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Triumphant return: First in-person AGM since 2019 exceeds expectations 17/06/2023

WDSF 2023 AGM Thanks to the valuable input of delegates from around the world and the exceptional organisational skills of the hosts, the World DanceSport Federation (WDSF)’s 2023 Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Forum in Madrid, Spain were a tremendous success.

The 2023 AGM was attended by representatives of 53 NMBs (106 votes in total), 9 proxies (18 votes), WDSF Associate Member World Rock’n’Roll Confederation (2 votes) and 2 WDSF Honorary Life Members (1 vote each).

The gathering marked the first in-person AGM since 2019 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organized by the Spanish DanceSport Federation (FEBD) and its President Luis Vaño, the series of gatherings commenced on 7 June with a Managing Committee meeting and concluded on 12 June.

The highlights of the weeklong event included the 2023 WDSF Forum on 10 June at the headquarters of the Spanish Olympic Committee and a lively AGM the following day at the Hotel Eurostars Madrid Tower.

WDSF President Shawn Tay, who attended remotely, called for a concerted effort from all National Member Bodies (NMBs) to ensure an unforgettable Olympic debut of Breaking at Paris 2024 next year.

  WDSF 2023 AGM President attended remotely “Together we will excel as an Olympic International Federation with our long-awaited debut at the prestigious Paris Olympic Games in 2024,” said President Tay. “I want to emphasize that the Presidium and the Breaking Event Management Committee are dedicating tremendous efforts to prepare an impressive showcase of DanceSport to the world next year. Let us work together and transform this vision into a resounding reality, paving the way for our other disciplines.”

The AGM received an update on the excellent progress being made with regard to qualifying for Paris 2024, including the success of the Breaking for Gold World Series that for the first time, together with Continental and World Championships, provides the Breaking community with a competitive international structure of events that will culminate in the new IOC-led Olympic Qualifier Series (OQS) next year with 10 quota places allocated to each gender and finally at the Olympic Games Paris 2024, which will feature a total of 16 b-boys and 16 b-girls.

IOC MESSAGES

The AGM also heard from President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach in a speech prepared for the 2022 EGM and IOC Associate Director of Sport and IF Relations David Luckes.

“I would like to congratulate everyone at the World DanceSport Federation – under the leadership of your President, Shawn Tay – for everything you are doing to embrace change and modernize your sport,” said President Bach. “Working in partnership with the IOC, you have not missed a beat.”

Luckes elaborated on the excellent ties between our two organisations. “We remain very happy with the working relationship established between the WDSF and the IOC over the years,” Luckes said in his video message. “In recent years, the WDSF has taken great steps forward in line with Olympic Agenda 2020+5, including the development and delivery of a fair and transparent qualification system to ensure the best athletes are able to compete in Paris 2024, development of robust safeguarding policies and procedures, outsourcing of anti-doping programmes to the International Testing Agency (ITA), continuous development and evolution of effective judging systems, and the implementation of an ethics code of conduct.

“As such we thank you for implementing principles of good governance and for defending the autonomy of sport and strengthening the unity of the Olympic Movement in the current complex global landscape. This is particularly important and we are very appreciative of the efforts made by the WDSF in supporting and implementing the IOC Executive Board recommendations regarding the participation of Individual Neutral Athletes.”

Throughout the course of the meetings, on June 8, the WDSF announced its continued full support for the IOC recommendations for International Federations and international sports event organisers on the participation of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport in international competitions. In the firm belief that bona fide neutral individuals should be allowed to compete in DanceSport events under carefully regulated and supervised conditions, where reasonably possible, the WDSF is developing a careful pathway for the return to international competition of strictly neutral athletes holding one of those passports. Read more here.

LATEST DANCESPORT DEVELOPMENTS

In the physical absence of the WDSF President, the duties of chairing the AGM fell to First Vice President Tony Tilenni, who expertly conducted proceedings throughout the day. He was assisted by members of the Managing Committee and Presidium.

In addition to congratulating DanceSport stalwarts and Presidium Members Charles Ferreira and Antoni Czyzyk for becoming members of the French and Polish National Olympic Committees, respectively, Vice President Tilenni provided a brief overview of exciting recent developments regarding DanceSport’s Olympic journey.

This included news that the WDSF had secured an agreement with the Olympic Channel. The agreement will begin with the broadcasting of the 2023 WDSF World Championship in Standard discipline as well as the 2023 WDSF Grand Slam Latin and Standard slated to take place in Wuxi, China this July, a deal that will “help bring Latin and Standard to the world through the power of the IOC and Olympic Channel distribution.” The scope of the agreement will cover all of the most relevant upcoming WDSF events.

Worldwide figures are already quite impressive, according to media analysis research conducted over the last 12 months. Tilenni said that over 1 billion people mentioned Dance (Sport) over this period via messages on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp alone. There are currently over 40 million Breaking followers, of which 12 million are in China, 12 million in India and 16 million elsewhere around the world. These are excellent numbers that bode well for Breaking’s inclusion at the Olympic Games LA28 and Brisbane 2032.

The First Vice President also reported that the WDSF is one of only 10 Olympic Federations to be invited to take part in the IOC’s first Olympic Esport Series finals from 22-25 June in Singapore. Competitors from around the globe will compete to win gold in Just Dance 3, the world’s leading dance game from Ubisoft. “These developments are incredibly exciting, and we have no doubt that there will be many more to come,” Tilenni added.

MOTION PASSED AGAINST RIVAL AFFILIATION

Among the many excellent discussions at the AGM was that regarding the Presidium Motion to amend the WDSF Statutes to restrict membership in or affiliation with rival organizations governing disciplines described in the WDSF Competition Rules.

WDSF 2023 AGM Delegates voting The Presidium, backed by Honorary Member Jim Fraser, successfully argued that as the peak global body for DanceSport as recognized by the IOC, all WDSF members were required to avoid conflicts of interest and undermining their peak status by becoming members of other bodies not directly recognised by the WDSF as a part of the Olympic family.

Unlike the other bodies, the WDSF is a not-for-profit Olympic Sports Federation that complies with the Olympic Charter and other IOC requirements, including the anti-doping policies of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and administered by the International Testing Agency (ITA).

"We emphasize that the WDSF supports and encourages its member bodies to consider granting associate memberships in their own organizations to other bodies,” Fraser said. “But the fundamental point here is that the WDSF cannot agree that its member bodies can be members of federations which are not recognized by the WDSF. Accordingly, the obligation of a WDSF member body to exercise its membership in support of the objects – the legal objects – set out in Article 2 of the statutes implies that it would fail to do so by joining or supporting an organization which is a rival organization in the sense that it has or claims the same or a similar scope of activities.”

The motion was decisively passed 97 votes in favour, with 18 votes against and 6 abstentions. Following the vote, the Presidium immediately extended the deadline for NMBs who have already joined or affiliated with an unrecognized body to fully and finally resign from such a connection by the date of the next AGM (previously 31 December 2023).

NEW TERMS FOR ATHLETE TRANSFERS

WDSF AGM 2023 General photo During the Annual General Meeting, an important decision was made to amend rule 2.2.4 of the WDSF Competition Rules. The amendment was specifically aimed at modifying the terms of the athlete transfer process between Member Bodies by streamlining and improving the overall efficiency of the transfer process. By implementing these modifications, the WDSF seeks to ensure a smoother transition for athletes who wish to change their affiliation between different Member Bodies. This adjustment reflects the organization’s commitment to adapt and enhance its policies to better serve the needs of its athletes and the DanceSport community as a whole, as well as to continue to attract the best athletes as per Recommendation 4 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5.

WDSF FORUM

The 2023 WDSF Forum, meanwhile, included a number of panel discussions on topics of great importance to the future well-being of DanceSport. Under the theme “Beyond the Dance,” the Forum focused on a number of essential obligations and requirements the WDSF, as an Olympic global governing body, strives to uphold on behalf of the Olympic Movement, fair play, and athletes everywhere.

Topics of discussion included:

  • WDSF DanceSport’s Olympic Odyssey: From Dream to Reality
  • The DanceSport Revolution: New Innovations in the Competition System
  • Dancing Beyond Limits: WDSF’s Breakthrough at the Special Olympic Games
  • From Risks to Resilience: Empowering DanceSport Athletes through Safeguarding
  • Sustainability Policy
  • Ethics Module and Update
  • Stepping into the Headlines: DanceSport’s Media Coverage Today
  • WDSF Historical Commission

The WDSF was especially pleased to welcome speeches from Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco and Spanish National Member Body President Luis Vaño at the beginning of the Forum.

For further information, please consult the video of the full 2023 AGM on our WDSF YouTube channel.