Invitation for a roundtable event on 18 April 2024 in Bled, Slovenia

How safe is Slovenian sport?

Comparison with international practice for the protection of athletes

Hotel Astoria, Bled, Thursday, 18 April 2024

Interpersonal violence, harassment and abuse in sport are receiving increasing attention worldwide. Ensuring a safe sporting environment requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the root causes of abuse and harassment and puts in place practical measures to protect participants. The Round Table aims to exchange experiences and perspectives of Slovenian and foreign experts and other stakeholders in sport, including the media, on the topic of safe sport and related responsibilities.

The Olympic Committee of Slovenia – Association of Sports Federations as a partner in the Erasmus+ project Building European Safe Sport Together (BESST) is organising a round table in which not only Slovenian experts, but also other partners of this European project will participate:

  • European Olympic Academies
  • Windesheim University of Applied Sciences
  • Netherlands Olympic Committee / Centre for Safe Sport
  • UEFA Foundation for Children
  • Rudi Hiti Academy


16.00   Arrival at Hotel Astoria, Bled
16.30   Presentation of the BESST project
16:50   Roundtable: How safe is Slovenian sport? – Comparison with international practice for the protection of athletes
18.00   Questions from the floor and journalists

The roundtable will be held in English.

Guests at the roundtable

Prof. Dr. Nicolette Schipper van Veldhoven – Senior Researcher, Windesheim University of Applied Sciences

Prof. Dr. Schipper van Veldhoven is a renowned expert in the field of safe sport in Europe. She has been involved in various academic and practical initiatives at the University of Applied Sciences Windesheim and the University of Twente, as well as in various sport organisations such as the Netherlands Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF), applying the knowledge she has gained in practice. She conducts and publishes scientific research on safe sport, on which the International Olympic Committee also draws. 

As a senior researcher at the University of Twente, she focuses on risk and safety in sport, involving the use of technology. At the Department of Human Movement and Sport in Windesheim, her research group Sport Pedagogy focuses on positive and safe sport environments. She believes that despite the well-recognised benefits of sport, there are also negative impacts on athletes’ health, well-being and integrity caused by transgressive behaviour. All athletes have the right to safe sport!

Miriam Reijnen – Former Team Leader, Centre for Safe Sport, Netherlands Olympic Committee (until 2023)

Until recently, for several years Team Leader at the Centre for Safe Sport in the Netherlands, an organisation that receives complaints and provides support to sports federations and local clubs on misconduct at all levels of sport, including unacceptable behaviour such as discrimination, bullying, sexual harassment, doping and match-fixing. The Centre also works on abuse prevention and information sharing, such as national media campaigns, education and knowledge sharing. The Centre manages Safeguarding Officers in Sport, Trusted Advisers and a Project Management Team. The Centre also works with the Organisational Integrity and Governance Group of the Netherlands Olympic Committee (NOC*NSF).

Reijnen holds a Master’s degree in Educational Management and Child Psychology from Fontys University of Applied Sciences and several certificates, including the CAOP Management Course and the Integrity Master’s Level 2. She is also a Certified Confidential Counselor in Behavior, Harassment and a Certified Confidential Counselor in Integrity.

Reijnen has been involved in a number of international projects such as:

  • SPOC (Single Point of Contact for Integrity and Governance), where she was the Sexual Harassment Specialist at the EOC
  • “Safeguarding Children in Sport”, Council of Europe Best Practice participant
  • “Safeguarding in sport: reporting misconduct”, IOC Best Practice Participant
  • “Preventing and combating violence against women in sport”, participant of the best practice of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
  • “Safe Sport Allies”, Erasmus+ multiplier participant

As a professional athlete, Reijnen competed in snowboarding.

Dejan Plastovski – Director General, Directorate for Sport, Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport

Plastovski is Director-General of the Directorate for Sport at the Ministry of Economy, Tourism and Sport. Prior to taking up this post, Plastovski worked for eight years at the Football Association of Slovenia, where he was Head of Marketing and Communications, and later Head of Club Football and Media Rights. Prior to joining the FA, he worked for the advertising agency Media Publikum, where he covered, among other things, television advertising during sports broadcasts of all major sporting events. As a footballer, he was a member of all of Slovenia’s under-15 and under-21 national team selections. He graduated from the Faculty of Management in Koper with a master’s thesis that explored the role of management in Slovenian sports clubs.

Dr. Rožle Prezelj  – Athletes’ Ombudsman

Dr. Rožle Prezelj is the first Athletes’ Ombudsman in Slovenia, where he works to protect the rights of athletes and create a safe sporting environment. In his role, he protects the rights of athletes and professionals in sport in accordance with the Law on Sport and focuses on the informal, prompt and confidential handling of complaints and petitions received from athletes or professionals in sport. The Athletes’ Ombudsman also acts as a link between different institutions for better governance and protection in Slovenian sport.

As an athlete, Prezelj set a Slovenian record in the high jump with a personal best of 2.32 m in Maribor in 2012. He has participated in the Olympic Games three times and was a finalist in Beijing in 2008. In 2016, he was elected President of the Athletes’ Commission of the International Athletics Federation, and was an advisor to the President of the International Athletics Federation, Sebastian Coe.

Prof. Dr. Maja Zalaznik – President, Commission for European and International Cooperation, Olympic Committee of Slovenia

Dr Zalaznik (formerly Makovec Brenčič) is a full professor at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Ljubljana, where she heads the International Business programme. She lectures, researches and consults in the fields of international business and marketing. In her various career roles, she has been and is committed to quality knowledge transfer, linking science and education with the economy, and encouraging young people to come up with innovative and breakthrough entrepreneurial ideas.

She is a sports enthusiast, lecturer in sports marketing and supports the development of Slovenian sport. From May 2015 to September 2018, she was the Slovenian Minister of Education, Science and Sport. Internationally, she is active as a consultant and ambassador for the Centre for Sport and Human Rights (CSHR, Geneva), Chair of the OKS Commission for European and International Cooperation, member of the EOC Commission for International Relations and member of the WADA Nomination Committee. In the period 2019 – 2021, she was Slovenia’s representative to the “High Level Reflection Group of UNESCO”.

Prof. Dr. Tanja Kajtna – President, Section for Sport Psychology, Association of Psychologists of Slovenia

Prof. Dr. Kajtna is a former athlete and coach, she is employed at the Faculty of Sport, University of Ljubljana, as an assistant professor at the Chair of Sport Psychology, and as an associate professor at the Faculty of Education, University of Maribor, as a lecturer in psychology courses in the field of coach education.

She is Vice President of the Association of Psychologists of Slovenia, where she is also Chair of the Sport Psychology Section. She has extensive experience in the field of sport psychology from various aspects. As an applied sport psychologist, she advises many athletes at all levels of sport, from junior to elite athletes.

Jani Dvoršak – Director, Slovenian Anti-doping Organisation (SLOADO)

Janko Dvoršak, a sports administrator with a degree from the Faculty of Sports, served in various roles from 1984 on. Initially working in Ljubljana sports associations, he later became Secretary of the Top Sports Committee at the Olympic Committee of Slovenia. He played key roles in Olympic projects and served on expert commissions for the EOC and the IOC. He led Slovenian athletes through numerous international events (eleven European Youth Olympic Festivals, three Mediterranean Games and seven Olympic Games) until 2009, when he transitioned to lead the anti-doping department at the Olympic Committee. He spearheaded the establishment of Slovenia’s national anti-doping organization, SLOADO, in 2013. Under his leadership, SLOADO implemented a successful anti-doping program, conducting nearly 1,000 tests annually. Additionally, he helped create a national preventive strategy for athletes and facilitated mandatory online anti-doping education for athletes over 14. After setting up the Central European Anti-Doping Organization – CEADO, he became its Vice-President. He is also a member of the WADA – ADAMS Testing Working Group.

Dr. Tone Jagodic – Secretary, Ethics Commission, Olympic Committee of Slovenia

Dr Jagodic is the first Secretary General in the history of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia, a position he held for 23 years. A lawyer by profession, he has also worked for many years as legal advisor to the European Olympic Committees (EOC), where he was also a member of the Legal Commission. Since 2020, he has been a member of the EPAS (Council of Europe) Advisory Board.

He is actively involved with the Slovenian Olympic Committee as Secretary of the Commission for Ethical Issues in Sport. He has been appointed as a Single Point of Contact (SPOC) at the Slovenian Olympic Committee as the person responsible for dealing with irregularities in sport in Slovenia. Due to his extensive knowledge of sport and its legal framework, he was also appointed as an arbitrator of the international Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Andreja Leskovšek McQuarrie – Panel moderator

Leskovšek McQuarrie was a Junior World Champion in Alpine skiing, competed at the Sarajevo Olympics and several World Championships. She graduated from the University of Utah in the USA with a degree in Psychology and Economics. She has been involved in the organisation of major international sporting events for more than two decades, including five Olympic Winter Games, and as a consultant for major sporting organisations such as the European Olympic Committees and the International Olympic Committee. She is also President of the Slovenian Women’s Football Club Radomlje and serves on the Women’s Football Commission of the Football Association of Slovenia. She is also a member of two commissions of the Slovenian Olympic Committee, the Commission for Gender Equality and the Commission for European and International Cooperation.

Project partners

Sönke Schadwinkel – European Olympic Academies

Executive Director of the European Olympic Academies (EOA), Schadwinkel holds a master’s degree in International Sport Development and Politics from the German University of Sport in Cologne. He joined the European Olympic Academies shortly after its creation and has played a decisive role in shaping the organisation’s development. The EOA aims to bring together the national Olympic Academies of the European continent to promote Olympic values, philosophy and ideals. Currently, 36 European countries are members, including the Slovenian Olympic Academy as a founding member.

Marleen Haandrikman, MSc – Windesheim University of Applied Sciences

Haandrikman is a young researcher in the field of sport, risk and safety at the University of Twente and the University of Applied Sciences Windesheim. Her expertise is in the field of sport, risk and safety psychology, as she also teaches in this field at the University of Twente. Haandrikmaan believes that the importance of psychology in the context of safeguarding should be emphasised in order to contribute to the resilience of many actors in the sport community (such as athletes) and thus empower them.

Alenka Hiti – Rudi Hiti Academy

Hiti has a degree in sports management and is a certified practitioner in the field of communication and media in sport. Since 2007, she has been involved in the development and management of ice hockey in Slovenia. In 2015, she founded the Rudi Hiti Academy, which focuses on grassroots development of ice hockey. In the framework of the Rudi Hiti Academy, she has been leading and managing successful Erasmus+ projects for the last few years. She is also a member of the Gender Equality Commission of the Slovenian Olympic Committee.

Peter Dokl – Department for Athletes and Olympic Values of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia

Dokl was a member of the Slovenian biathlon team from 2004 to 2014. He competed at the Olympic Games in Vancouver and Sochi, and at many World and European Championships. After his competitive career ended in 2014, he took up a role in marketing and later as Head of Athletes and Olympic Values at the Slovenian Olympic Committee. He is an active promoter of sport and Olympic values among young people and participates in the BESST project as a representative of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia.

Gustavo Harada – IGNITX

Harada is co-founder and CFO and Chief Strategy Officer of Ignitx OÜ. He has extensive experience in international relations and project management in elite sport, having worked with the Brazilian Olympic Committee on every Olympic Games since Athens 2004. In 2017, Harada led the development and implementation of one of the first National Olympic Committees’ Safe Sport Policies following the recently introduced International Olympic Committee directives. At the global Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), he is the Director of National Olympic Committee and AWBG Relations.

Carine N’Koue – UEFA Foundation for Children

As a former athlete (athletics – Swiss national team), N’Koue has always seen the power of sport for the good of society. After a Master’s degree in Economics and a postgraduate degree in Sports Management, she has focused her career on implementing projects to improve the lives of children. Her work has taken her to several countries such as South Africa and refugee camps in Jordan, where she implemented the UEFA Asian Football Development Project.

She is currently responsible for projects at the UEFA Foundation for Children. She spoke at the UEFA Congress on issues related to children’s rights in sport. During her time at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as Sport for Hope Project Manager, she carried out an analysis and evaluation of actions related to Olympic values and the impact of social projects funded by the IOC. She was also part of the team that organised the first International Forum on Sport, Peace and Development.

Erik Van Haaren – Centre for Safe Sport at the Netherlands Olympic Committee

Van Haaren is a sports psychologist and consultant at the Netherlands Olympic Committee and Sports Federation (NOC*NSF) and Vice-Chair of the Youth Committee of ENGSO (European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation), the leading voice for voluntary grassroots sport in Europe. He works at the Centre for Safe Sport in the Netherlands. Van Haaren is very active in various initiatives related to providing a safe sport environment and improving the mental fitness of athletes.