IOC President calls on National Olympic Committees “to choose the path of unity and peace”

19 Oct 2022
IOC News IOC President

In his State of the Olympic Movement address to the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), IOC President Thomas Bach stressed the overriding need for unity in tackling the global challenges facing the sporting world following the Russian invasion of Ukraine (full text of the speech here).

IOC / Greg Martin IOC / Greg Martin

Speaking at the ANOC General Assembly in Seoul, Republic of Korea, he highlighted that, nearly eight months since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the reasons for the sanctions and the protective measures issued by the IOC continue to persist.

He explained that the war in Ukraine continues to represent a blatant violation of the principles of the Olympic Charter and that therefore the sanctions against the Russian and Belarusian states and governments imposed by the IOC “must and will remain firmly in place.”

President Bach reiterated that, upon the outbreak of the war, the IOC also had to react with protective measures to safeguard the integrity of international sports competition from government interference. He said: “The functioning of the international sports system is at stake. Some governments were and are undermining our autonomy by deciding who would be allowed to participate in international competitions – and who not.” 

At the same time, he stressed that this situation presents the Olympic Movement with an unsolvable dilemma: “We cannot fully live up to our Olympic mission, which is to protect the athletes and to unite the entire world in peaceful competition.  The only way to protect this mission was to recommend the non-participation of athletes just because of their passport.”

IOC President Thomas Bach delivers a key note address at the XXVI ANOC General Assembly Seoul 2022 IOC / Greg Martin

He explained that the IOC had had to take action to protect the international sports system from the full politicisation of sport. Addressing the presidents and secretaries general of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), he told them, “the fact that we cannot overcome our dilemma at this moment must not only not prevent us, it must even encourage us, to explore ways of how we can overcome it in the future.”

And he made an appeal to all NOCs: “Let us not divide our precious Olympic Movement. Let us together walk this path of unity and peace. Let us together live up to our Olympic mission. Keep following the sanctions and protective measures. Do not do less, because doing less means you divide the Olympic Movement. Do not do more, because doing more means you divide the Olympic Movement.

Later in the speech, President Bach went on to say that, on the foundation of this unity, the Olympic Movement can look ahead to the future with great confidence. In his outlook for the Olympic Movement, he said that the IOC could face growing uncertainty in the global economy from a position of strength, noting that the IOC will fully deliver on its financial commitments made to the NOCs. In light of the difficult economic times, he also urged the NOCs to review their activities and initiatives from the point of view of financial sustainability and the responsibility of safeguarding the sustainable future of the planet.

Pointing to the growing excitement over upcoming Olympic Games he told the audience,

“The Olympic Games Paris 2024 will mark the beginning of a new era: Olympic Games inspired by and aligned with Olympic Agenda from start to finish. They will be more inclusive, more youthful, more urban, more sustainable and the very first with full gender parity. And all of this in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.”

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