Olympic Highlights 2019/08/05

IOC / Greg Martin

IOC activities


On 23 July, IOC President Thomas Bach embarked on a four-day world trip that took him to Gwangju (Republic of Korea), Tokyo (Japan) and Lima (Peru). 

The IOC President was in Gwangju for the World Aquatics Championships. Welcomed by Julio César Maglione, the President of the International Swimming Federation (FINA) and an IOC Honorary Member, President Bach saw the third day of action in the pool, with some exciting evening finals. After watching Italian star Simona Quadarella power her way to victory in the 1,500 metres freestyle, he presented her with her gold medal.

IOC / Greg Martin
Also there to compete were the two Syrian members of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team from the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Yusra Mardini and Rami Anis. Both are working to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.  President Bach discussed their plans with them and found out about their progress.

Before heading to watch the competitions, President Bach took part in a joint meeting with the FINA Bureau and the four IOC Vice-Presidents, Zaiqing Yu, Juan Antonio Samaranch, Uğur Erdener and Anita DeFrantz.  This was the first time that such a joint meeting had taken place. Both parties praised the close cooperation that has been taking place and the preparations for the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Full story here.

While in Gwangju, the President had meetings with IOC Members Seung Min Ryu and Kee Heung Lee, as well as with FINA President Julio César Maglione and FINA Vice-President Sam Ramsamy, both IOC Honorary Members.

IOC / Greg Martin
With exactly one year to go until the opening of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the IOC President officially invited the world’s Olympic athletes to take part in the Olympic Games. At the celebrations, President Bach symbolically handed invitations to the Presidents of the NOCs of Greece, China, France, the USA, Senegal, Australia and Japan, as well as the Chef de Mission of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team. Speaking at the ceremony, President Bach said: “One year from now, Japan will make history. It will be a wonderful and unique moment for our gracious Japanese hosts to show the world the best of Japan: your rich history and traditions, your cutting-edge innovation, your culture of hospitality, and, of course, your love for sport.” He continued: “Preparations are making excellent progress, thanks to the amazing work of the Organising Committee and with outstanding cooperation and support from the government and the business community. There is so much to look forward to. I have never seen an Olympic city as prepared as Tokyo with one year to go before the Olympic Games.”

The ceremony took place at the Tokyo International Forum, which will host weightlifting at the Olympic Games next year. It was attended by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, IOC Coordination Commission Chair John Coates, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, and the President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Yoshiro Mori.

IOC / Greg Martin
Earlier in the day, as part of the Let’s GoGo event that allowed residents of Tokyo to try Olympic sports, the IOC President practised fencing with local children before formally inviting the athletes of the world to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Full press release here.

The IOC President also had a round-table discussion with the team in charge of the Tokyo 2020 Opening and Closing Ceremonies, before meeting representatives from the Japanese business community. IOC Members John Coates and Alex Gilady, respectively Chair and Vice-Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for Tokyo 2020, IOC Member Morinari Watanabe, the new Japanese Olympic Committee President Yasuhiro Yamashita and Tokyo 2020 executives attended the meeting.

President Bach also held a meeting with the Tokyo 2020 Advisory Board, at which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was present.

Together with John Coates, the IOC President had a bilateral meeting with Yoshiro Mori, Tokyo 2020 President, and Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 CEO.

President Bach also had a private meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe concerning the preparations for hosting the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

IOC / Greg Martin
From Tokyo, President Bach flew to Lima for the Pan-American Games.  Before attending the opening ceremony, President Bach was guest of honour at the Pan Am Sports Congress. Welcomed by Pan Am Sports President and IOC Member Neven Ilic, President Bach gave a wide-ranging keynote speech.  He praised the progress made by Pan Am Sports under the leadership of Neven Ilic, with the organisation having embraced the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms through its Strategic Plan 2018-2023. He also underlined the importance of solidarity, especially when there is a growing tide of nationalism in the world. “It is a great opportunity for us to show how relevant, how important our values are. The Olympic Movement stands in contrast to this zeitgeist. We stand for dialogue, peace, diversity and universality,” he said, before adding: “The more our values are challenged, the more we stand together.” He also touched on the cooperation and support of the IOC for the Pan-American Games with various programmes in the Athletes’ Village.

IOC / Greg Martin
The President was able to meet athletes ahead of the opening ceremony at the Pan Am Athletes` Village. Before joining several athletes in the dining hall, the President took part in a Q-and-A session with the athletes. During a session which lasted more than an hour, the President took questions on a range of topics, from the relationship of e-games to the Olympic Movement to helping athletes in their future careers and the role that the Olympic Channel can play in supporting sport, particularly the Pan-Am Games.

Later, the President was joined by the President of Peru, Martín Vizcarra, at the opening ceremony of the Pan-American Games at the National Stadium in Lima. Full press release here.

While being in Lima, the IOC President also invited all IOC Members present at the Pan-American Games to a breakfast.

Meetings were also held with IOC Members Richard W. Pound, Gerardo Werthein, Neven Ilic, Camilo Pérez López Moreira and Andrew Parsons, as well as with Panama NOC President Camilo Amado and Panama Sports Minister Eduardo Cerda.

During his stay in Lima, the President was accompanied by IOC Member in Peru Iván Dibós.

IOC / Greg Martin
President Bach welcomed Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellara, a four time Olympian (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016) and two-time Olympic champion (Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016) in the individual time trial. The two men discussed various topics related to the Olympic Games, the importance of the Olympic Games legacy and role of the athletes within the Olympic Movement.  During his visit to Olympic House, Cancellara signed the Olympians’ Wall in the IOC Sports Department.

IOC / Greg Martin
Nick Hayek, President of the Executive Group Management Board of the Swatch Group, was hosted by the IOC President at Olympic House. After a tour of the IOC headquarters with the President, he was presented with the 125th IOC anniversary commemorative medal and signed the IOC Golden Book.  During their meeting, the two men spoke about the excellent partnership between the IOC and OMEGA, Official Timekeeper for 28 Olympic Games since 1932 and TOP Partner until 2032.

A number of topical Olympic matters were addressed in a meeting with IOC Executive Board member Ser Miang Ng.

Alia Gachassin
On 1 August in Lausanne, the IOC President was the guest of honour for the Swiss National Day, at the invitation of the Mayor of the Olympic Capital, Grégoire Junod. Speaking at the event, the President highlighted what an honour it was to be invited, as a foreigner, to be the keynote speaker on the Swiss national holiday. He also underlined the historical ties, which stretch back over more than a century, between the IOC, the city of Lausanne, the canton of Vaud and Switzerland, and their shared values of friendship, diversity, universality, peace and excellence.


Tricia Smith was elected to the Panam Sports Executive Committee during the Panam Sports General Assembly in Lima. She is President of the Canadian Olympic Committee and a member of the Executive Council of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC).



Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul has been awarded a commemorative royal medal by the King of Thailand for her and her husband Somsak Leeswadtrakul’s donation to the King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital. She received her distinction during the opening ceremony of the new Bhumisirimangalanusorn Building at the Hospital. The ceremony was presided over by the King and Queen of Thailand. Also in attendance was Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, Chairwoman of the Thai Red Cross Society, which operates the Hospital.

Top Partners

Tokyo 2020 / Shugo Takemi
On 24 July, the official countdown clock for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 was unveiled by OMEGA, the Official Timekeeper of the Olympic Games, to celebrate one year to go until the Opening Ceremony. John Coates, Chair of the IOC’s Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission, joined Christophe Savioz, Country Manager of Swatch Group Japan; Alain Zobrist, CEO of OMEGA Timing; and Yoshiro Mori, President of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, to reveal the clock at Marunouchi Central Square beside Tokyo Station. Tokyo 2020 will mark the 29th time since 1932 that Worldwide Olympic Partner OMEGA has supplied cutting-edge timekeeping services to the Olympic Games. News release here.

Worldwide Olympic Partner Toyota has developed an Accessible People Mover (APM) vehicle to transport visitors with mobility needs around Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 venues, and has designed four futuristic robots (see also under ‘Tokyo 2020’) to assist and engage with athletes and spectators, while also facilitating remote participation. Toyota will deploy approximately 200 short-distance battery electric vehicles to transport athletes, staff and visitors with accessibility needs around venues. The technology will also help reduce Tokyo 2020’s environmental burden to historically low levels. News release here.


Coach a group of refugee athletes who just started a new sport, and help them qualify for Tokyo 2020. In just one year. This is the ambitious project taken up by the three-time sport shooting Olympic champion Niccolo Campriani. The journey of the three selected refugees is being documented by the Olympic Channel original series 'Taking Refuge: Target Tokyo 2020', which will air in early 2020. Their aim is to reach the minimum qualifying score (MQS) so they can be selected by the Refugee Olympic Team or by a NOC. Read here an exclusive interview of Campriani.

As part of the process of retesting samples taken during the Olympic Games London 2012, the IOC announced on 23 July that an athlete had been disqualified from these Games. The athlete in question is Artur Taymazov of Uzbekistan, who competed in the men’s freestyle 120kg wrestling event (qualifications and final), in which he ranked first and was awarded the gold medal. The IOC has delegated the selecting of samples to be reanalysed and the results management to the International Testing Agency (ITA). Full press release here.

On 24 July, the Olympic Channel announced that its live streaming channel is now available in Australia on 7plus, the streaming platform of the Official Australian Olympic Broadcaster, Seven West Media. The launch of the Olympic Channel on 7plus marks one year to go to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and complements Seven’s media rights agreement with the IOC, which includes broadcasting rights for Tokyo 2020. News release here.


Summer IFS

Working in cooperation with the International Athletics Film Festival (FICA), the Heritage and Broadcast Departments of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) have launched a film competition for young filmmakers from around the world. The competition is open to all aspiring filmmakers under the age of 23, with participants invited to submit short athletics-themed films, no longer than two minutes, made on mobile phones. More info here.

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has launched a new campaign called “Ride and Smile” to promote cycling for all. The campaign’s message is that whoever you are, wherever you live, and whether you ride competitively or just for fun, cycling can help lift your spirits. More info and the promotional video can be found here.  

The International Association Football Federation (FIFA) Council has unanimously agreed to a proposal to expand the number of teams taking part in the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ from 24 to 32, with effect as of the next edition of the tournament in 2023. The expected appointment of host(s) will be held in May 2020. More info here.

Kazan (Russian Federation) and Budapest (Hungary) will host, respectively, the 2025 and 2027 editions of the World Aquatics Championships. The announcement was made by the International Swimming Federation (FINA) in Gwangju on the sidelines of the 2019 World Championships. Kazan and Budapest have both hosted the competition before, in 2015 and 2017 respectively. More details here.

World Taekwondo (WT), the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation (THF) and United World Wrestling (UWW) hosted the first-ever joint Olympic-sport training event, named Aspire 2gether for Peace, in the Azraq Refugee Camp in Jordan at the existing Humanitarian Taekwondo Centre. The joint event is a tangible outcome of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between WT, the THF and UWW on 22 October 2018 to promote humanitarian, peace and social-development supporting initiatives. The event was attended by a delegation from all three organisations, including WT President and THF Chairman Chungwon Choue, as well as Olympic gold medallists and THF/WT Ambassadors Wu Jingyu and Ahmed Abu Ghaush, and Olympic medallists and UWW Ambassadors Arsen Julfalakyan and Clarissa Chun. IOC Executive Board member HRH Prince Feisal Al Hussein attended on behalf of the IOC, and UN Refugee Agency delegates attended the event on High Commissioner Filippo Grandi’s behalf. More details here on the WT website and here on the UWW website.

Two-time Grand Slam singles champions Mary Pierce, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Li Na became the latest players to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2019. The induction ceremony took place in Newport, Rhode Island (USA), in July. Full details here on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) website. In addition, the ITF Wheelchair Tennis Committee launched its new Wheelchair Tennis Development Plan, which will be instrumental in the continued growth of the sport around the world. The Plan aligns with the framework and activities of the ITF’s broader development strategy. The three core objectives are: increasing the number of wheelchair tennis players; increasing the number and geographical spread of National Associations offering wheelchair tennis activities; and developing talented players, particularly those from nations that are both under-resourced and under-represented. More info here.


NOC of Azerbaijan
During the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), which took place from 21 to 27 July in the Azerbaijani capital, Baku, the NOC of Azerbaijan set up an “Olympic Culture and Sports Pavilion” at the athletes’ village, as part of its Olympic Culture and Education Programme. Forty-nine Azerbaijani schools represented European countries and shared knowledge about the culture, history and values of each. The pavilion inauguration event was attended by NOC Vice-President Chingiz Huseynzada, European Olympic Committees President Janez Kocijančič, Minister for Youth and Sport Azad Rahimov, Minister for Education Jeyhun Baryamov, NOC Deputy Secretary General Azer Aliyev and officials from participating countries. In addition, on 29 July, the NOC hosted a “Victory Days” event dedicated to EYOF winning athletes and OCEP 2019 winning schools. This annual event has been initiated by the NOC and brings together medallists, members of their families and friends, as well as representatives of the sports community and the media. The volunteers, who actively supported the Azerbaijan team and OCEP schools during the Festival at the athletes’ village, were also honoured.  More info at www.noc-aze.org.

Bahrain Olympic Committee
The Physical Performance Laboratory, which falls under the authority of the Bahrain Olympic Committee (BOC), offers high-tech equipment for national clubs’ and teams’ athletes to undergo various physical tests, as was recently the case with players from Al Ahli Club (see photo). This equipment provides precise, detailed statistics on the players’ physical conditions, including cardiac and respiratory capacities and functionality.

In addition, 26 coaches from Bahrain and Saudi Arabia attended a level 2 course, which is part of the National Coaching Programme. This training programme is conducted by the BOC’s Olympic Academy, in cooperation with the Coaching Association of Canada, across various national sports organisations. Furthermore, officials from the nine Bahraini sports federations that make up the Bahrain Combat Sports Council attended a dedicated workshop to explain the administrative, financial and legal regulations. More info at www.boc.bh.

Brazilian NOC
On 24 July, Team Brazil celebrated the one-year-to-go milestone before the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in the heart of the Pan-American village in Lima. The Brazilian delegation attended the official welcome ceremony, held by the organising committee of the Pan-American Games. About 80 members of Team Brazil, including the President of the Brazilian NOC, Paulo Wanderley, attended the ceremony. More details here. In addition, the Brazilian NOC announced a parternship with the production company Mauricio de Sousa Produções, which publishes Turma da Mônica, one of the most famous comic book series in the world, with a view to boosting the number of Brazil’s fans at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. This partnership will involve joint projects and initiatives between the famous comic book and the members of the Brazilian delegation in Japan and their fans. More details here.

With one year to go before the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Cyprus’ preparations are well underway, with the Cypriot NOC’s “Adopt an Athlete on the Road to Tokyo” sponsorship programme in full swing. Through this programme, the NOC has been obtaining sponsorship for its athletes from various companies and organisations, which support, or “adopt”, one or more of the 32 athletes from the pre-Olympic team who have been included in the programme as they prepare to take part in the Games. The programme is also being supported by the Cypriot Government and the Cypriot diaspora, while other companies are in talks to assist other athletes from the Cypriot team. More info at www.olympic.org.cy.

Spanish NOC
The Spanish NOC and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) have signed a three-year Memorandum of Understanding that sets out a cooperation framework in which the two parties can develop and implement initiatives. Efforts will be focused on the UN’s 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals, with campaigns to raise awareness among the public and to promote the use of biodegradable, sustainable products. The agreement was signed by NOC President Alejandro Blanco (left in photo) and Alex Mejía (right), Director of UNITAR’s Division for People and Social Inclusion and head of the institute’s CIFAL Global Network. More info here.  

British Olympic Association
With one year to go until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, British athletes gathered to launch a new campaign to inspire the nation to get behind Team GB and showcase the best of British sport around the world. The “Sport is GREAT” campaign will demonstrate the UK’s capacity to inspire millions of people around the globe through sport. New posters and promotional materials featuring the Team GB athletes will be widely displayed and distributed. More info here on the British Olympic Association’s website.

Turkey Olympic Committee
More than 2,400 swimmers from 59 countries competed in the Turkish Olympic Committee (TOC)’s 31st Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race in Istanbul on 21 July. The 6.5km Race began in Kanlıca, on the Asian side of Istanbul, and ended in Kuruçeşme Cemil Topuzlu Park on the European side, which makes it the only official competitive swimming race to cross between two continents. Exactly half of this year’s quota was made up of international swimmers, more than ever before. Thousands of fans attended the event, including IOC Vice-President and TOC President Uğur Erdener and Samsung Electronics Turkey President Daehyun Kim. More info here.


Tokyo 2020

Tokyo 2020
On the eve of the One-Year-To-Go milestone, the Tokyo Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2020 confirmed to the IOC, during its tenth Project Review (22-23 July), that preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 continue to be on track and that excitement for the Games is growing, engaging millions across the country. “The people of Japan have great excitement for the Games,” said IOC Coordination Commission Chair John Coates. “We already see an incredible level of enthusiasm, with unprecedented levels of interest in buying tickets, an excellent contribution from the public in recycling phones to create the Olympic medals, and the overwhelming number of applications to become a volunteer.” Tokyo 2020 presented key updates on operational planning, which included extensive plans on testing transport flows this summer, comprehensive mitigation measures on the impact of adverse weather, and progress on test events as well as delivery plans for venues. A total of 56 test events will be held in three waves for every discipline at the Games, with the events to run until May 2020. Full news release here.

Tokyo 2020
With exactly one year to go before the start of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the Organising Committee unveiled the design of the medals that will be awarded at the Games next summer. A specially assigned selection panel had the difficult task of whittling down more than 400 entries, before settling on the ideas presented by Junichi Kawanishi, Director of the Japan Sign Design Association and the Osaka Design Society. The intricate designs, which will adorn all 5,000 medals, reflect patterns of light in order to symbolise the energy of the athletes and those who support them. The designs also represent how athletes strive for victory on a daily basis, as well as the Olympic themes of diversity and friendship. Full news release here.

Tokyo 2020
Tokyo 2020 also unveiled four new futuristic robots which will be deployed to assist spectators, athletes and officials at competition venues and to relay sound, images and physical feedback from venues to those watching remotely. The Robot Project will help realise one of Tokyo 2020’s core visions – “Unity in Diversity” – aiming to foster a welcoming environment for all athletes and visitors, and those unable to attend venues who want to experience the Games remotely at other locations in Japan. Full news release here.



The IOC announced the first 13 Athlete Role Models (ARMs) who will support the young athletes going to the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020. Selected by the International Federations whose sports will be featured at Lausanne 2020, the list includes many legendary names from the world of sport, including Olympic and world champions. In Lausanne, they will play a key role in supporting, mentoring and offering advice to the 1,880 young athletes who will be participating in the Games which will be held from 9 to 22 January 2020. News release here.




The European Olympic Committees (EOC) have announced that a partnership agreement was signed between the EOC European Union (EU) Office and the Belgian Olympic and Interfederal Committee (BOIC) in Baku (Azerbaijan) on 22 July. The agreement was signed by EOC President Janez Kocijančič (left in photo) and BOIC President and IOC Member Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant (right) at the 15th Summer European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF), which was held in the Azerbaijani capital. The partnership agreement is the latest example of the long-standing cooperation between the BOIC and the EOC EU Office. The BOIC is the 15th NOC to become an official bilateral partner of the EOC EU Office, and the 29th partner organisation overall. More details here.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced that the 2020 edition of its Annual Symposium will be held on 17 and 18 March 2020 at the SwissTech Convention Centre in Lausanne. The 2020 Symposium will, among other matters, explore the new elements of the 2021 World Anti-Doping Code and International Standards, which are expected to be approved at the Fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport in Katowice (Poland) in early November 2019. More info here.

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