With just over 10 days to go before he arrives in Beijing, IOC President Thomas Bach chaired a remote meeting of the IOC Executive Board (EB) on 11 January. The EB members discussed the latest situation regarding the preparations for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and the IOC Session, and several other Olympic topics.
President Bach has spoken with Yamashita Yasuhiro, President of the Japanese NOC and also an IOC Member, and with Hashimoto Seiko, President of the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, concerning the preparations for the IOC Session in Beijing.
President Thomas Bach also spoke by phone with NBC Sports Chairman Mark Lazarus. They addressed NBC’s preparations for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and its staff.
A total of 70 NOC athletes’ commissions (ACs) from all continents applied for financial support through the Olympic Solidarity NOC AC Activity Grants in 2021, for an available total amount of USD 700,000. Each AC was allocated up to USD 10,000 of annual funding to be used for activities focused on supporting athletes. For NOCs which do not already have one, this grant can be used to create their own athletes’ commission. “This grant is a result of a recommendation from the International Athletes’ Forum held in 2019, set to further strengthen the athlete voice in the Olympic Movement, which was accepted and implemented by the IOC,” said IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair and EB member Emma Terho. Full news release here.
Other Olympic news
In a video produced by the IOC and launched on 11 January, athletes call on world leaders and decision-makers to ensure free and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. The call comes just a few weeks before the start of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. Full details here.
Based on the experience of the first week of arrivals in Beijing, and with more and more Games participants beginning to travel to the Chinese capital for the upcoming Winter Games, additional practical tips have been put together by the organisers for the delegations, to further help limit the possibility of getting infected with COVID-19 and transmitting it to others in the lead-up to and during travel. Read here the information which complements the Playbooks published a few weeks ago.
Following on from the inaugural Olympic Agora at Tokyo 2020, and in the run-up to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage (OFCH) has presented the second edition of the Olympic Agora. The programme features seven creative Olympians and their artworks inspired by the Olympic values and the magic of winter sports. Because of the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olympic Agora programme for Beijing 2022 will be almost entirely digital. Full details here.
Ten years ago, the first ever Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) were held in Innsbruck from 13 to 22 January 2012. They had a ground-breaking competition programme, in terms of both disciplines and formats (mixed-gender and mixed-nation), and encouraged teenagers all over the world to achieve sporting excellence and incorporate the Olympic values into their daily lives through a tried and tested culture and education programme. In addition to their purely sporting element, the YOG are a breeding ground for technological experimentation. In Innsbruck, the mascot, YOGGL, was chosen following a competition on Facebook. Lillehammer 2016 saw the introduction of virtual reality and all kinds of interactive apps to educate and inform the athletes about the history, values and ideals of the Olympic Movement. Lausanne 2020 saw record participation, 70 per cent higher than for Innsbruck 2012, and a digital media explosion, with 64 million page views on social media, 25 times more than for Lillehammer 2016 – not to mention the 150 million people around the world who followed the competitions on television. In the space of a decade, the YOG have thus confirmed their status as innovative, educational and participative Games. The next Winter YOG will be held in Gangwon, in the Republic of Korea, from 19 January to 3 February 2024. Full news release here. Read also here about the 10 years of building the Winter YOG legacy, from Innsbruck 2012 to Lausanne 2020.
The IOC was deeply saddened to learn of the death of its long-time Director General, François Carrard (photo), at the age of 83. Carrard led the IOC administration from 1989 until 2003, and served IOC Presidents Juan Antonio Samaranch and Jacques Rogge during his 14-year term. With his legal background, he played a crucial role supporting the IOC in driving its fundamental reforms in 1999 and 2000. Carrard also played a key role in the setting-up of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the introduction of the first World Anti-Doping Code. In addition, he was heavily involved in revamping the Olympic Charter and in the IOC Commission on Apartheid and Olympism. “François Carrard was a brilliant man with immense analytic skills and a very wide horizon. President Samaranch and the entire Olympic Movement could always rely on his invaluable advice. He was not only a man of law and sport, but also a great man of culture,” IOC President Bach said. Read the full news release here.
Vincent Pereira (photo) has been appointed Head of Virtual Sport within the IOC Sports Department, as of 1 March 2022. Created in the framework of Recommendation 9 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5, this new position will contribute to developing virtual sport and to further engaging with videogaming communities, including leading the coordinated planning and delivery of the Olympic Virtual Series, which debuted in 2021. Read the full news release here.
Slovenia’s Aljaz Pegan (photo) has been elected as President of the Athletes’ Commission of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). The 2005 world champion on the horizontal bar will chair the Commission until the end of 2025. He succeeds Belarussian Liubou Charkashyna, who had chaired the Commission since February 2017 and was elected to the Rhythmic Gymnastics Technical Committee during the FIG Congress in November. The election of the new President took place during the first meeting of the new-look Commission, following elections in 2021. The meeting was held remotely via videoconference. More details here.
The International Table Tennis (ITTF) Group, the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) and the city of Chengdu have unveiled the dates of the 2022 World Team Table Tennis Championships Finals. The event will take place from Sunday 17 to Tuesday 26 April 2022. This will be the first time that Chengdu hosts a World Table Tennis Championships event, and marks the first time since 2008 that China is playing host to a team championships event. Full details here.
National Olympic Committees
Paulo Roberto Conde (photo) is the new Communications Director of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (BOC). The 37-year-old holds a degree in journalism and is a master's student of Olympic Studies at the German Sport University in Cologne. He had been at the Globo Group since 2018 after being at other leading newsrooms of the Brazilian press, such as the newspapers "O Estado de São Paulo" and "Folha de São Paulo", as well as the daily sports newspaper LANCE!. In April 2018, he switched from written press to TV. As a producer, he did reports for the top news programmes at Globo, for channels SporTV and GE.globo. He has covered, among other things, three Olympic Summer Games (2012, 2016 and 2020) and one edition of the Paralympic Games (2008). Full details here.
The Executive Committee of the Dominican Republic NOC has appointed journalist Neftalí Ruiz (photo) as the NOC’s Director of Public Relations. Ruiz has 22 years of experience in sports journalism and is currently sports editor for CDN Channel 37 and presenter of the Revista Deportiva on CDN Deportes. He has also produced and presented dozens of radio programmes and served as press director for the national golf and football federations. More details here.
The Georgian NOC has announced the death of its Honorary President, Jansug Bagrationi (photo). Throughout his life, he was actively involved in sport, whether as a handball player, coach or sports leader. Bagrationi held leading positions for over 20 years as the Chair of the Tbilisi City Sport Committee, Deputy Chairman of the Sports Department of Georgia, 1st NOC Vice-President and then NOC President from 1996 to 2004. During his presidency, the NOC took part in three Olympic Games editions (Atlanta, Sydney and Athens) as an independent team. Bagrationi greatly contributed to disseminating the Olympic ideals in his country, which earned him the Olympic Order in 1999, the European Olympic Committees Laurel award and Georgia’s Medal of Honour.
Furthermore, Olympic champion Viktor Saneev died on 2 January at the age of 76 in Sydney, where he had lived since the 1990s. He won three Olympic gold medals (1968, 1972 and 1976) and one silver medal (1980) in the triple jump. Also a triple jump world record-holder, he was named Georgia’s best athlete of the 20th century. His accomplishments and contribution to sport were honoured with the Olympic Order in 1983, as well as Georgia’s Medal of Honour and the Presidential Order of Excellence. More info at www.geonoc.org.ge.
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the President of the Portuguese Republic, has honoured Tokyo 2020 medallists Pedro Pichardo and Jorge Fonseca and the President of the Portuguese NOC, José Manuel Constantino. Pichardo, the Olympic triple jump champion, was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit. Fonseca, a bronze medallist in judo (-100kg), received the insignia of Commander of the Order Infante D. Henrique. Constantino was awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Public Instruction for his role “over many years regarding the Olympic representations of Portugal” and also for his work, which has had a “training and pedagogical mission of national scope and international repercussion”. More details here.
Vaccination of the Spanish team going to the Winter Games in Beijing began on 12 January at the Spanish NOC headquarters in Madrid, under the supervision of NOC President Alejandro Blanco (photo). This vaccination has been made possible by the joint efforts of the NOC and the Health Council of the Community of Madrid, as was previously the case for the team that took part in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. More details here.
The Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), whose President is IOC Member Mustafa Berraf, organised its first-ever international conference on protecting the environment and combatting climate change in Africa. The conference was held remotely on 10 January from Durban (South Africa) and brought together nearly 150 participants – representatives from African NOCs and environmental and sustainable development experts. The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, and the IOC President addressed the participants via video messages. The conference saw the African Olympic and sporting movement show widespread support for the international efforts to combat climate change jointly led by the UN and the IOC. In light of the success of this first edition, Berraf announced that a second edition would be held in 2023 in Hammamet (Tunisia), on the sidelines of the 2nd African Beach Games. More info at www.africaolympic.com