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Foot Orienteering Commission chair on Event Quality

The IOF organises yearly World Cup, World Championships, Junior World Championships and World Masters Championships. This year’s European Orienteering Championships (EOC) raised the question about how to ensure event quality in all IOF Events.

The EOC provided high-quality and fair competition on some excellent terrain, but problems arose in one of the Middle distance qualification heats and also with the Long distance final, where new courses had to be planned at very short notice when the ones to be used were, in error, published on the event website before the race. In the World Cup in Spain, an unforeseeable problem in the Long distance race led to the men’s race having to be declared void.

We asked Foot Orienteering Commission Chair Mikko Salonen about his views on ensuring event quality in IOF Events.

What went wrong in the European Orienteering Championships preparations?

“When you are not on site, it is practically impossible to give a judgement and say what went wrong. We need to remember that, when the event is on, the IOF Senior Event Adviser (SEA) is the person responsible, hence we need to wait for his report to make a thorough analysis.”

The Senior Event Adviser is the person appointed by the IOF to ensure event quality together with the national controller and the local organiser. 

What could have been done to prevent this?

“As said, first we need to understand why things went wrong. Of course, we can easily question whether the organisers had enough resources and experience, and, if we (the IOF) were able to provide them with enough support.”  

What will be done to prevent this from ever happening again?

“We need to learn from the experiences in Portugal and Spain, review the role of the SEA and analyse our organiser selection process. Also, we need to consider, if the current guidelines and SEA trainings are up to date.

In the short term, we will of course be in touch with all SEAs of future events and encourage them to ask for help as soon as they feel that something is not going as it should. We will also check that they know exactly whom to contact if they have any questions or concerns, both before the event and, in particular, during the event.

The next foot orienteering IOF events will be held in countries that have a long history of organising major events, and I am confident that the quality will be as expected. Also the first World Cup round in Turkey met our expectations. 

Despite the problems, the Spanish and Portuguese organisers certainly deserve thanks for their efforts and we hope to see them coming back for more events in the future”, concludes Mikko Salonen, chairman of the IOF Foot Orienteering Commission.


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