr. Schneider is Director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at Western University. She is an Olympic silver medalist in rowing from the 1984 Olympic Games and a professor in Kinesiology. Dr. Thornton represented Canada and achieved rank titles in women's rowing at the 2006 World Rowing Championships and the 2008 Olympics. She is a Clinician Scientist specializing in long-term athlete health, female athlete health, and physical activity in the prevention and treatment of chronic disease. Together, with Dr. Schneider, their address outlined the SHRCC-funded research on particular impacts that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on Olympic athletes.