Olympic Highlights 06/03/2020

 IOC / Greg Martin IOC / Greg Martin



During its second meeting in 2020 at Olympic House in Lausanne, the IOC Executive Board (EB) discussed the coronavirus situation in view of the forthcoming editions of the Olympic Games. There were other major announcements on the gender equality and sustainability at the Olympic Games and several other institutional matters.  

Looking ahead to Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the IOC EB meeting started with a report on all the measures taken so far to address the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation, which was followed by a comprehensive discussion. A joint task force had already been created in mid-February, involving the IOC, Tokyo 2020, the host city of Tokyo, the government of Japan and the World Health Organization (WHO). The IOC EB appreciates and supports the measures being taken, which constitute an important part of Tokyo’s plans to host safe and secure Games. The EB expressed its full commitment to the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and encourages all athletes to continue to prepare for the Games. Read here the full IOC statement.

In addition to its update on the coronavirus situation, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee updated the EB on the many advances that have been made over the last few months: the approval of marathon course, the adoption of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Truce resolution, the unveiling of its Games’ motto, the great success in tickets sales to name just a few. More info here.

The IOC EB made two key decisions to draw even more attention to gender equality at the Olympic Summer Games. In order to ensure full gender representation across the teams from the 206 NOCs, the EB decided that all NOCs should be represented by a minimum of one female and one male athlete at all editions of the Games of the Olympiad. This will be applied for the first time ever at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Following a proposal of IOC Member Gerardo Werthein, the IOC EB also approved a change to the IOC’s protocol guidelines to allow one female athlete and one male athlete of each NOC to bear the flag jointly during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Summer Games. All NOCs are encouraged to make use of this opportunity. More info here.

On the topic of sustainability, the EB decided that the Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games will be “climate positive” from 2030 onwards. This decision builds on the measures taken so far by the IOC, working with the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games to ensure that all upcoming Olympic Games are carbon neutral, and have a significantly reduced carbon footprint. In addition, the IOC will create an “Olympic Forest”, which will contribute to the UN-backed Great Green Wall project in Africa and help the IOC move towards becoming a climate-positive organisation. Full details here.

The Organising Committee of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 also began its report with an update on the coronavirus situation as far as their Games are concerned. They thanked the IOC for its support and reassured the Board that the preparatory works for the Games would be delivered on time and up to standard. The EB reiterated its support to Beijing 2022 and thanked the Chinese organisers for their close collaboration over the past few weeks. More info here.

With regard to the Olympic Games Paris 2024, the IOC EB approved Paris 2024’s proposal to have Place de la Concorde as the venue for an urban sports cluster and Tahiti as the venue for surfing. The venues were approved by the Paris 2024 Executive Board on 12 December 2019 before being proposed to the IOC. While the exact sports and disciplines to be hosted in Place de la Concorde, which is a new temporary venue during the Games, will be confirmed in December 2020 following the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024 expects the stadium to provide a totally new experience and to attract new types of spectators. Regarding the surfing events in Tahiti, the EB decision followed an in-depth review of the venue to ensure that a stringent environmental framework would be used and the best sporting conditions would be met. Full details here.

There were also brief reports about the progress of the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026 and the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028 given by the Chairs of their respective Coordination Commissions, Sari Essayah and Nicole Hoevertsz. 

In the year that the Youth Olympic Games celebrate their 10-year anniversary, record digital coverage and engagement for a winter edition of the YOG were announced during the IOC EB meeting during the final analysis of Lausanne 2020, just over one month after the Games concluded. Lausanne 2020 also marked the first time the Olympic Channel operated during the Winter YOG, ensuring global coverage for the YOG as a worldwide digital rights-holder. Full details here.

For the first time a report from the Chair of the Future Host Commission for the Games of the Olympiad, Kristin Kloster Aasen, was presented to the EB. She explained that, even though they are 12 years away, there is already a healthy interest in the organisation of the Olympic Games 2032 – and the same is true for the Youth Olympic Games.

The IOC EB confirmed its commitment to develop a comprehensive and cohesive human rights strategy for the IOC’s area of responsibility. Indeed, the EB welcomed the overarching recommendation presented formally by Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Rachel Davis, Vice-President of Shift - a leading non-profit centre of expertise on business and human rights - to the IOC President in February.  More details here.

The IOC EB was also updated on the consultation process regarding “athletes’ inclusion on the basis of sex characteristics and gender identity”. The aim of the process is to develop a framework of voluntary guidelines for athletes and IFs regarding this topic, which has, in the past few years, been informed by new developments, data, research and learnings in the scientific and human rights sectors. A change of the existing guidelines – the 2015 Consensus Statement – at this stage would mean a change of rules during an ongoing competition with the qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 already underway. Such a change, therefore, would be neither ethically nor legally admissible. Furthermore, it was always clear that the IOC could not change its existing guidelines while the consultation is ongoing Full details here.

Concerning the IOC Session 2023, the EB decided that Mumbai, India will be put forward to a vote of the IOC Members to host the Session. The decision will be taken at the 136th IOC Session in Tokyo in July. A report from the IOC Session Evaluation Commission, which visited Mumbai in October 2019, was presented by Ser Miang Ng. More info here.

The EB had also to accept the resignation of Tamás Aján from his status as an IOC honorary member. Full details here.

The EB also accepted 11 applications for a change of nationality. The EB has granted the requested exemption to the three-year waiting period following the consent provided by the respective IFs and NOCs. More details here.

President Thomas Bach met with the Acting President of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), Ursula Garza. They discussed the current IWF situation and the preparations of the Olympic weightlifting tournament at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

IOC / Greg Martin
In his meeting with the President of the Swiss NOC, Jürg Stahl, the IOC President discussed the follow up of the successful Youth Olympic Winter Games Lausanne 2020.

He also had meetings with IOC EB members Ser Miang Ng, Robin Mitchell, Nicole Hoevertsz and Kirsty Coventry, and IOC Members Marisol Casado, Mamadou Ndiaye and Mustapha Berraf, during which they discussed various Olympic-related matters.

Other Olympic news

Getty Images

The IOC paid tribute to the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar (photo), who has died on 4 March at the age of 100. Pérez de Cuéllar, who was UN Secretary-General from 1982 to 1991, was one of the founding members of the IOC Ethics Commission in 1999. Praising him for his contribution, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “The Olympic Movement owes him great debt of gratitude. He was one of the fathers of the IOC Ethics Commission, which is now appropriately chaired by one of his successors, former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. He made a great contribution to the strong reputation and governance of the IOC.”

Ahead of International Women’s Day (8 March), the IOC revealed the names of the six winners of the Women and Sport Awards 2020. The winners are: for the World trophy: Skateistan - a non-profit organisation that uses skateboarding and education to empower children, especially young girls; for Africa, Salima Souakri (Algeria); for the Americas: Guylaine Demers (Canada); for Asia: Kim Jin-Ho (Republic of Korea); for Europe: Else Trangbæk (Denmark); and for Oceania: Kitty Chiller (Australia). For the IOC President, “Each project is a lifelong commitment to advancing gender equality on and off the field of play. Each winner demonstrates the power of sport to make gender equality a reality.” All six winners will officially receive their awards at a ceremony to be held later on this year. The winners were selected from among 30 shortlisted candidates by the IOC Women in Sport Commission chaired by Lydia Nsekera. Full news release here.

International Federations


FIBA Americas unveiled its new headquarters in Miami, Florida (USA), the city known as the “Gateway to the Americas”. Numerous guests were present for the ceremony, including the President of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA), Hamane Niang, FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis, president of FIBA Americas, Carol Callan and FIBA Americas executive director Carlos Alves. The new headquarters provide around 400 m2 of open-plan office space, and are located just a few kilometres from Miami City Hall. More details here.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) has reached an agreement with Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to permit players on MLB 40-man rosters to participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the respective qualifiers. Under the agreement, National Team roster sizes will increase from 24 players to 26 for the upcoming WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, which will take place in Surprise and Tempe (Arizona, USA) from 22 to 26 March, and the final qualifier due to take place in Taichung and Douliu (Chinese Taipei) from 17 to 21 June, to safeguard the health of players and prevent potential fatigue. Read the full press release here.

National Olympic Committees


The NOC of Argentina, presided over by IOC Member Gerardo Werthein, announced the death of Olympic athlete Braian Toledo (photo) on 27 February at the age of 26. Considered an extremely promising international javelin athlete, Braian Toledo became javelin Youth Olympic Champion at the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in 2010, at the age of 16. He won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara in 2011, and silver at the junior world championships in Barcelona in 2012. He took part in two Olympic Games, London 2012 and Rio 2016, where he reached the finals of the javelin event. Braian Toledo was committed to helping others, and became involved in the Arriba los Pibes NGO, which provided nutrition and educational workshops for 90 children in the district where he grew up. More details here.

NOC of Azerbaijan
On 28 February the NOC of Azerbaijan signed a sponsorship agreement with new partners, within the framework of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. The event was attended by prominent figures from the sports community, Olympians and Paralympians, partners, media representatives and senior government officials. The agreement runs until the end of 2021. The NOC has also signed a cooperation agreement with the National Paralympic Committee of Azerbaijan, in preparation for the 2020 Games. For the first time, Azerbaijan’s Olympic and Paralympic teams will be united as TeamAZE for all promotional campaigns within the framework of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. More info at www.noc-aze.org.

NOC of El Salvador
A sports administration course was organised by the Salvadorean Olympic Academy, the educational arm of the NOC of El Salvador, from 28 February to 1 March. The aim of the course was to give leaders and staff of national sports federations the opportunity to learn more about sports administration, the principles, structure and leadership of the Olympic Movement, Olympic Agenda 2020 and the Olympic values. The course took place with the support of Olympic Solidarity. More info at www.teamesa.org.

Spanish NOC
The president of the Spanish NOC, Alejandro Blanco, and his Polish counterpart Andrzej Krasnicki, recently held a working meeting at the Spanish NOC headquarters in Madrid. The two leaders focused on the policies developed by their respective NOCs in terms of sport, training, management, values, solidarity, sustainability and marketing within the Olympic Movement. They also discussed the possibility of the national sports federations of the two countries cooperating in an elite sport programme. The scheme would see athletes, coaches, referees and judges take part in training camps, and practical and theoretical sessions with top professionals in each area. More info at www.coe.es.

Jordan Olympic Committee
The Asia and Oceania boxing qualifier for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will take place in Amman, Jordan, from 3 to 11 March. The event, organised by the IOC’s Boxing Task Force and the Jordan Olympic Committee (JOC), will see 151 men and 70 women from 35 countries compete for 63 Tokyo 2020 places. For more info, see www.joc.jo.

Moroccan NOC
As part of its training and support strategy for the Moroccan royal federations, the Moroccan NOC held a seminar on organising sports projects with three international experts from INUKSUIT, a company put forward by Olympic Solidarity. More than 30 federations were represented at this seminar, which took place in two phases: on 18 and 19 February for the national technical directors and the coaches of the national teams; and on 20 and 21 February for the federations’ sports leaders. The seminar aims to provide participants with concrete tools to help them better design and prepare their sports projects. More info here.

Venezuelan NOC

Over one hundred physical education teachers took a school volleyball coaching course at the headquarters of the Venezuelan NOC in Caracas. The course was organised with the support of the national ministry of education and the Venezuelan volleyball federation. NOC president Eduardo Álvarez gave a presentation on strategic management in sport. More details here.

NOC of Zambia
The NOC of Zambia (NOCZ) hosted a two-day marketing workshop for Olympic sports organisations. Participants from 14 National Sports Federations attended the workshop. At the opening ceremony, NOCZ President Alfred Foloko emphasised that this workshop is a monumental step for the Olympic family, as it is the first ever of its kind to be hosted by the NOCZ, and aims to empower federations with knowledge and skills that will unlock the marketing potential of each individual sport. The workshop covered topics such as the Foundations of Sport Marketing; Brand Marketing and Visibility; Communication Strategy & Policy; and Negotiating Contracts. NOCZ Secretary General Boniface Kambikambi and Executive Director Brenda M. Chipande were also present at the opening ceremony.

Organising Committees for the Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020

On 6 March, the Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Tokyo 2020) announced the completion of all new permanent venues for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. A total of 43 venues — eight new permanent venues, 25 existing facilities and 10 temporary venues — will be used at the Tokyo 2020 Games. With the completion of all new permanent venues, the overall preparation of all venues is progressing on schedule. Full details here.

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