Olympic Highlights

01 Jul 2014


It was a week spent in Lausanne for IOC President Thomas Bach, who, like millions of other people worldwide, celebrated Olympic Day on 23 June.

President Bach and Iouri Podladtchikov either side of the statue of Coubertin. © IOC/Christophe Moratal

During the traditional festivities at the IOC headquarters, President Bach, accompanied by Swiss snowboard half-pipe Olympic champion at the Sochi Winter Games Iouri Podladtchikov, unveiled a statue of the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin, in the gardens in Vidy. This statue, which depicts Coubertin sitting under a tree in contemplation, is the work of Chinese artist Xikun Yuan, and was a gift to The Olympic Museum by the Chinese NOC on the occasion of the Beijing 2008 Games. This Coubertin statue faces a statue called Les relayeuses, which has been moved from the gardens of The Olympic Museum to the gardens in Vidy. An artwork by Monegasque artist Emma de Sigaldi, the statue was donated by Prince Albert II of Monaco. Some moments beforehand, a replica of the first Olympic flag created 100 years ago by Coubertin was raised symbolically.

Speaking in the presence of many personalities, including the Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, Abdou Diouf; the Mayor of Lausanne, Daniel Brélaz; the Director of the Federal Office of Sport of the Swiss Confederation, Mattias Remund; Omega CEO Stephen Urquhart; and the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Sport for Development and Peace, Wilfried Lemke, President Bach paid homage to his predecessor. He underlined that “part of Coubertin’s genius was adapting the values of Olympism to the modern world – but he didn’t just hand us these ideas written in stone – part of his genius was to understand that we must constantly renew ourselves and update the Olympic vision,” before adding that “Olympic Day is one of those occasions to show how we can remain relevant. We need to continue to promote sport. We need people and particularly young people to get active. We need to get the couch potatoes off the couch – and Olympic Day and particularly Olympic Day Runs are one way we can do that.”  

Prior to this official ceremony, calling on people the world over to participate in physical exercise and enjoy the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, President Bach kicked off the 2nd edition of the Olympic Capital Run, in which over 1,000 runners – including about 30 IOC staff – took part. Several Olympians currently studying at the International Academy of Sports Sciences and Technology joined President Bach to launch this Run, as did the mascots from the 2004 Games in Athens, Phivos and Athina, and the London 2012 mascot, Wenlock. 

President Bach took the opportunity of three Agenda 2020 Working Group meetings being held this week to meet their Chairs: Craig Reedie, Lambis V. Nikolaou and Youssoupha Ndiaye, as well as several IOC members attending these meetings.

(L to r) Sergio Santos, Filomena Fortes, President Bach and Pere Miró. © Jochen Färber

President Bach also met Cape Verde NOC President Filomena Fortes and Secretary General Sergio Santos. He was accompanied by NOC Relations Director Pere Miró. The President also met IOC member Alexander Zhukov in his capacity as President of the Russian Olympic Committee.

President Bach with Katarina Witt © IOC/Richard Juilliart

The President has also met the Director of the UK’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Martin Roth, and Olympic figure skating champion Katarina Witt. He also took part in the meeting of the IOC-Olympic Capital Commission, in the presence of Lausanne Mayor Daniel Brélaz and State Councillor Phillippe Leuba. 

From 1st July, the IOC President will be in PyeongChang, the host city of the Olympic Winter Games in 2018, where he will take part in the IOC Debriefing on the Sochi Winter Games. A full report will appear in the next Highlights.


Peter Tallberg has been honoured by the International Olympic Academy (IOA) at the opening ceremony of the 54th International Session for Young Participants in Athens (Greece). This distinction was awarded in recognition of his contribution to developing and promoting the Olympic ideals. (See also the “NOCs” section.) 

Prince Albert II of Monaco at the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi. © UNEA

The IOC was asked to give the keynote speech at the first ever United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) session in Nairobi (Kenya). The invitation underlines the ever closer relationship between the two organisations, particularly following the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement by the IOC President and UN Secretary-General in April. As Chair of the Sport and Environment Commission, Prince Albert II of Monaco officially represented the IOC President during the UNEA session, which brought together over 1,000 participants and 163 UN Member States in Nairobi from 23 to 27 June. The Conference theme was “Sustainable Development Goals and Post-2015 Development Agenda”. The discussions also underlined the IOC’s commitment to working with UNEP and other stakeholders to ensure that sport plays a significant role in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. “Specifically,” stated Prince Albert II in his speech, “this relates to using sport to build inclusive, safe and sustainable cities with an accent on recreation, sport and play areas; promoting physical activity and a healthy life for all; and providing equitable and life-long learning opportunities though quality physical education.” He also declared: “The universal law of sport and its popularity can serve to enrich the process of learning towards our greatest resource – young people, in order to change our way of life and ultimately lead to prevent in the future further damage to our Planet’s ecosystems. It is time to recognise this contribution and act upon it by using sport as a tool to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.”


Flor Isava Fonseca now has a library named after her at the Venezuelan NOC headquarters. This tribute was paid during the Olympic Week celebrations. She was a member of the NOC from 1964 to 1968 and was one of the first two female IOC members and the first female member of the IOC Executive Board. (See also the “NOCs” section.)


The Coordination Commission for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games this week concluded a three-day visit to the host city of these Games. The Commission, through its Chair, John Coates, declared that it was “very pleased” with the initial progress made by Tokyo 2020, as well as by the on-going review of its bid plans. The Commission was also extremely satisfied that the “best of Japan” has been mobilised to get everyone involved in Tokyo 2020 and help spread the message across the country. The Commission met Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. As part of the visit, the Commission toured a number of the venues in the Bay Zone.

It was with great sadness that the IOC learned of the death of Howard H. Baker Jr (photo), a former US Senator and one of the original founding members of the IOC Ethics Commission 25 years ago. In 1999, he accepted to be one of the founding members of the IOC Ethics Commission, and contributed to the fundamental reforms that the IOC brought in at the time to turn it into a more transparent and accountable organisation. Baker was appointed to the Commission by former IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch when it was created by the IOC Executive Board. In a letter to his widow from the IOC, it was noted that “his dedication and particularly valuable advice enabled the Ethics Commission to achieve the important tasks of drafting the IOC Code of Ethics and the other basic documents that determine the activities of the Commission. Since then the IOC Ethics Commission has built upon his contribution.”


The International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) has launched the digital version of its magazine, World of Gymnastics. The printed version has also been revised. Info at www.fig-gymnastics.com.

The IWF Executive Board members © IWF

The Executive Board of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) met recently in Kazan (Russian Federation) prior to the Junior World Championships. The decisions it took included awarding the 2015 and 2016 editions of the Youth World Championships to Lima (Peru) and Penang (Malaysia), and the 2016 Junior World Championships to Tunis (Tunisia). The temporary suspension of Botswana was lifted, while Wallis and Futuna became an Associate Member and Equatorial Guinea became a Provisional Member. Info at www.iwf.net

FINA Seminar participants in Miami © FINA

The International Swimming Federation (FINA) organised the 11th World Officials Seminar on 20 and 21 June in Miami (USA). Some 110 judges and referees from 62 countries on the five continents were thus able to perfect and enhance their knowledge through talks given by Vice President and Technical Swimming Committee (TSC) Bureau Liaison Dale Neuburger, TSC Chair Carol Zaleski and TSC Honorary Secretary Soeren Korbo. Info at www.fina.org

The rugby family also celebrated Olympic Day by encouraging men, women and children to “Get Active & Get Into Rugby”. Thus aligning itself with the Olympic Day slogan, the International Rugby Board (IRB)’s Get Into Rugby programme, whose objective is to introduce the sport to a million new players before the Rio Games in 2016, has been a great success, with over 500,000 participants since its launch in 2013.  Other key figures: 120 countries signed up and took part in the programme; 4,968 events were staged at 3,900 sites; and a total of 7,884 people (coaches and teachers) were trained to run such a programme. In Colombia and Brazil, about 23,000 youngsters took their first steps in rugby, and the courses were a great success in China, where rugby sevens will make its debut at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing this summer. Rugby stars also called on everyone to get moving through social networks. Info at www.irb.com and www.irbgetintorugby.com

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has informed us that China’s Yu Ziyang has become the youngest winner of a world ITTF tournament, the Japan Open, at the age of 16 years and 30 days – 254 days younger than the previous title holder, Japan’s Kohei Sambe, who won the Chile Open. It is the third time that this record has been broken in a year. In 2013, China’s Fan Zhendong won the German Open aged 16 years and 292 days. Info at www.ittf.com.

Archery in the Vidy gardens © WA

At the IOC’s Olympic Day celebration on 23 June, World Archery (WA) offered guests the chance to try out archery. It was the second time in a week that archery had been staged in the Vidy gardens. Last week, IOC staff had the opportunity to try archery as they prepare for the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing. The activities were organised by WA Events Director and Olympic champion at the Barcelona 1992 Games, Juan Carlos Holgado (photo). Info at www.worldarchery.org.


Josef Fendt has been elected for the fifth time as President of the International Luge Federation (FIL) at the IF’s 62nd Congress in Innsbruck (Austria). Josef Fendt, a silver medallist at the 1976 Games and double world champion (1970 and 1974), was elected for the first time in 1994, succeeding the FIL’s founder President, Bert Isatitsch. Delegates from 38 member federations also re-elected Svein Romstad as Secretary General. The Congress included a gala commemorating the 50th anniversary of luge being on the Olympic programme, attended by numerous Olympic champions. Info at www.fil-luge.org.


Young runners in Annaba © Algerian NOC

The Algerian NOC chose the city of Annaba to celebrate Olympic Day 2014. On 20 and 21 June, the city centre was transformed into a real Olympic stadium. Besides a run, the children were able to try out various sports such as athletics, fencing, karate, taekwondo and other martial arts. A space was also reserved for primary schoolchildren, who were able to make drawings on the theme “Olympism seen by youngsters”. A talk and a discussion with Olympians on the Olympic values were also on the programme of this Day. Info at www.comiteolympiquealgerien.com

At the ordinary general assembly on 17 June, Andorran NOC President Jaume Martí Mandicó presented the 2013 IOC Trophy, “150 Years, Pierre de Coubertin, Sport as a School of Life”, to Isidre Baró Cabanes, the NOC’s Honorary President. The founder of the NOC in 1971, he became its President in 1975, the year it received IOC recognition. He received the Olympic Order in 1992. Info at www.coa.ad

Walkathon in Bahrain for Olympic Day © Bahrein NOC

In Bahrain, a five-hour programme was set up for Olympic Day. In Park Khalifa in Arad, various events were staged under the patronage of the Secretary General of the Bahrain NOC, Abdulrahman Askar, and in the presence of various sports and government officials. The activities included games for children, a walkathon, demonstrations of taekwondo and football, dance and music. Also set up were special corners for the NOC’s Anti-Doping Committee and the National Sports Medicine Centre. All the participants went home with a certificate.

At its General Assembly on 13 June, the Belgian NOC (COIB) approved the Administration Board’s proposal to modify its statutes. Thus, two COIB Athlete’ Commission athletes will now have voting rights at the General Assembly, in line with the Olympic Charter. The Athletes’ Commission Chair will also be a member of the COIB Administration Board. During this Assembly the 2014 COIB Order of Merit was awarded to two Belgian Olympic champions: Gaston Roelants, 3,000m steeplechase champion at the Tokyo 1964 Games and current President of the Belgian Olympians Association, received his award from IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge in the presence of COIB President and IOC member Pierre-Olivier Beckers and COIB Secretary General Philippe Vander Putten. Patrick Sercu, who was unable to attend, will receive his award at a later date. Info at www.olympic.be.

Olympic Day celebration in Chile © Chilean NOC

Three days after celebrating its 80th anniversary (20 June), the Chilean NOC celebrated the 120th anniversary of the IOC, organising various activities in the country’s region and capital, Santiago. Thus, the region of Bío Bío put on a programme comprising cross-country running, rowing, wheelchair rugby, karate, basketball. This programme will conclude on 23 August with the Olympic schools run. In the city of Iquique, games were organised on the beach. In Santiago, the Day will be celebrated in a few weeks once Football World Cup fever has died down. Info at www.coch.cl.

Runners of all ages in Bogotá © Colombian NOC

Almost 4,000 people came together on 22 June at the El Tunal Park in Bogotá to take part in the Olympic Day Run (La Carrera del Sur). Olympic and Paralympic athletes accompanied them on the 10km route. The next day saw another race bring together 5,000 people in Medellín. Other sports activities were organised on this occasion by the motorcycling and swimming federations. The University of Applied Sciences and the Environment staged talks on the Paralympic Movement and an Olympic forum, while the universities of San Buenaventura, Medellín y Santo Tomás, and Bogotá organised workshops on the Olympic values. Info at www.coc.org.co (website of the Colombian NOC).

Homage to Coubertin in Ecuador © Ecuadorian NOC

As part of Olympic Week, the Ecuadorian NOC paid homage to Pierre de Coubertin, placing a spray of flowers on the bust of the founder of the IOC located on Olympic Square. Attending this ceremony were the NOC officials and staff, presidents of sports federations, students and the public. A mass in honour of former athletes and officials was celebrated a few minutes beforehand at the NOC headquarters. Info at www.coe.org.ec.

Spanish NOC Executive Committee members © Spanish NOC

On 25 June at its Madrid headquarters, the Spanish NOC held its ordinary general assembly. NOC President Alejandro Blanco spoke about the major events of the past year. Also addressed were the organisation of the Mediterranean Games in Tarragona in 2017; the results of Spanish athletes at the previous edition in Mersin in 2013; the European Youth Olympic Festival in Utrecht; and the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. NOC pins were presented posthumously to handball referee Alfonso Martínez, cycling official Rafael Torres and sailing official Jaime Enseñat.

The day before, the Spanish NOC President had, with his Peruvian counterpart, José Quiñones, signed an agreement which focused, among other things, on training athletes and officials. Info at www.coe.es.

Olympic Day invitation in the USA © USOC

The USOC has announced a record number of Olympic Day celebrations this year. With 1,055 events being hosted in 813 communities representing each State, about 500,000 Americans will celebrate the Olympic Movement this summer. No fewer than 488 former and current Olympians will take part in these initiatives, such as gymnast Gabby Douglas, Olympic champion in London, and diver Greg Louganis, four-time Olympic diving champion. These events include a rugby sevens tournament in Commerce City, Colorado, which brought together 1,000 participants on 21 June in the presence of Jason Regier, a Paralympic champion and bronze medallist in wheelchair rugby, a sport on the Paralympic Games  programme since 2000. The cycling federation has planned 265 BMX events across the country. Info at www.teamusa.org.

Golf try-out on Olympic Day in Greece © Hellenic NOC

Hundreds of children took part in the Olympic Day celebration organised in Messenia by the Hellenic NOC, in cooperation with the Hellenic Olympic Academy. The event was held in Costa Navarino, where Olympic and world champions introduced children to fencing, archery, handball, boxing and water polo. With the slogan “Golf for everyone”, a golf try-out was staged separately, symbolising the return of this sport to the Olympic programme at the 2016 Games in Rio.

The Hellenic NOC has also informed us that, at the opening ceremony of the 54th International Session for Young Participants of the International Olympic Academy (IOA), the First Lady of the Republic of Azerbaijan, and who is also the President of the Organising Committee of the first European Games, Baku 2015, Mehriban Aliyeva, and Jim Parry were honoured by the IOA in recognition of their contribution to the development and promotion of the Olympic ideals. President Bach also attended this ceremony on 16 June on the sacred Hill of the Pnyx in Athens. Almost 200 youngsters from 96 countries are taking part in this 54th Session, which is being held in Olympia. Info at www.hoc.gr

Thousands of runners in Lima © Peruvian NOC

The Olympic Day Run organised by the Peruvian NOC beat the participation record, with over 10,500 people running 10km. Placed under the patronage of Samsung Electronics Peru and the Peruvian Sports Institute, this 27th edition began with the symbolic lighting of an Olympic flame. IOC member Iván Dibos read messages from NOC President José Quiñones González and the IOC President. Info at www.coperu.org

In Venezuela, Olympic Week celebrations started with a tribute to two national Olympic Movement personalities: Flor Isava and Rubén Limardo. Indeed, inaugurated at the Venezuelan NOC headquarters besides a photo exhibition on the London 2012 Games were the Flor Isava Library and a space devoted to London 2012 Olympic champion Rubén Limardo in the Olympic Museum. Accompanied by NOC President Eduardo Alvarez, IOC honorary member Flor Isava unveiled the library plaque bearing her name. The library contains over 4,000 books on sport and Olympism.

In addition, the NOC’s Training Commission will from 25 to 28 June organise the first course on applied sciences in sport. Aimed at coaches of national squads or teams from all sports federations, this course will address subjects including sports management, sports ethics, events organisation, biomechanics, nutritional issues and doping. This course will conclude the Olympic Week celebration.

TOKYO 2020

(L to r) Yoshiro Mori, Koji Murofushi and Toshiro Muto © Tokyo 2020/Shugo Takemi

The Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 (Tokyo 2020) has appointed Olympic hammer throw champion Koji Murofushi, as its Sports Director, underlining its firm commitment to actively involve athletes in the Games preparations. Murofushi, a gold medallist at Athens 2004 and bronze medallist at London 2012, will liaise with the athletes, IFs and the Organising Committee so that the athletes’ needs and expectations are met at the Tokyo Games in 2020. He was also appointed a member of the Tokyo 2020 Executive Board last January.

On 23 June, Tokyo 2020 celebrated Olympic day by partnering with 552 universities from all prefectures in Japan to raise young people’s awareness of the Olympic values. Thanks to this partnership, Tokyo 2020 and the universities will pool their resources to promote Olympic education, mobilise young people for the 2020 Games and place Olympism at the heart of Japanese society. Yoshiro Mori, President of Tokyo 2020 and representatives of the universities finalised and signed this agreement at a ceremony at Waseda University. Tokyo, Waseda and Sophia universities are among those belonging to the partnership. Info at www.tokyo2020.com 


Meeting at its headquarters in Bonn (Germany) from 19 to 22 June, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC)’s Governing Board examined the IPC Strategic Plan for 2015-18, and heard a report on preparations for the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games presented by Organising Committee President Carlos Nuzman and Executive Director of Sports and Paralympic Integration Agberto Guimaraes. A full report on the success of the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games was also provided. The next meeting will be held on 6 and 7 October 2014 in Berlin (Germany). Info at www.paralympic.org.

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