It was with great sadness that the IOC announced the passing of former IOC President Count Jacques Rogge on 29 August. He was 79 years old. Rogge was the eighth President of the IOC, from 2001 to 2013, after which he became Honorary President. A life-long sports fan and an accomplished athlete, Rogge was a Belgian rugby champion and represented his country on the national team. He also competed in sailing at three editions of the Olympic Games, in 1968, 1972 and 1976, in the Finn class. After his career as an athlete, he became President of the Belgian and European Olympic Committees, and was elected President of the IOC in 2001. After his IOC presidency, he also served as Special Envoy for Youth, Refugees and Sport to the United Nations.
Remembering his life, IOC President Thomas Bach recalled: “First and foremost, Jacques loved sport and being with athletes – and he transmitted this passion to everyone who knew him. His joy in sport was infectious. He was an accomplished President, helping to modernise and transform the IOC. He will be remembered particularly for championing youth sport and for inaugurating the Youth Olympic Games. He was also a fierce proponent of clean sport, and fought tirelessly against the evils of doping. Since we were elected as IOC members together we shared a wonderful bond of friendship, and this continued until his last days, when the entire Olympic Movement and I could still benefit from his contribution, in particular on the Board of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage. The entire Olympic Movement will deeply mourn the loss of a great friend and a passionate fan of sport.” Full news release here.
IOC President Thomas Bach chaired the IOC Executive Board (EB) meeting which was held virtually on 8 September, exactly one month after the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Prior to the start of the meeting, President Bach invited the EB members to observe a minute’s silence in tribute to IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge. During the EB, the members discussed the upcoming editions of the Olympic Games and several other Olympic topics. IOC Vice President Ser Miang Ng and EB member Denis Oswald were present in Lausanne.
The IOC EB received a short summary reflecting on the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 ahead of a formal Tokyo 2020 report, which will be presented to the EB in December 2021. This reflected some of the initial, positive feedback received from many key stakeholders, including the athletes. Newly elected Chair of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission, Emma Terho, explained the importance of these Games for the athletes, despite the complexity of the operations, saying that the Tokyo 2020 Games made it possible for them to realise their Olympic dream following an incredibly difficult period for society. Such sentiment was reflected in feedback from the IFs, NOCs and various other stakeholders. Speaking about this, President Bach said: “The echo from the international audience from all around the world was extremely positive. They made it clear the Games were this symbol of hope the world was longing for.” Full news release here.
A progress report from the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee highlighted the growing anticipation and preparedness for next year’s Games. This follows the recent confirmation that National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey players will participate in Beijing. Details of the extensive planning being undertaken with regard to COVID-19 countermeasures were also shared. On this matter, President Bach said: “The IOC and Beijing 2022 will apply the same principle as for Tokyo 2020, which is safe Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.” In this respect it was confirmed that the publication of the Beijing 2022 Playbooks, outlining guidelines for all stakeholders, are expected to be finalised and published in October. These will build on the learnings from the Tokyo 2020 Games and benefit from the continued input from worldwide experts and the World Health Organization. Full news release here.
The IOC EB decided to suspend the Olympic Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (PRK NOC) until the end of 2022, as a result of the NOC’s unilateral decision not to participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The EB reserves the right to reconsider the duration of the suspension at its discretion. Read the full news release here.
Speaking to the press after the EB meeting, President Bach said that the IOC has helped the Olympic community in Afghanistan after the humanitarian crisis broke recently. Contacted by the NOC of Afghanistan already at the closing of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the IOC started to work immediately to help people from the Olympic community. A special focus of this work was on women and girls. “As a result of all our efforts, all athletes who participated at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 are outside the country. Two winter sports athletes are also outside the country and continue training, hoping to qualify for Beijing,” the IOC President said. He explained that a significant number of members of the Olympic community in Afghanistan – around 100 – received humanitarian visas and could leave the country with the help of the IOC and other partners from the Olympic Movement. Going forward, the IOC will extend scholarships to all of the Afghan participants of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 so they can continue training. The IOC will also continue to support the two winter athletes who are currently receiving Olympic Solidarity scholarships already. At the same time, the IOC will continue trying to assist other members of the Olympic community who are still living in Afghanistan to receive humanitarian visas and to leave the country. In order to achieve this objective, the IOC continues to be in contact with NOCs and governments around the globe. Full news release here.
On 9 September, President Bach welcomed European Union Commission Vice-President Margarítis Schinás to Olympic House. Together, they discussed the forthcoming editions of the Olympic Games as well as the European Sport Model, which is fully supported by the EU Commission Vice-President. They agreed that sport can contribute significantly to peace, integration and global cooperation. EU Commission Vice-President Schinás said: “European and Olympic values are inextricably linked.” During a tour of Olympic House, Margarítis Schinás signed the IOC’s Golden Book and the Book of Condolence for IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge. President Bach invited the EU Commission Vice-President to attend the inauguration of the International Olympic Academy and the lighting of the Olympic torch for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 in mid-October in ancient Olympia.
The IOC President also met Michael Evans, President and Director of Worldwide Olympic Partner Alibaba. The discussions focused on the excellent cooperation between the two organisations and Alibaba’s commitment to the Olympic Movement. Mr Evans was accompanied by Michael Payne, a marketing consultant and former IOC Marketing Director.
President Bach also discussed a number of Olympic topics with IOC Vice-President Ser Miang Ng.
During a conference call, the President and Emma Terho, an EB member and Chair of the IOC Athletes' Commission, discussed a broad range of current Olympic matters, including preparations for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
The IOC announced that the China Media Group (CMG) has been awarded the exclusive broadcast rights in the Chinese mainland and Macau (SAR) for the XXV Olympic Winter Games in Milano Cortina in 2026, the Games of the XXXIV Olympiad in Los Angeles in 2028, the XXVI Olympic Winter Games in 2030, and the Games of the XXXV Olympiad in Brisbane in 2032. CMG has acquired the rights across all broadcast platforms, including free-to-air television, subscription television, internet and mobile. The agreement also includes the right to broadcast all editions of the Youth Olympic Games until 2032. The new agreement was signed during a virtual ceremony between IOC President Thomas Bach and CMG President Shen Haixiong. Full news release here.
In late August, the IOC President travelled to Tokyo as a guest of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to attend the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 and watch some competitions. Both organisations enjoy strong collaboration. President Bach also met with IPC President and IOC Member Andrew Parsons and congratulated him on the WeThe15 campaign, which was launched ahead of the Paralympic Games and aims to end discrimination against the 1.2 billion people with disabilities in the world. He presented the IPC President with a picture of The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, lit up in purple, as a gift. The venue was one of more than 125 landmarks around the globe that was lit up to launch the campaign. Also in Tokyo, the President met with the newly elected IOC member and IOC Athletes’ Commission member, Olympian Ota Yuki. More info here.
During a visit to the Japanese Embassy prior to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, IOC Member Spyros Capralos (right in photo), who is also President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and of the European Olympic Committees, was honoured by the Japanese Ambassador to Greece, Yasunori Nakayama (left). Capralos was presented with the Distinction of the Ambassador of Japan for 2020 for his effective contribution to preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. More details here.
Other Olympic news
In the framework of the 2021/2022 edition of the Advanced Olympic Research Grant Programme, the Olympic Studies Centre (OSC), with the support of its Grant Selection Committee and the IOC administration, has selected five research projects, underlining their relevance for the strategic and operational activities of the IOC and their academic quality. The researchers will address topics related to the athletes’ and sports entourages’ experiences around the disruption of Tokyo 2020, safe sport and high performance, the legacy of the Sarajevo 1984 Games, the meaning of safe sport for forced migrant athletes, and the way coaches can meet the psychological skill needs of Generation Z athletes. The results of the research are expected by July 2022. More information on the OSC and its activities and programmes can be found here.
The International Association Football Federation (FIFA) has named Jill Ellis to lead the Technical Advisory Group on the future of women’s football. The double FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning coach will work with stakeholders from all platforms to examine and explore ways to improve the current match calendar and build global development and competitiveness. More details here.
On 6 September, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) launched the FINA Scholarships Programme 2021-2022 and the new Olympic Aquatics Support Programme (OASP) 2022. A total of 140 scholarships will be available for three of FINA’s aquatics disciplines – swimming, diving and open water – which is the highest number of scholarships since the creation of the programme in 2015. A slightly revised version of the OASP has also been launched, with the aim of encouraging National Federations to optimise their governance and structure. Through this programme, FINA will redistribute up to 70 per cent of the IOC TV rights share received in relation to the Olympic Games, a maximum total of USD 5,225,000. Full details here. In addition, the FINA recently presented its statistics concerning the Tokyo Pre-Games Testing Programme, which started on 1 January 2021 and continued up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Full info here.
The new website of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) was launched on the day of the Tokyo 2020 Opening Ceremony. With the launch of iwf.sport, the IWF joined the effort by the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and others to boost digital engagement for the Olympic competitions. The use of iwf.sport sees the IWF join a number of other International Federations in migrating to the .sport platform, which was secured for dedicated use by the sports movement by the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF). More details here.
The World Triathlon Executive Board has approved the awarding of the 2021 World Triathlon Cross Championships to El Anillo de Extremadura, in Spain. World champions in all categories, including age-group events, will now be crowned on 30 and 31 October. Full details here.
National Olympic committees
A few weeks ago, the Albanian NOC President, Fidel Ylli, and Secretary General, Stavri Bello, met the representative of the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for Albania, Pablo Zapata, and the Associate External Relations Officer, Showvik Das Tamal. This meeting focused on the social integration through sport of children who are refugees in Albania, and on how they can get involved in sports activities or other regional competitions. A memorandum of cooperation bringing together all the ideas discussed during the meeting will be signed in due course by the two institutions. More info at www.nocalbania.org.al.
During its 2021 General Assembly held virtually on 1 September, the Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA) welcomed two new National Federations to its membership: the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) and the Skateboard Association of Barbados Inc. The BOA also welcomed a new Director, with the President of the Barbados Chess Federation, Allan Herbert, elected to the Board for a one-year term. The BOA remains in a solid financial position and has taken the unprecedented step of rolling forward into 2021 a significant portion of funds not utilised in 2020. The BOA will also establish a sinking fund to help safeguard the association from economic shocks going forward. More info at www.olympic.org.bb.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic weightlifting women’s 59kg champion, Kuo Hsing-Chun, not only set three new Olympic records – in the snatch, clean and jerk, and combined lifts – on the field; she has also helped build a great model of athlete social responsibility off it. The flagbearer for the Chinese Taipei delegation, Kuo conveys the positive and inspiring power of sport through sharing by interacting with the public. Indeed, to motivate more teenagers with her sporting spirit, she took part in the Olympic Spirit Touring Lecture, which is hosted by the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) and aims to spread the Olympic values through education. Full details here.
At the Presidential Palace in Athens, the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, welcomed and congratulated the athletes who participated in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, together with their coaches. The delegation was accompanied by Hellenic Olympic Committee President and IOC member Spyros Capralos, Chef de Mission Michalis Fysentzidis and Deputy Chef de Mission Iakovos Filippousis. Among the athletes were Stefanos Ntouskos, Olympic champion in rowing, Lefteris Petrounias, bronze medallist in gymnastics, and members of the silver-medal-winning water polo team. Deputy Minister of Culture and Sports Lefteris Avgenakis and Secretary General of Sports Giorgos Mavrotas were also present. More details here.
The Hungarian Olympic Committee (HOC), along with five other NOCs, has launched a three-year Erasmus+ project called As Sustainable As Possible (ASAP), with the aim of motivating all engaged NOCs to create, implement and, where applicable, improve sustainability strategies internally and externally, thus becoming mentors and trailblazers for other sports organisations. The German, Danish and Finnish NOCs are taking part in the project as mentors, and those of the Czech Republic and Slovakia – plus the HOC – have joined the project as mentee organisations. The initiative is also supported by the IOC. More info at www.olimpia.hu.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Slovak Olympic and Sports Committee (SOSC) decided to move its Olympic Day activities online, as part of a “Ready for Tokyo” virtual relay. More than 2,200 teachers and students registered for the 23 webinars organised on the topics of Olympic values and symbols, fair play, environmental education, anti-doping and nutrition. A total of 520 competitors took part in the Olympic quiz, answering questions about the Olympic Games, Olympic symbols and mascots. Some 73 mostly primary schools submitted 880 artworks in the art competition. In total, 247 Olympic Day events were organised, attended by more than 32,000 participants. More info at www.olympic.sk.
Some 2,465 swimmers from 55 countries took part in the 33rd Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race held at the end of August. Organised annually by the Turkish Olympic Committee (TOC), the 6.5km race is the only swimming contest in the world which sees competitors swim from Asia to Europe. This year’s race was held without spectators in line with the strict COVID-19 protocols which were put in place by the organisers, including social distancing and hygiene measures. Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoğlu, Istanbul Deputy Governor Niyazi Erten and TOC President and IOC Member Uğur Erdener were among the prominent guests who attended the race. More details here.
The Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) announced in mid-August the nine sports and ten disciplines that will form the core programme for the 2023 and 2025 editions of the ANOC World Beach Games. The announcement came ahead of the opening of the bid process for the host cities of the 2023 and 2025 Games. ANOC decided to focus the core programme exclusively on beach and water sports that could be delivered sustainably and in line with the Games’ commitment to youth and inclusion. Full info here.
The Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) recently launched the host city selection process for future editions of various world multi-sport events, including the World Urban Games, World Combat Games and World Mind Games. Full info here.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) have signed an agreement to work together to foster diversity and equity through global initiatives promoting health and sport for everybody, everywhere. The two partners will collaborate to improve global access to quality rehabilitation and assistive technology as part of universal health coverage; and mitigate existing inequalities in relation to access to these life-changing services – a prerequisite for equal opportunities and participation in sport for people with disabilities, including for Paralympians and Para athletes. The MoU was signed in Tokyo (Japan) by IPC President and IOC Member Andrew Parsons (left in photo) and WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (right). Full info here.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has published details on the 18 Social Science Research projects which were approved by WADA’s Executive Committee in May 2021 for a total of USD 475,000 in funding as part of the Agency’s 2021 Social Science Research Grant Programme. Full details here.
On 7 September, Panathlon International, the Wallonie-Bruxelles Panathlon Club, the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) and the European Fair Play Movement (EFPM) celebrated World Fair Play Day, a sporting initiative designed to promote fair play and ethical values in sport. This date was chosen to commemorate the day in 1963 in Paris, when Jean Borotra, one of the famous “four musketeers” of French tennis, met those who would later found the CIFP. More info here.