President Bach headed for Fiji on Monday to take part in the celebrations marking 40 years of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) and to open their headquarters. The first stop was Nadi for the ONOC General Assembly, where the President praised the solidarity of the Oceania NOCs.
“Your solidarity has set a new benchmark amongst the NOCs,” said President Bach, “with the challenges you had to face to keep sport alive and to allow the athletes to continue to train under harsh restrictions. You had to prepare your athletes for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, to get them there, and overcome so many obstacles. For this, I can only express my deep heartfelt thanks and admiration,” he added.
Accompanied by IOC Executive Board member and ONOC President Robin Mitchell throughout his time in Fiji, the next day he headed to Suva, where he met the Fijian President, Ratu Williame Katonivere, and later the Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama. With both, he discussed climate change, sports development in the region and the great success of Fijian rugby. On climate change, President Bach informed them of the IOC’s decision to be climate positive by 2024, and for the Olympic Games to achieve the same level by 2030. He was also able to inform them about the decision by NOCs from Oceania to join the United Nations’ “Sport for Climate Action Framework”, which now numbers more than 300 sports organisations around the world.
Whilst in Suva, the IOC President joined Mitchell for the inauguration of the new ONOC headquarters, before trying out cricket and rugby with young people from the capital.
In the evening, there was a full celebration of the 40 years of ONOC, with a panel including the IOC President, Robin Mitchell and honorary member Kevan Gosper.
The next day, the President moved on to Tonga, visiting the Pacific nation to show solidarity, following the volcanic eruption and tsunami that hit the island in January causing extensive damage. President Bach was guest of honour at the NOC headquarters, where aid to help rebuild sporting infrastructure and provide new equipment destroyed in the disaster was discussed. The President also met Olympians and watched some sports demonstrations.
Later, at the Prime Minister’s office, he told Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni about the solidarity the IOC is offering.
“We are here to show our solidarity with Tonga and the people of Tonga,” he told him. “We want to see first-hand where we can help,” he added. Projects already under discussion include replacing beach volleyball equipment lost when it was washed away in the tsunami, and the renovation of an open-water swimming facility.
At the same time, President Bach informed the Prime Minister about the decision as part of Olympic Agenda 2020 that the IOC would be climate positive by 2024, and the Olympic Games by 2030.
The IOC President also talked about the difficult journey back from the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 undertaken by the Olympic team, many of whom did not return to the island for four months, with one athlete who returned only two weeks ago. This was a story often shared by athletes from all over the region.
“This effort, and the solidarity between NOCs, shows great dedication to the Olympic Games and to the Olympic values,” said President Bach.
Arriving in the Cook Islands the next day, President was met by the NOC President, Hugh Graham. President Bach also met the Prime Minister of the island nation, Mark Brown, where they discussed sports development on the islands and the positive impact of the Cook Islands Games to bring the islanders together at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. They also discussed the IOC’s climate-positive proposals for the organisation by 2024, and for the Olympic Games by 2030. Earlier, he met the Governor General, Tom Marsters.
A tour of sports facilities and a meeting with Cook Islands athletes followed. The President visited the National Stadium and Arena and the newly refurbished NOC headquarters, which includes a small Olympic museum. The IOC has agreed to help fund an Olympic High Performance Centre and provide equipment. Later, the President met the Athletes' Commission and discussed the strengthening of athletes' representation, and also watched some volleyball. The visit was rounded off with a reception hosted by the NOC and attended by the Prime Minister.
The next day, President Bach was able to briefly visit Brisbane, where he met leaders of the city and state and members of the newly constituted Organising Committee.
The IOC President also dropped in on some sports competition at the Queensland Fencing Association Schools Competition, which is supported by the “Olympics Unleashed” programme run by the Australian Olympic Committee. After talking to young fencers he also took part in some sport. He was accompanied by IOC member and Chair of the Brisbane 2032 Coordination Commission, Kirsty Coventry. They were joined by the Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Adrian Schrinner, and the CEO of the Australian Olympic Committee, Matt Carroll. Together with Kirsty Coventry, they later walked through the city looking at where some of the venues for the Olympic Games Brisbane 2032 will be situated.
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