IOC President Bach visits National Olympic Committees of Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Egypt

26 Sep 2022
IOC News IOC President

After a visit to Italy to the Italian National Olympic Committee in Rome (on 16 September), and attending the FEI Equestrian World Championships in Pratoni the next day, President Bach visited the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Egypt (from 18 to 24 September).

IOC President Bach visits National Olympic Committees of Jordan, Palestine, Israel and Egypt IOC / Greg Martin

Having been welcomed in Amman, Jordan, by IOC Executive Board member and Jordanian NOC President Prince Feisal Al Hussein, President Bach went to Ramallah in Palestine as a guest of the Palestinian NOC.

IOC President Thomas Bach visits the sports centre in Palestine where demonstrations from various sports were seen. IOC / Greg Martin

There he was welcomed by NOC President Jibril Rajoub. In a meeting with the President of the Palestinian National Council, Rawhi Fattouh, the leaders discussed the role of sport in society and the importance of strict political neutrality for sports organisations.   

The next day, the President met members of the Executive Board at the headquarters of the Palestinian NOC. Moving on to the Palestinian Football Federation, President Bach was introduced to the captains of the women's and men's national football teams. It was then time to meet young athletes at the Faisal Al-Husseini Stadium, where there were demonstrations of football, taekwondo, karate, volleyball, fencing and gymnastics. 

Later, giving a lecture about the Olympic values and ethics, President Bach told an audience of 700 athletes, young people and sports administrators: “We are one Olympic community. We take care of one another. We stand together, in solidarity. The universality of the Olympic Games can only happen if every NOC, every sport, and every athlete shares and respects this principle and spirit of solidarity. Solidarity is at the heart of everything we do. Solidarity fuels our mission to make the world a better place through sport.”

IOC President Thomas Bach meets with Palestinian Athletes IOC / Greg Martin

Later, he met a number of Palestinian athletes and champions, some trying to qualify for the Olympic Games Paris 2024. They told the President about the difficulties they faced in training and preparing for sports competitions. The President said the IOC would continue to strengthen its efforts to alleviate these issues.

After this, President Bach returned to Jordan from where he went to the NOC of Israel, where he honoured the former President of the NOC, Igal Carmi, with the Olympic Order.  He was joined throughout the visit by the current NOC President, Yael Arad, a long-term member of the IOC Marketing Commission. The next day began with a visit to the grave of IOC member in Israel Alex Gilady. After laying a wreath, following Jewish tradition, President Bach left a stone on his grave, a stone from Olympic House. At the ceremony he was joined by Mr Gilady’s daughter, Galia Gilady, and his long-time assistant, Tal Shalem.

IOC President Thomas Bach meets with the families of the victims from the Munich 1972 terror attack IOC / Greg Martin

Visiting the headquarters of the Israeli NOC and the Israeli Olympic museum, the President also held a meeting with the Executive Board of the Israeli NOC with an extensive question-and-answer session.

In a lunch with the families of the 11 victims of the terrorist attack at the Olympic Games Munich 1972, President Bach offered Olympic rings to each of them as a mark of respect.

IOC President Thomas Bach visits Yad Veshem IOC / Greg Martin

The next day, President Bach was at a wreath-laying ceremony at the holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem, where he also visited the children's memorial and history museum of the holocaust. During the ceremony, President Bach said: “This is the unwavering commitment of the entire Olympic Movement: we will do everything we can to ensure that this can never be repeated.

“We stand against any kind of discrimination. In the Olympic Games we are all equal. We strive for peace. We stand together in solidarity. We unite the one and only human race in a peaceful competition – the Olympic Games. In this way, we show that the values of our shared humanity and peace are stronger than all the forces of evil and hatred.”

Later, the IOC President had lunch with the President of the Republic of Israel, Isaac Herzog, and the Sports Minister, Chili Tropper. They discussed the international situation and matters of mutual interest.

IOC President Thomas Bach attends the 50th anniversary of the Munich attack commemorative ceremony in Isreal IOC / Greg Martin

In the evening, President Bach attended a special memorial service for the 11 athletes and coaches murdered at the Olympic Games Munich 1972, addressing the families of the victims in the presence of the President of Israel.  In his address he said: “We share the pain of the relatives of the 11 victims. We feel with the survivors, who until today suffer from the trauma of this attack. Yet our condolences can hardly ease the pain of the families who lost their son, brother, father, beloved spouse or love of their life to this cowardly attack.

“Despite this attack, you did not turn your back on the Olympic Games. Israeli athletes have in fact taken part in all subsequent Olympic Games. For this, the Olympic Movement is forever grateful.

“We are even more grateful to you because of the pain it caused you, to have to wait for such a long time until the IOC finally commemorated the victims in a dignified way after the Olympic Games Munich 1972. For this pain and anguish that we caused, I am truly sorry.”

Later, he laid a wreath at a memorial to the victims of the massacre, where he was once again joined by the families, Israeli Olympians and members of the Israeli Olympic Committee.

IOC President Thomas Bach visits the Zaatari refugee camp on the outskirts of Amman to interact with Refugees and visit some sports facilities IOC / Greg Martin

Heading for the capital of Jordan, Amman, the next day, President Bach visited the Za'atari Refugee Camp, which is home to more than 80,000 Syrian refugees. At the camp he was able to see the work of the Olympic Refuge Foundation and the Jordanian Generations for Peace charity.

IOC President Thomas Bach visits the Jordan NOC Preparation centre with IOC Member Prince Feisal IOC / Greg Martin

Later, President Bach and Prince Feisal signed a Letter of Intent between the Olympic Refuge Foundation and Generations for Peace to continue to strengthen their cooperation. The signing took place at the JOC Olympic Preparation Centre, where the President was able to meet a number of young Jordanian athletes as well as athletes from Brazil and Egypt.

In Amman, the President was welcomed by the Jordanian Prime Minister, Bisher Al Khasawneh. The two leaders discussed the importance of sport in education and the ability of sport to increase solidarity within societies and between societies.

The President held a meeting with Prince Feisal in his capacity as Regent and as President of the Jordanian NOC. President Bach thanked him very warmly for greatly facilitating the visits to all four NOCs in the region. The two also had comprehensive discussions on Olympic matters and the geo-political situation.

IOC / Greg Martin

The last leg of the Middle East tour took President Bach to Egypt. In Cairo, he was welcomed by the President of the International Handball Federation, Hassan Moustafa, and by the President of the Egyptian NOC, Hesham Mohamed Hatab. Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) President and IOC member Mustapha Berraf also accompanied President Bach throughout the visit to Egypt. On arrival, together they met a number of Egyptian athletes, including members of the Egyptian Athletes’ Commission, led by its chair, Aya Medany, who is also a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission.

The President visited the Egyptian International Olympic City, a new sporting complex with a stadium seating 90,000 people, training facilities, indoor sports halls and a range of sporting venues and facilities. Egyptian Sports Minister Ashraf Sobhy was present throughout the visit.

In a meeting with the President of the Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian Head of State announced his country’s interest in hosting the Olympic Games 2036. President Bach welcomed the Egyptian announcement, particularly with the recent success of Egyptian athletes at the Olympic Games, doubling their medal haul; with the successful staging of a number of world championships and other international events; and with the recent sports infrastructure-building programme underway in the country.

IOC / Greg Martin

He then visited the Egyptian NOC headquarters and Olympic Museum where, together with Hassan Moustafa and Mustapha Berraf, the President met members of the Executive Committee and National Federation Presidents in Egypt, and again had time to speak to a number of Egyptian athletes.

After leaving Egypt, the President headed for Tokyo, Japan, to attend the State Funeral for the former Prime Minister of Japan, Abe Shinzo (on 27 September). Finally, he will return to Italy for a visit to the Vatican and to give a keynote address at the Vatican Sport for All Conference (on 30 September).

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