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David Shoemaker, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, speaks in Mississauga, Ont., on Oct. 7, 2019.Tijana Martin/The Canadian Press

The Canadian Olympic Committee has signed an agreement to join Abuse-Free Sport, Canada’s new independent program to address maltreatment in sport.

The COC and its stakeholders will be able to access services of the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC) by Dec. 21 at the latest, following a transition period.

“The COC recognizes that safe sport is everyone’s responsibility,” David Shoemaker, the COC’s CEO and general secretary. “We’re fully committed to doing our part to support a growing national movement that is changing the culture of sport in this country.

“The sport community has been asking for just this kind of consistent national program. It is an important step forward for everyone involved in sport in Canada.”

During the transition period, the COC will adopt the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS), and make the required policy changes.

OSIC was launched in June to perform independent investigations of claims of abuse and maltreatment in sport. But the office can only handle complaints from sports that have signed agreements.

Canada’s Sport Minister Pascale St-Onge has set a deadline of April, 2023 for national sport organizations to sign on.

Volleyball Canada, Weightlifting Canada, the Canada Games Council, Canadian Sport for Life, and the Canadian Sport Centre Atlantic have signed agreements. Dozens more national sport organizations are in negotiations.

The COC said prior to Dec. 21, anyone who has experienced or witnessed abuse can access independent third-party services through the COC’s independent case manager Rubin Thomlinson.

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