Olympic Highlights 07/06/2022

IOC / Greg Martin



IOC President Thomas Bach was in the Spanish capital Madrid last week, for the signing by the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) of a new landmark Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

This MoU, signed during the meeting of the ORF Foundation Board at the headquarters of the Spanish Olympic Committee, broadens their cooperation and reaffirms the commitment of the ORF and UNHCR to leverage sport to protect and support young people affected by displacement worldwide. It came only a few days after it was announced that the ORF and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team had been honoured by the prestigious 2022 Princess of Asturias Award for Sport (see also under “Other Olympic News”).

“In these difficult times, we need the mission of sport to promote peace and solidarity more than ever,” said the IOC President, who is also Chair of the ORF. “UNHCR has been an unfailing partner in fulfilling this mission. Our UNHCR partners have told us many times that, whenever they ask refugees what they need most after food and shelter, the answer is almost always sport,” Bach continued. “That is because sport is about so much more than physical activity. Sport is empowerment. Sport is inclusion. Sport is respect. Sport is health. Sport is building confidence. Sport is a positive mindset. This is what the mission of the ORF is all about – giving hope through sport to those uprooted by conflict, persecution or disaster,” he concluded.

“At this difficult moment, when for the first time more than one hundred million people have been forced to flee their homes and where responses to crises in the Global North and Global South are quite uneven, it is clearer than ever that sport has a very important role to play in refugee response,” said Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Vice-Chair of the ORF. Grandi continued: “Sport doesn’t just bring people together, but can provide hope and opportunity and rally people behind the refugee cause. This is certainly a key role that the IOC has played and that the ORF can play moving forward.” 

IOC / Greg Martin

At their meeting, the ORF Foundation Board members heard updates on the implementation of the ORF’s new strategic plan and activities that were rolled out in 2021. They also assessed the progress made in each of these areas and in the context of the Foundation’s aim for one million young people affected by displacement to have access to safe sport by 2024. The Foundation Board discussed the importance of the ORF’s partnership-based approach in creating sustained change, and its growing number of stakeholders through the Sport for Refugees Coalition. 

IOC / Greg Martin

The choice of Madrid to host the meeting was fitting, as in 2021 the Spanish Olympic Committee opened the Alejandro Blanco Sports Centre for Refugees, in the suburb of Getafe. At the end of the meeting, the ORF, the Spanish Olympic Committee and the Spanish Ministry of Inclusion, Welfare and Immigration signed an MoU pledging to work together to support the centre and maximise its impact.

IOC / Greg Martin

This was followed by a visit to the centre, during which the Board members could see how it is serving as an integration tool for refugees. The centre is part-funded by Olympic Solidarity and the IOC, while it has also received support from other members of the Olympic Movement, including the International Judo Federation, which has provided a tatami. During the visit, IOC President met refugees with Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Alejandro Blanco, President of the Spanish Olympic Committee. Read the full news release about the MoU and the ORF Foundation Board meeting here.

IOC / Greg Martin

The IOC President also met Felipe VI, the King of Spain and Olympic sailor, at the Zarzuela Palace in Madrid. The two men discussed the upcoming Olympic Games and other topics of mutual interest.

IOC / Greg Martin

Earlier at the Moncloa Palace, President Bach had a meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. The two leaders discussed the current international situation and the work being done to support refugees and to help Ukrainian sport. The Prime Minister expressed full appreciation for the position and initiatives being taken by the IOC. They also noted the importance of safeguarding the European sports model, which both agreed was vital to the development of sport on the continent. The intention of Spain to host the Olympic Winter Games 2030 was also addressed.  

For both meetings, President Bach was accompanied by Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco; IOC Members Juan Antonio Samaranch, Marisol Casado and Pau Gasol; and the IOC President’s Senior Advisor, Pere Miró.

IOC / Greg Martin

While in Madrid, the IOC President visited the headquarters of Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) and Olympic Channel Services, before meeting the OBS management team including CEO Yiannis Exarchos. The topics discussed included the success of the broadcast coverage of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and the preparations for the upcoming editions of the Games.

During his time in Madrid, the IOC President also met IOC honorary member Olegario Vázquez Raña.

At Olympic House, IOC President Thomas Bach and the President of the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), Riccardo Fraccari, discussed the upcoming editions of the Olympic Games and the current international situation.   

President Bach and the President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), Francesco Ricci Bitti, discussed the upcoming editions of the Olympic Games and the current international situation.

In a phone call, the IOC President spoke with German NOC (DOSB) President Thomas Weikert about various topics of mutual interest, including the forthcoming editions of the Olympic Games.  

The IOC President held a meeting with the President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), IOC Member Mustapha Berraf. Their discussions focused on the preparations of African athletes for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026, as well as the African Games and international relations.

IOC / Greg Martin

The IOC President received the Minister for Youth and Sport of Niger, Sékou Doro Adamou, at Olympic House. Accompanied by IOC Member and ANOCA President Mustapha Berraf, the Minister presented President Bach with the Medal for Sporting Merit, Niger’s highest sporting distinction. They discussed various topics of mutual interest, in particular Niger’s achievements in the field of education through sport.   

President Bach also discussed a number of topical Olympic issues with IOC Vice-President Ser Miang Ng and IOC Member Sergii Bubka.

President Bach welcomed French Olympic historian Jean Durry – founder of the French National Sports Museum and author of several works about Pierre de Coubertin – to Olympic House.


IOC Executive Board member Prince Feisal Al Hussein was recently appointed Founding Chairman of the new Safeguarding Council of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). He is joined by IOC Member Danka Bartekova, who was also appointed as a member of the Council. (See also under “IFs”).


Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia has joined the Board of the Olympic Refuge Foundation. Gebbia has extensive experience supporting refugees around the world, and he is a member of USA for UNHCR’s Advisory Council. This announcement comes after Airbnb.org, Gebbia’s non-profit organisation, said it would offer free, short-term housing for up to 100,000 refugees fleeing Ukraine. Six months after announcing its commitment to offer free, temporary housing to 20,000 Afghan refugees, Airbnb.org met that goal and extended it, with the hope of providing housing to another 20,000 refugees around the world. Full news release here.


The Olympic Refuge Foundation and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team have been honoured with the 2022 Princess of Asturias Award for Sports. The jury acknowledged that the IOC Refugee Olympic Team exemplifies the values of sport, which are integration, education, solidarity and humanity, and represents a message of hope for the world. Full news release here.

Olympic Solidarity and a number of IFs have launched a new mentorship and training programme to help female coaches progress into high-performance coaching roles at national, continental and international competitions, including major events such as the Olympic Games. The Women in Sport High Performance Pathway, also known as the WISH Programme, has been developed in coordination with a team of specialists based at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, with the aim of supporting female coaches who have already demonstrated potential and ambition to succeed in gaining key roles at the highest level of their sport. Full news release here.

The first edition of the “IOC Certificate: Safeguarding Officer in Sport” has concluded successfully. A total of 69 students from 38 countries across all five continents were enrolled in this course. Of these participants, 84 per cent were from NOCs, IFs and National Federations, and 95 per cent are or will be responsible for their organisations’ safeguarding policy. All NOCs could enrol one candidate free of charge thanks to a dedicated Olympic Solidarity scholarship programme. Full news release here.

The IOC collaborated with the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI) and five of the world’s leading sporting goods brands to provide athletes from 12 NOCs with state-of-the-art competition uniforms to help them perform at their best at the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. The NOC Competition Uniform Support Programme has supported more than 1,000 athletes from 94 NOCs since it was introduced for the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Full news release here.

The IOC has launched the first Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) in India, with the Olympism-themed curriculum being integrated into the school education system in the state of Odisha. One of the first major IOC projects to be implemented in India, OVEP is being developed in partnership with the Government of Odisha’s Department of School and Mass Education and the Abhinav Bindra Foundation Trust (ABFT). The programme was officially launched by the Chief Minister of Odisha, Naveen Patnaik; IOC Olympic Education Commission Chair Mikaela Cojuangco Jaworski; IOC Member Nita Ambani; Olympian and member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission Abhinav Bindra; and President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Narinder Batra. Full news release here.

What Agnes Saw” – a short film created as part of the IOC’s Stronger Together campaign – has been honoured at the Sports Emmys, taking home the award for Outstanding Public Service Announcement. Featuring the oldest-living Olympic champion, 101-year-old Agnes Keleti, and Sky Brown, the youngest Olympian representing Team GB in Tokyo, the film was showcased at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Full news release here.

Kazuko Wakayama

The Official Film of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Side A, by award-winning director Naomi Kawase, was screened at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès as part of the Cannes Classics selection, after a red-carpet welcome. Marking a historic moment, Olympian Kim Gaucher (basketball) joined Kawase on the red carpet, along with her partner and 14-month-old daughter. Full news release here.



World Athletics launched its Every Breath Counts campaign on Global Running Day (1 June), revealing for the first time the depth of public sentiment and growing calls for clean air across three continents. According to a new research from World Athletics, 75 per cent of people want to see stronger targets and monitoring to reduce air pollution. The campaign invites citizens across the world to sign the Declaration for Clean Air, which calls on local and national governments and businesses to urgently agree to set more stringent targets and increased monitoring for air pollution in line with the World Health Organisation standards. Full details here.

The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has announced the members of its newly created Safeguarding Council, an advisory body on matters related to the safeguarding and protection of vulnerable groups of basketball participants. IOC EB member Prince Feisal Al Hussein was appointed Founding Chairman during the FIBA Central Board meeting held at the IF headquarters in Mies (Switzerland). Full details here, including the composition of the Council.

The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) has formed an independent Commission to develop a practical framework that will allow it to address current and future concerns related to the use of horses in sport. The 10-person Commission will be chaired by Natalie Waran from New Zealand, an internationally respected equine welfare expert who is also Executive Dean at the Eastern Institute of Technology (Te Pūkenga) in New Zealand. Full details here.

The Artistic Gymnastics World Championships will return to Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 2026 and the World Gymnaestrada to Lisbon, Portugal, in 2027. The Council of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) awarded the two events at its recent meeting in Dubrovnik (Croatia). More details here.


To celebrate its commitment to equality and inclusiveness, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) had its first Inclusion and Diversity Day on 4 June. The FIH has long embraced equality with its #equallyamazing hashtag and the commitment of all members of the hockey community to treat everyone equally and with respect. A message (full info here) was read out by athletes ahead of the inaugural FIH hockey5s competition in Lausanne on 4 and 5 June. This first successful edition of hockey5s saw a total of 22 games and the victory of the Indian men’s team and Uruguayan women’s team. Full details here.


#TableTennisUnited, the fundraising campaign run by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Foundation and sponsored by the ITTF and World Table Tennis (WTT), has extended its support to the Ukrainian table tennis community, helping players at every level – from junior to senior and Para. The Foundation has appointed four-time Olympian and Deputy Chair of the ITTF Athletes’ Commission Galia Dvorak as a Goodwill Ambassador to support its activities and to facilitate communication with the Ukrainian table tennis community. In addition to those affected by the Russia-Ukraine war, the Fund will continue to provide support to those who have fallen victim to the global pandemic, while remaining flexible to react to future humanitarian needs. Full info here.

The World Triathlon Sprint & Relay Championships will take place in Hamburg (Germany) from 13 to 16 July 2023. This 2023 edition is expected to attract an estimated 4,000 competitors from all around the world, support teams, officials, etc. The first edition of this event will take place in June in Montreal (Canada). Full info here on the World Triathlon website.

The World Sailing Council and World Sailing Board met in person for the first time in over two years at the Mid-Year Meeting held in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), bringing together representatives from across the global sailing community. Across four days, the Events Committee, Equipment Committee and the Board met to discuss the future development and growth of the sport. During its meeting on 29 May, the World Sailing Council approved retaining the current slate of Olympic sailing events for the Olympic Games LA 2028 and the application of the Saudi Sailing Federation to become a full Member National Authority. More details here.



The Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) recently organised the National University and College Athletic Games. This important sports gala for students was successfully held in May. There were a total of 22 sports events, and almost 19,000 athletes participated. This is the biggest occasion for the CTOC to promote Olympic education and make contact with young adults who are around 18-25 years old. As is tradition, the CTOC set up a promotional stand and interacted with coaches, athletes and sports team staff. Full details here.

Dominican Republic NOC

The Dominican Republic NOC recently hosted a meeting for national federation representatives on preventing doping among the athletes taking part in the upcoming Bolivarian Games in Valledupar (Colombia). On this occasion, Lisste Sánchez, who is in charge of the medical team accompanying the Dominican Republic delegation, re-emphasised the NOC’s zero doping policy. NOC President Antonio Acosta also attended the meeting. More details here.

Hellenic Olympic Committee

Spyros Capralos, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) and IOC Member, recently welcomed the members of the World Union of Olympic Cities to the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, during their trip to Greece to mark the 20th anniversary of the Union. They also visited the permanent exhibition “Memories from Olympic Games: Posters and Torches from 1896 till today”, which is located at the rear of the Panathenaic Stadium. More details here

The Kosovo Olympic Committee has monitored the coverage of local and international print and electronic media, including social media, on the Kosovo Olympic team during the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The monitoring was conducted in many foreign languages by the communications agency Republika, with the research covering the period from 1 July to 31 August 2021. A total of 812 international media outlets reported on the Kosovo NOC’s success, best illustrated by the Olympic gold medals won by judokas Distria Krasniqi and Nora Gjakova . Full info here.

Moroccan NOC

The Moroccan NOC held the fourth module of its high-level coaches training course from 18 to 22 May in Ifrane. A total of 31 coaches took the module, in which three international experts provided training in areas such as strategy development and the implementation of evaluation measures and tools. Info at www.cnom.org.ma.


The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) recently welcomed 10 members of the Ukrainian curling national team to Salt Lake City, where they will live and train this summer. The delegation is being hosted by the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation as part of an all-encompassing humanitarian and sporting initiative to provide a safe haven and training opportunities amid the unrest and turmoil in their home country. The athletes are living at the University of Utah and training at the Utah Olympic Oval and Weber County Ice Arena – all venues used during the Olympic Winter Games Salt Lake City 2002. 



The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) and the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) have joined forces to develop cycling on the African continent in the lead-up to the 2025 UCI Road World Championships to be held in Kigali, Rwanda. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been signed by UCI President David Lappartient and ANOCA President Mustapha Berraf, both IOC Members (photo). The signature took place at the UCI headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, on 25 May, as part of Africa Day celebrations. The parties also agreed on a UCI Cycling Development Strategy, supporting African athletes so they can be competitive by 2025, notably in the Junior and Under 23 categories. Full details here. In addition, to mark Africa Day,  ANOCA President Mustapha Berraf published a message on Africa, sport and development. Full message here.

Panam Sports

In April and May, Panam Sports hosted in Miami (USA) a 100-hour marathon of meetings with NOCs. Panam Sports President Neven Ilic, also an IOC Member, met with the President and Secretary General of the NOCs of on the continent to determine their needs, current projects and plans for the future. He was accompanied by Panam Sports Secretary General Ivar Sisniega, Vice-Presidents Mario Moccia, Jimena Saldaña and Keith Joseph, former Chilean athlete Carolina Sanz and Joanna Zipser-Graves from Olympic Solidarity. In total, 37 countries attended the sessions, which were conducted over 12 days. Full details here. In addition to these meetings, there were Olympic Solidarity workshops for NOC participants. These workshops were facilitated by a joint team from Olympic Solidarity and Panam Sports, focused on how the Olympic Solidarity World Programmes (managed from Lausanne) and the Continental Programmes (managed by Panam Sports) complement each other in responding to the particular needs of the NOCs. Full details here.

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