Home / Orienteering News / The Orienteering Elite Unite against WOC program

The Orienteering Elite Unite against WOC program

More than 100 of the participants in the World Cup races in Liberec last weekend signed a petition against the suggested WOC in the future program. The petition is very clear on the opinion of the runners. – We do not like the Council’s proposal on the WOC program, and we do not want to participate in such a WOC.

– The great majority of us runners are not happy with the proposal for the new WOC-program

Eva Jurenikova – part of the Czech silver medal team from the relay at the World Championships in France earlier this year – has taken the initiative to get the IOF to understand how the top runners feel about the suggested WOC program.

– The great majority of us runners are not happy with the proposal for the new WOC-program. This is why we decided to show our discontent and organized a petition during the World Cup weekend in Liberec, Jurenikova explains.

– I was surprised how readily the runners signed the petition, and how forcefully some of the runners commented on the proposal.

9 World Champions

During the World Cup weekend in Liberec, Jurenikova organized a meeting including 9 World Champions to discuss the WOC program in the future – Thierry Gueorgiou, Helena Jansson, Annika Billstam, Olav Lundanes, Carl Waaler Kaas, Minna Kauppi, Dana Brozkova, Daniel Hubmann, Matthias Merz and Fabian Hertner.

The runners are very clear on that their motivation for the petition is that they are very much interested in the development of the sport of orienteering – and that they would like to contribute to the process and participate in the discussion with the IOF.

– This is the first step. We do not only want to criticise the proposal. We would like to form a new athletes committee where we can discuss and present which improvements, we, runners suggest, Jurenikova wrote in a letter to the IOF sports director on behalf of the group of World Champions.

The Council’s proposal for new WOC program

The background for the petition is the IOF Council’s proposal for a new WOC program – which can be formulated in the following way:

If 4 WOC finals are preferred, they should be

  • Sprint qualification + Sprint final
  • Sprint Relay (mixed teams 2+2)
  • Middle Prologue + Chasing start
  • Long final, individual interval start

If 5 finals are preferred, the following disipline is added:

  • The traditional Relay is added to the above

The proposal for a new WOC program has been discussed widely in the orienteering community, and lately World Champion on long distance from Trondheim in 2010 – Olav Lundanes – was quite harsh in his critics against the suggestions. Now Lundanes has got support by most of the world orienteering elite.

– The reason we have decided to take this approach is that the federations do not listen to us, Lundanes explains.

– When the federations were asked to come with input to the new WOC-program, the runners on the national team wrote a long letter to the Norwegian federation about our opinions. I can say that it was almost the complete opposite of the letter the federation sent to the IOF.

And according to Lundanes – top elite runners from other nations have experienced the same problems to reach the federation with their opinons. – The Swiss runners have also tried to bring forward their opinion, but without being listened to.

The way forward

It will be very interesting to see if the world orienteering elite manages to get anywhere with this initiative. A letter has now been sent to the IOF sports director asking for a meeting.

The petition

Below you can see the petiton sent to the IOF – including the 111 signatures from top orienteers.


About Jan Kocbach

Jan Kocbach is the founder of WorldofO.com - taking care of everything from site development to writing articles, photography and analysis.

Check Also


Route to Christmas: Day 21 2019

Today’s leg in Route to Christmas is a long leg from the largest individual orienteering ...


  1. Cotirta Marian (coti)

    IOF’s current leadership should understand that this sport regulations are primarily for athletes and not for them … or potential spectators
    I hope the efforts to sustain the sports federations

    Transforming this sport in a simple cross with a map on land as simple as possible in my opinion is not the most brilliant idea

    Do not listen to the voice of the people, is the first step to dictatorship and can be very dangerous …

    Good luck and courage petitioners
    Marian Cotirta

  2. Anne M Hausken Nordberg

    Well done, Eva – I would have given my signature.

  3. Why IOF has Athletes’ Commission and Council didn’t able to get its formal opinion during the process? It looks like they ignored their opinion or the athletes’ Commission is not part of the process.

    I am looking forward to see ideas and proposals from elite runners. It is just pity that runners must think about development of the sport instead of focusing on training and competition because they can’t trust them.

    I see only one good thing so far in the IOF proposal and that is decision to have maximum five final events.

    Four existing disciplines + »Olympic discipline» Do we need it, can we develop it? Which format suits the best to the IOC criteria and our vision to bring orienteering onto Olympics?

    Runners from a small/new federation get:
    Mixed relay (team or individual)
    Sprint A/B Final

    Olympic discipline: Could we have exchange between Sprint Relay and Middle Chase? Developing process should tell us which discipline is better to use for WOC. The only one criteria: Are we able to sell this discipline to the sponsors, TV and IOC? I see that mixed relay has more chances than middle chase right now.

    Mixed Relay: Easier for urban, park areas, city forest. 1 hour. Forked controls for Women (2) and unforked for men (2). Also runners without a team in a mixed relay run a course as part of qualification for Sprint Final. As pre- starters.
    Middle chase: Sprint final as a qualification. Athletes get bonus second on Sprint Final rank not on time behind. Only 30 best in Final.

    Sprint: Mixed Relay is part of a Qualification model. No need to have separate sprint WOC. We could implement it as first round of WC (3-5 sprint competitions). It will be cheaper for new countries to host the elite competition. Participation model: the best 25 runners from first WC round (personal slots) + WOC champion + XY the best from Olympic discipline. All other runners run Sprint B final instead of qualification. Different course/ same terrain. Runners get the feeling of a WOC Final terrain.

    Middle: Individual start, 2′. Same time span as for Long will give us chance to have more runners in the Final (between 45-95 runners). Also some WC races had more than 60 runners without any problems. Participation model: Each country has one slot; others slots based on World Ranking.

    Middle is the most technical discipline. This discipline should be seen as a motivation for athletes/federations to develop sport/traditional orienteering.

    Long: Individual start, 3′. Participation model: 25 best on World Ranking (personal/national slots / no restriction per country) + WOC champion + 20 places from middle Final (national slots). Max. 3 per country.

    World ranking scheme should be part of WOC future development.

    • Athletes were part of the project.
      Have a look on the members : http://orienteering.org/foot-orienteering/woc-in-the-future/

      • @Vincent: I talked to Olav Lundanes yesterday. He said that athletes were part of the WIF work group (Wingstedt), but their views were not listened to.

        • I don’t know what else Athletes’ commission proposed and was not part of the final WIF proposal but it seems to me a very good proposal by WIF project group.

          If Athletes don’t want to run Mixed relay or middle Chase than they should present what is their favorite fifth discipline in all aspects.

          But what happened after Council’s decision it looks like sabotage.

          It is worth to look back.

          Middle/Long/WRL – I haven’t seen any other better proposal so far. Every federation has different idea how to select runners but in general we must agree what we must develop (WRL) and not just looking how to make a selection. Also Foot O commission make it very clear that WRL as a qualification method is better approach than WOC results. SWE also.

          What we really need from IOF Council is to make a decision to gather as much ideas as possible about all six disciplines / race formats / participation models with precise pros and cons arguments. Only 14 federations have spent time so far to think about possible alternative ideas and solutions which are not included in IOF proposal. People in other federations should know more. They should know the reasons behind the final proposal so they could understand it. Why and how decision should influence on future development of the sport and also on their motivation to develop the elite orienteering.

  4. My biggest support to this petition as well!

  5. I am not a runner myself, but was earlier. I support the runners 100% in this. If the runners so clearly say that they will not participate in such a WOC, then IOF and other National Federations MUST LISTEN! Support you!

  6. Marianne Andersen

    I support the petition!

  7. Hello World.

    Despite the new programme favouring my strengths as more of a runner than an orienteer, I don’t agree with the changes at all: If I wanted to just run then that’s the sport I’d do.

    I’m sure most would prefer the personal challenge of trying to outsmart the course setter rather than just running a course made to entertain laymen spectators.

    I believe that there are other more exciting and innovative ways to make the sport more spectator friendly and appealing to the Olympic Committee. I have some good ideas of how to do so (I don’t know if they’ve been thought up before or not), and in light of recent happenings I’m not sure if I should keep them to myself any more… I thought there could be a career (for myself) in it, but they’ll be wasted anyway if the sport ‘heads down that road’. I’m sure that if the IOF (and the committees of the bigger orienteering nations) can be a little open minded and willing to invest some resources into solving a problem without changing orienteering forever then orienteers and the general public will be able to watch, enjoy and most importantly understand the sport of orienteering in a manner that’s very presentable and would put some other Olympic sports to shame.

    For now I’ll hold onto my intellectual property, I don’t know if anyone is interested, or if it has already been ruled out. It seems that the IOF & co. will just do what they want, but hopefully we can change their minds about what they want!

    I totally support this petition, (if I was less injured I would have been there to sign it) it’s a great initiative taken by the runners, the IOF should take it very seriously: Without athletes they’re just going to be broadcasting some very spectator friendly empty streets. Let’s hope it let’s us have our opinions heard.

    PS. What’s Thierry’s opinion?? I can’t find his name on the petition.

  8. We have seen the suggested program the runners oppose, it would of course be much more interesting to see the program they prefer.

    • I believe they prefer the programme that already exists

      • As I understand from Eva Jurenikova, they want to have a dialog to understand how the suggested program can be modified in a way which agrees with the views of both the IOF and the athletes. Just keeping the current program is not an option I would think. The most important principle is to not introduce competitions on the program which are not well tested.

        • I agree that ‘tweaks’ can be made to the current program, but this re-inventing the wheel business is pretty risky for everyone.

  9. Marcus Millegård

    A good initiative Eva but something more creative than just refusing the given proposal would be better. It is possible to find improvements in today’s WOC to make it more “attractive” to the audience, which seems to be the aim of the IOF proposal. I think some obvious things could be mentioned to show IOF what really needs to be changed:
    * No GPS-tracking before the last leg in the men’s relay is a disaster for the TV production. A quarantine zone for the runners would be the easiest solution to this problem.
    * The sprint is a real mess in TV and as boring as watching an XC-prologue in Tour de Ski. Something must be done here, like increasing the starting interval for the last starters.
    * Decrease the number of participants in the long final. It is a too long competition.

    Then of course there are lots of other things that could be discussed. Perhaps men and women could compete on different days in some disciplin to make the competition days shorter and increase the number of “medal event days”. Forest/urban WOC every second year, etc.

    • As I understand from Eva Jurenikova, this petition is a first step in order to get a process going. To get all runners to agree about a new WOC program is not an easy task – it requires some organizing on the runners behalf – and they also need a way to see that they can influence.

    • I really agree in all your points. I was one of the persons responsible for last years GPS tracking in WOC (Trondheim) and here is the last section of the tracking evaluation I wrote to IOF (and coming organizers):

      “There were many discussions concerning tracking of the relay. We were neither allowed to show any of the legs in the women’s relay, nor the two first legs of the men’s relay. We tried to use white/blurred maps to show important happenings. This was not good enough, and the spectators were disappointed. Organizers of later WOCs must find a better solution for this. Probably quarantine zone (for team leaders and runners) on a changeover area (from first start)
      could be a solution to this. The big screen must not be viewable from this area.”

      • Bernt O. Myrvold

        Before WOC 2010 the Norwegian orienteering federation made sure that their rules allowed for tracking all the way through the relay. As the IOF did not have any rules at that point (and I still don’t think they have any) at least some of us hopped that the Norwegian rules would be applied.

        Unfortunately this was not the case and we get strange solutions like white sheets and blurred maps. WOC 2006 use of aerial photos is maybe the least bad solution so far.

        As Jukka Inkeri points out it is not that difficult to plan the courses, camera positions and tracking so the last legs get little information. All the runner also have access to the same information, making the competition fair.

  10. It’s not so difficult to arrange relay using GPS in every legs and competitors don’t get data before own leg.
    We have tools to make TV-show, if courses are not full speed running (as they have been too often) – GPS tools in every legs + orienteering exams something like 2011 – TV-drama is possible.

  11. Very good initiative! It shows that IOF’s proposal has very limited support – if any at all – from the athletes.

    In my opinion, changes should be introduced if there is a need for them, not just for the sake of change itself. So, why are the proposed changes needed? I didn’t see any good answer to this question yet.

    Focus on increasing the quality of the media productions of existing events rather than randomly introduce untested event formats that virtually nobody likes. For example, the broadcast of this year’s WOC sprint was really messy, not giving Average Joe any idea what was going on.

  12. Signing protests! Agree with Millegård also.

    For me, mixed sprint relay is worth zero. It wouldn’t even be fun to watch.

  13. My e-sign to support to this petition as well!

  14. My e-sign to support to this petition as well!

  15. My e-sign to support to this petition as well!

  16. My e-sign to support to this petition as well!

  17. I support the petition!

  18. I would also like to support petition as well.

  19. This is a very impressing collection of names of important runners – and persons- for orienteering. We need to listen to them, like in the Norwegian rules for Mountain-hiking; It’s no shame to turn back. : )

  20. I support petition as well

  21. My e-sign to support to this petition as well!

  22. I support the petition!

  23. I support the petition as well.

  24. I support the petition as well!

  25. Meri Ckripeska

    I definitely support it!

  26. IOF want to sell this sport to the media.
    When you sell something it does not belong to you any more.
    Congratulations to the athletes for resisting IOF.

  27. I really support this initiative, and I wish all the top athletes good luck in finding a better proposal. It is not a question about change or not: Today’s proposal from IOC shows clearly signs of incompetence and lack of understanding of what will work in order to make WOC more attractive to the audience, TV-spectators as well as the athletes. Sprint has so far not worked in TV, but IOC wants to have one more sprint competition. Experiences so far with middle chasing start are neither good, and IOC wants to include that as well as a new event…

    But don’t be surprised if it is difficult to get through. The top management in both IOF and a lot of the national organizations have clearly the opinion that they should not listen to the top athletes. They have used, and will use, the ultimate argument that “The top runners are the best in today’s types of events and will by definition avoid change and always be conservative”. It is thus important that also we, the 99% of the orienteering runners who are doing orienteering just for fun as a leisure activity, also raise our voice. A WOC programme is soon reflected in the national and regional competition programmes offered to all of us. We are not very interested in bureaucracy, meetings and general assemblies (have too much of that in work) but it is maybe about time to take this up in the proper forums.

  28. Ultimately this is going to be decided by a vote of the national federations at the General Assembly next year. The petition is all very good, but if the athletes want a say they need to be putting pressure on their national federations to make sure they vote in a way that reflects their interests.

  29. they should do the normal programm + on the last day a Massstart-Ultralong-Mixed-Relay-Night-Chase-Sprint for the tv ;)

    supporting petiton

  30. I support the petition as well. My opinion is that the “soul” of orienteering should be preserved. The use of GPS has shown that orienteering in the deep dark forests can be very interesting on TV for spectators as proven in WOC France! Sprint orienteering versus traditional orientering WOC could be carried out every second year. Night orienteering would also deserve a place in WOC.

  31. First of all I have to show my support to this petition.

    Someone mentioned night orienteering. I think of headlamps. It’s a big business in cycling sport to sell bikes and gears. Headlamps can be a business in orienteering if night orienteering has been developed into an important discipline.

    If IOF wanna make changes for more money, maybe this is another direction to think? :P

  32. I support the petition as well.

  33. Rassmus Andersson

    I also support the petition.

  34. My e-sign to support to this petition as well!

  35. I support the petition as well.

  36. I was sick in World Cup and had no chance to sign this petition. So, just wanted to say that I support this petition 100%!


  37. stefan lombriser

    I’m in!

  38. I never will be affected directly by any WOC program :-) But maybe, I’ll be affected indirectly, because the WOC program influences the national and even the regional forms of our sport. And it influences the public image of O.

    I find many of the ideas in the IOF proposal wrong or, at least, half-baked.

    And, finally, the proposals of those who are life-giving to any WOC program, the athletes, should be considered.

    Thus, I support this petition!


  39. I also support the petition.