Olympic Highlights 23/04/2021

23 Apr 2021



IOC President Thomas Bach chaired the IOC Executive Board (EB) meeting which met virtually on 21 April. The EB members discussed the next editions of the Olympic Games, the Olympic motto, and several other Olympic topics. Kirsty Coventry, EB member and Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, was present in Lausanne.

The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee underlined their readiness ahead of this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. They are now fully focused on delivering this summer’s Games, following the successful start of the Olympic Torch Relay on 25 March. After the 100 days to go milestone was passed one week ago, Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko and CEO Muto Toshiro reinforced the joint focus on COVID-19 countermeasures, explaining that the team in Tokyo are now entering the final stages of preparations to deliver this year’s Games safely, securely and successfully. Speaking about the update, President Bach said: “Tokyo continues to be the best-prepared Olympic city ever. “Now we are working together – the IOC, the IPC [International Paralympic Committee] and the Organising Committee – together with many experts around the world, and in particular the World Health Organization, on the second version of the Playbooks, which will be scientific based and very factual, and will be published before the end of this month.” An update was also provided to the IOC EB on the Olympic Torch Relay. Full details on the Tokyo 2020’s update here.

In addition, a report was provided on the progress being made by Milano Cortina 2026. This followed the Coordination Commission meeting held with the Organising Committee on 19 April, led by Chair Sari Essayah (see also under ‘Commissions’ section). More details here.

The IOC EB fully endorsed IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) recommendations in regard to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter and Athlete Expression at the Olympic Games. Presented by Kirsty Coventry, IOC AC Chair, the recommendations are the result of an extensive qualitative and quantitative consultation process implemented by the IOC AC which started in June 2020 and involved over 3,500 athletes, representing 185 different NOCs and all 41 Olympic sports, and ensuring fully gender-equal representation. The consultation was supported by the Continental Associations’ Athletes’ Commissions and the World Olympians Association. The IOC AC made six recommendations with regard to: Increase opportunities for athletes' expression during the Olympic Games; Increase athletes’ expression outside the Olympic Games; Preserve the podium, field of play (FoP) and official ceremonies; Provide clarity on sanctions;  Provide more information around Rule 50;  Restructure Rule 50 into two rules and increase clarity of Rule 50.2.

The conclusions presented by the IOC AC will be taken into account from the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 onwards. The proposed change of Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter will be addressed, taking the evaluation of the implementation at one edition of the Olympic Games (Tokyo 2020) and one edition of the Olympic Winter Games (Beijing 2022) into account. Full IOC AC Athlete Expression report here. Read full news release here.

The EB discussed a proposal made by IOC President Thomas Bach to add the word “together” after a hyphen to the Olympic motto “faster, higher, stronger”. The idea to start this discussion was proposed to the 137th IOC Session last month after President Bach’s re-election. The suggestion for the motto in different languages would be:

  • Latin: “citius, altius, fortius – communis“
  • English: “faster, higher, stronger – together”
  • French: “plus vite, plus haut, plus fort – ensemble“
  • German: “schneller, höher, stärker – gemeinsam“.

The proposal has already received a great deal of support, including from the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee. The EB endorsed the idea, and the IOC Members will now be asked for their comments. Depending on the outcome of this consultation, a proposal for a change of the Olympic Charter may be put forward to the IOC Session in Tokyo in three months from now. 

The EB also accepted two applications for a change of nationality. Full details here.


On 20 April, the IOC President was in Montreux, Switzerland, for the Opening Session of the 45th UEFA Congress. He told the delegates: “Our organisations share the unprecedented experience of having postponed our major events: UEFA Euro 2020 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. We set the same priority of ensuring the health and safety of all participants. This is exactly the reason why we can learn from each other when it comes to effective COVID19 countermeasures. We, on our side, will certainly be closely watching UEFA Euro 2020 and incorporate your experience in the overall COVID-19 countermeasures that will be in place in Tokyo”. He went on: “a safe and successful UEFA Euro 2020 will also greatly contribute to creating confidence in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020”. Full speech by the President here.

In other news, President Bach discussed a number of topical Olympic issues with IOC EB member Kirsty Coventry. The President also joined Coventry for the conference call with the Global Network of Athletes’ Commissions.

President Bach discussed the preparations for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 with Juan Antonio Samaranch, the Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for these Games.

IOC / Greg Martin

With International Handball Federation (IHF) President Hassan Moustafa, the IOC President discussed topics of mutual interest including the preparations for the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The IOC President had also a meeting with Michael Payne, a marketing consultant and former IOC Marketing Director.

IOC / Greg Martin

Following the presentation of its recommendations to the EB in regard to Rule 50, the IOC Athletes’ Commission, chaired by Kirsty Coventry, organised on the same day a conference call with the Global Network of Athletes’ Commissions. During the call, the athletes offered their full support and commitment to the recommendations.

The second IOC Coordination Commission meeting with Milano Cortina 2026 was held virtually on 19 April. Despite the ongoing difficulties related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Milano Cortina 2026 Organising Committee showed the significant progress that it has been able to make since the previous Coordination Commission meeting in September last year. Milano Cortina 2026 presented to the Commission, chaired by Sari Essayah, an exciting overview of its engagement strategy that will follow over the coming years, and will engage all generations. Venues were also discussed during the meeting, and the Commission was pleased to hear that a consortium has been chosen to create the masterplan for the Milan Olympic Village. Full news release here.

TOP Partners

Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb, in partnership with the IOC, has announced the launch of a new initiative that will provide elite athletes, Olympians and Paralympians with Airbnb accommodation credits. Over the next eight years, the Athlete Travel Grants programme will offer up to 500 athletes per year a USD 2,000 Airbnb credit to use for travel-related accommodation costs linked to their sporting careers. The IOC and Airbnb announced a nine-year, five-Games partnership in 2019. All of the IOC’s joint initiatives launched with Airbnb are in line with the new Olympic Agenda 2020+5 recommendations, which call on the IOC to continue to develop programmes and platforms for the direct benefit of athletes. Airbnb and the IOC have, to date, allocated a total of USD 40 million to direct support for athletes. Read the full news release here.

Other Olympic news

On 22 April, the IOC made landmark move into virtual sports by announcing first-ever Olympic Virtual Series. The IOC will partner with five IFs (World Baseball Softball Confederation, Union Cycliste Internationale, World Rowing, World Sailing and Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) and game publishers to produce the Olympic Virtual Series (OVS), the first-ever, Olympic-licensed event for physical and non-physical virtual sports. Taking place ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the OVS will begin on 13 May, continuing through to 23 June 2021. The Olympic Virtual Series will mobilise virtual sport, esports and gaming enthusiasts all around the world in order to reach new Olympic audiences, while also encouraging the development of physical and non-physical forms of sports in line with the recommendations of the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020+5. Read the full news release here. Read also the news from UCI.

international federations

summer ifs

On 22 April, World Athletics and the organisers of the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade22 marked Earth Day 2021 by signing up to the United Nations Climate Change (UNCC) Sports for Climate Action Framework, an initiative supporting and guiding sports organisations to measure, reduce and offset their carbon emissions in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. Signing up to the Framework underscores World Athletics’  broader approach as outlined in the World Athletics Sustainability Strategy, a 10-year road map unveiled in April 2020 whose goals include transitioning to carbon neutrality across all of its operations and events by 2030. Full info here.

Following the recent announcement concerning the International Swimming Federation (FINA) Diving World Cup 2021 taking place at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre between 1 and 6 May, and the Marathon Swimming Olympic Qualification events taking place in Setubal, Portugal, between 19 and 20 June, an Artistic Swimming operational test will be now be organised in Tokyo in July. This follows FINA’s decision, in agreement with the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Japanese authorities and the IOC, to move the Artistic Swimming Olympic Qualification event to June 2021, at a location outside Japan. Full info here. On 23 April, the FINA announced that the city of Barcelona, Spain, will host this qualification event from 10 to 13 June 2021. In addition, the official logo of the 15th edition of the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) was unveiled in the host city, Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates), on 20 April. The competition is scheduled from 16 to 21 December 2021. More details here.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) has welcomed two new additions. The Ukrainian Surfing Federation (USF) will join the ISA as the 109th Member Nation, while the Club des Sports de Glisse (CSG) has been newly acknowledged as the entity in charge of the National Federation for Surfing in Algeria. Full info here.

Winter ifs

On 22 April, to mark Earth Day 2021, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) announced the first Biathlon Climate Challenge, which seeks to connect an active lifestyle with climate action. Fans are challenged to join one of 10 different teams – all led by biathlon superstars – and track their physical activity via a fitness app, which will convert the distance they have covered or the calories they have burned into trees planted in a reforestation project. The launch of the Challenge is part of the IBU’s Sustainability Strategy 2020-2030, which commits the IBU to addressing sustainability needs in five different areas: climate, sport, people, venue and events, and communications and awareness. Its climate goal is to reduce emissions aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, and to be climate-neutral as a sport by no later than 2030. More details here.

national olympic committees


The Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) and the National Sports Training Center (NSTC) recently launched the ‘100 Days to Tokyo’ countdown ceremony to inspire the delegation for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. On the same day, CTOC released the Olympic hopeful’s image to support the national athletes and catch the people’s attention on Tokyo 2020. More details here.

NOC of Lithuania

The annual Olympic Education Forum, launched six years ago by the NOC of Lithuania (LNOC), was held in a virtual format for the first time. The event was attended by 1,300 participants, including educators, coaches, and representatives of municipalities and the sport and education sectors. The participants were welcomed by the First Lady of Lithuania, Diana Nausėdienė; the Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Jurgita Šiugždinienė; and LNOC President Daina Gudzinevičiūtė. The topic of the Forum was “Physical Literacy: a Different Point of View”. Two discussions were held in the course, during which experts spoke about the importance of physical literacy for quality living and the environment that should be created for the development of physical literacy. The presentation of all the speakers – local and foreign experts – had one thing in common: the emphasis on physical literacy as a necessity to be studied in the same way as languages, mathematics or other subjects. More info at www.ltok.lt.

Mongolian NOC

Former Mongolian NOC President Demchigjav Zagdsuren (photo) died in Ulaanbaatar on 21 April at age of 63. A graduate of the Mongolian Medical University, he served as national team doctor for many years. Zagdsuren was also the longest-serving NOC President (2001–2020). An OCA EB member, ANOC Commission member and Council member of the East Asian Olympic Committees, he also led the Mongolian Sports Medicine Federation and Weightlifting Federation, as well as the Mongolian Paralympic Committee. Under his leadership, the NOC fulfilled several development projects such as construction of its “Olympic House” headquarters, the establishment of a National Olympic Academy and a National Anti-Doping Agency, and the creation of local Olympic Councils. He attended 10 editions of the Olympic Summer and Winter Games as team doctor, Chef de Mission and Head of Delegation. More info here at the OCA website.

The Executive Committee of the NOC of Morocco, whose President is Faïçal Laraichi, held its 28th meeting, by videoconference, on 15 April. The subjects addressed included: the ethical and financial reports of 2019 and 2020; the date of the next NOC Ordinary General Assembly; support for the relevant national federations for the Olympic Games; logistical preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020; and the status of Moroccan qualification. The programme of the next videoconferences of the NOC’s Digital Olympic Academy were also addressed. More details here.

Russian Olympic Committee

A delegation from the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) paid a two-day official visit to Armenia. During the visit, the ROC President, Stanislav Pozdnyakov (r. on photo), and his counterpart from the NOC of Armenia, Gagik Tsarukyan (l.), signed a Memorandum of Cooperation. According to the agreement, the parties will promote direct contact between the national sports federations and cooperate in the training of athletes, coaches and other sports specialists. The MoU involves various forms of cooperation: the participation of teams and athletes in bilateral and multilateral competitions and training camps to be held in the territory of the countries; the exchange of coaches, experts and students to swap information and experience; exchange invitations to participate in congresses, conferences, seminars and courses organised for officials; and joint sports events and projects. Full details here.

NOC of Serbia

The NOC of Serbia recently presented its project entitled “Sakura Olympic tree line”. In partnership with the Japanese embassy, the City of Belgrade and the Japanese Business Alliance in Serbia (JBAS), the NOC planted 67 trees symbolising the Olympic rings, with the aim of promoting a healthier and better environment, and at the same time sending a strong message of friendship and solidarity between the two nations and leaving a legacy for future generations. This message was sent from the planting ceremony by the Japanese Ambassador in Belgrade, Takahiko Katsumata; the Mayor of Belgrade, Zoran Radojičić; the JBSA President, Goran Pekez; and NOC President Božidar Maljković. The tree line is planted in central Belgrade, on the Sava river boardwalk, a popular recreational, sports and leisure area of the city. Info at www.oks.org.rs.

Spanish NOC

To mark Earth Day on 22 April, the Spanish NOC announced a cooperation agreement with Banco Santander, which will become the NOC’s worldwide sustainable development strategy partner. NOC President Alejandro Blanco, Olympic champion Mireia Belmonte and the Head of Sponsorships, Events and Social Media at Santander Spain, Felipe Martín (see photo), formalised the agreement at a ceremony held at the NOC headquarters in Madrid. Among other things, the agreement offers a wide range of sustainable products and services to all national and autonomous community federations, from hiring hybrid and electric cars to energy efficiency loans to optimise, for example, energy consumption in sports facilities. More details here.

Recognised organisations


The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has appointed Colleen Wrenn (photo) to the newly created role of Chief Paralympic Games Delivery Officer. Wrenn brings to the IPC 20 years of experience in the planning and delivery of major events, including involvement in the 2010, 2012 and 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games, as well as the 2019 Panamerican and Parapan American Games. She joins the IPC from TrackTown USA, where she was a Senior Director. Full info here.


The International Committee for the Mediterranean Games (ICMG) Executive Committee met for the second time in 2021, to discuss important topics for the 2021 Ordinary Elective General Assembly and the progress of preparations for the 19th Mediterranean Games in Oran in 2022, the 20th Mediterranean Games in Taranto in 2026 and the Mediterranean Beach Games in Pesaro, in 2023. More detailed info here.


The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s 2021 Play True Day Campaign reached over 87 million people around the globe last 9 April. Centred around the theme “What does Play True mean to you?”, the campaign, once again saw athletes, National and Regional Anti-Doping Organisations, Sports Federations, governments, Major Event Organisers and other stakeholders from the global anti-doping community unite in celebration of the Play True message. Full details here.

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