Olympic Highlights 25/05/2021

25 May 2021

IOC activities


Addressing the final meeting of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “With just 65 days to go until the Opening Ceremony, we are now very delivery-focused. The athletes from all around the world are grateful to Japan for its diligent preparations, and are looking forward to safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games where they can finally shine.” The President also confirmed that as many as 75 per cent of the residents of the Olympic Village are already vaccinated or have secured vaccination; and that there is good reason to believe that this figure will be well over 80 per cent at the time of the Games. (see also under “Commissions”).

Earlier, on 17 May, while the Olympic flame and the Hiroshima Peace Flame were united, as the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay was held in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a message from President Bach was read out on his behalf during the evening ceremony. In his message, he said: “Today we are uniting the Hiroshima Peace Flame and the Olympic flame in a universal call for peace.” President Bach spoke of his sympathy for all the people remembered in this special place, as well as the commitment to peace that has bonded the people of Hiroshima and the IOC. He concluded his message with: “From Hiroshima, the Olympic flame will carry this powerful message of peace to Tokyo and then, from Tokyo, on 23 July, to the entire world. So let us now unite the Hiroshima Peace Flame and the Olympic flame in our universal call for peace.” Check out the full news release, including the IOC President’s video message here.

On 18 May, President Bach addressed, through a video message, the Sports Ministers of the 27 Member States of the European Union (EU) on the topic of sports diplomacy. During his keynote speech, he outlined how sport can make a valuable contribution to the EU’s efforts to promote peace both inside and outside the bloc.

He also spoke of the importance of the European Sport Model, which “reflects the specific organisation of sport in Europe and is built on solidarity and volunteers. It is based on the twin principles of financial solidarity and the openness of fair competition,” he said.

During a phone call, President Bach and the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša, discussed the European Sports Model. They also discussed a wide range of other Olympic matters including the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the preparations and participation of the Slovenian team in the Games. The two leaders met last September when the IOC President was in Slovenia for a commemoration service in tribute to European Olympic Committees (EOC) President Janez Kocijančič. 

The EU sports diplomacy strategy and the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were among the topics discussed by President Bach during phone calls with IOC Members the Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Sari Essayah.

At Olympic House, President Bach held a meeting with IOC Member Watanabe Morinari, who is also President of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). They discussed several topics of mutual interest, including the final preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The IOC President spoke on the phone with Shen Haixiong, the President of China Central Television (CCTV) and China Media Group (CMG). They discussed the excellent partnership between their two organisations and talked about the next editions of the Olympic Games.

During a phone call, President Bach and Olympian Angela Ruggiero, a former IOC Member, discussed various topics of mutual interest, including the next editions of the Olympic Games. Ms Ruggiero is currently a member of the IOC Digital and Technology and Ethics commissions.

IOC / Greg Martin

In other news, President Bach welcomed German artist Rolf Lukaschewski. The close link between sport and art was one of the topics discussed.

IOC / Greg Martin

Last week, IOC President Thomas Bach chaired the IOC Executive Board (EB) meeting that was held virtually on 12 May. The EB members discussed the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and several other Olympic topics.

The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games highlighted recent test events, the Olympic Torch Relay and the publication of version two of the stakeholder Playbooks as key markers of the progress being made. The IOC EB received a summary of numerous test events that have been held successfully in Japan over the past few weeks (see also under ‘Organising Committees’). In parallel to this, the Olympic Torch Relay continues its journey across Japan. Another important update given to the EB focused on the launch of the second edition of the stakeholder Playbooks earlier this month, signalling the transition of Games preparations from a planning phase to operational mode. Read the full news release here.

Just a few months after the approval of its new strategic roadmap Olympic Agenda 2020+5, the EB discussed the practical implementation of a number of recommendations addressing topics whose urgency and importance have been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic: sustainability, legacy, gender equality and inclusion. The three topics discussed are integrated throughout the recommendations of Olympic Agenda 2020+5 and are at the heart of the Olympic Movement’s vision of ‘building a better world through sport’. They have all increased in importance over the past difficult year, with the pandemic pushing the world to strengthen its relationship with nature and the communities in which we live. Read the full news release here.

The IOC EB heard the presentation of two new important and tangible initiatives aiming to further protect the physical and mental well-being of athletes: the IOC Safe Sport Action Plan and the Mental Health in Elite Athletes Toolkit. Both projects are part of the practical implementation of Recommendation 5 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5, underlining the IOC’s commitment to developing programmes and initiatives to ensure that every athlete can train and compete in a safe sporting environment. Read the full news release here.

Among its discussions, the EB approved changes of nationalities for two athletes. Full details here.


The 11th and final meeting of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 concluded on 21 May. Speaking after the conclusion of these meetings, John Coates, the Chair of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020,  said: “It has become clearer than ever that these Games will be safe for everyone participating and the Japanese people. With the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games just over two months away, we are now fully in operational delivery mode. After nearly eight years of hard work and planning, the finish line is within touching distance. It is testament to the hard work of the Tokyo 2020 organisers, including the Japanese Government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japanese people, that we are able to look towards the Opening Ceremony on 23 July with such confidence.” In addition to advances made on vaccinations and understanding the current situation in Japan, it was announced during the Coordination Commission meeting that the IOC is already actively working with its Japanese partners in the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee on an IOC programme to bring medical personnel from abroad to support the safe and secure delivery of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Read the full news release here.

On 19 May, following the start of the Coordination Commission meeting, John Coates sent a letter to the stakeholders of the Olympic Movement. He informed them about the latest developments 65 days before the Opening Ceremony of the Games, assuring them that “our objective throughout has been to organise safe and secure Olympic Games, and we are working in close partnership with our Japanese colleagues to deliver this goal”. Read here the full text of the letter.

The IOC’s Future Host Commission, chaired by IOC Member Kristin Kloster Aasen, is continuing its detailed discussions with the Brisbane 2032 committee and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) about their potential to host the Games of the XXXV Olympiad in 2032. Brisbane 2032 has provided an “Initial Submission” in response to the IOC’s Future Host Questionnaire, to describe its vision, concept and legacy plans for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Last week, a remote meeting was held over three days, during which Brisbane 2032, the AOC and Paralympics Australia were supported to finalise their plans, in order to make a “Final Submission” to the Future Host Questionnaire in the coming weeks. The three levels of government supporting the project took part in the meetings. The Commission will review Brisbane 2032’s Final Submission before making a report to the IOC EB, which can decide to recommend the project for election by the Session as an Olympic host. Read the full news release here.

Other Olympic news

During a media briefing at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva (Switzerland) on 7 May, the Executive Director of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, Dr Michael Ryan, welcomed the strict COVID-19 countermeasures which are being put in place for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. Acknowledging that the Games are a complex event that requires a lot of logistics and risk management, he said WHO has “confidence that the International Olympic Committee and the host city Tokyo, and the Government of Japan, will make the right decisions regarding how best to manage the risks, and are working extremely hard right now to ensure that those risks are well managed”.

Reacting to the WHO’s statement, the IOC President noted on 10 May : “These very encouraging remarks by the World Health Organization are a clear signal to everyone: the athletes, the delegations from all around the globe, the Organising Committee, all the Japanese people and also the IOC and IPC.” He added: “We will continue to be guided by scientific and medical expertise from around the world to organise safe Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 for everyone.” Read the full news release here.

Beijing 2008 Olympian Kaveh Mehrabi has been appointed Director of the Athletes' Department. Created in the framework of Recommendation 3 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5, this new Department will contribute to strengthening the rights and responsibilities of athletes.  A former international badminton player and Olympian, Iran-born Mehrabi joined the IOC Sports Department over six years ago to lead the section in charge of relations and engagement with athletes and athlete-related programmes. With a sporting and multicultural background, Kaveh Mehrabi has over 10 years’ experience in international sports organisations. Full news release here.

On 19 May, the IOC has launched the Tokyo 2020 FanZone, an interactive gamification experience on olympics.com and the Tokyo 2020 official website and mobile app to engage and unite fans around the world leading up to and throughout the Olympic Games. The introduction of FanZone supports Olympic Agenda 2020+5, which was approved at the 137th IOC Session in March 2021; Recommendation 8 of the roadmap is: “Grow digital engagement with people”. Read the full news release here.

The Olympic Channel has been recognised by The Webby Awards for excellence in video across three digital content pieces launched in 2020: What Moves Me, Mariah: A Boxer’s Dream and Inspired By Sport. These three digital content pieces feature Olympians and Paralympians. Commonly referred to as “the internet’s highest honour,” The Webby Awards are the leading international recognition of excellence across digital channels. Read the full news release here.

The IOC’s official address is changing to reflect the name of the institution’s new headquarters, Olympic House, inaugurated in June 2019. The new postal address for the IOC, officialised by the city of Lausanne, is as follows: International Olympic Committee, Maison Olympique, 1007 Lausanne, Switzerland. It replaces the previous address, Château de Vidy, where 12 IOC employees first arrived in 1968. The Château, a part of Olympic House, is still in operation today, and provides meeting rooms and office space for the members of the Olympic Movement. Full news release here.

International Federations

Summer IFs

The World Rowing Federation (FISA) has launched the new World Rowing Rule Book app. This is now available to download for free on Android and iOS mobile devices. The app includes the World Rowing Statutes, Rules of Racing and related Bye-Laws and Appendices. Full info here.

national olympic committees

Albanian NOC

The President of the Albanian NOC, Fidel Ylli, was received on 11 May by the Chinese Ambassador in Tirana, Zhou Ding, during an official visit to the Embassy residence (photo). They discussed the preparations for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and several opportunities for cooperation between the NOC and the Chinese Embassy to promote the event, to schedule a training camp before the Games and to promote the host country through cultural exchanges and sport. Albania expects to participate in these Games in alpine skiing, with a team of three athletes. More info at www.nocalbania.org.al

Tom Cornille

The Belgian NOC (COIB) has announced that, on 7 May, the city of Antwerp inaugurated an Olympic rings monument, over a century after the Olympic Games were hosted there. The rings will tour the city for several months with an exhibition that traces the key places in Antwerp’s Olympic history, before they are permanently installed near the Kiel Olympic Stadium in September. Unable to organise a public celebration, the city is inviting its inhabitants and everyone else to celebrate the inauguration of the rings through this video. From 7 June, the rings will tour the city and help tell its Olympic history. Full details here. In addition, as part of its “Catwalk to Tokyo”, the COIB has put together a video clip in which high-level athletes present the collections of Team Belgium’s fashion partners. Find out more about the official uniforms of the Belgian athletes for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 here.

Miriam Jeske / COB

The Brazilian Olympic Committee (BOC) has announced that the first Brazilian athletes who will take part in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 started being vaccinated against COVID-19 on 14 May at the Army Physical Training Centre in Urca, in the southern zone of Rio de Janeiro (photo). This is a joint action between the Ministries of Defence, Health and Citizenship, with the coordination of the BOC and the Brazilian Paralympic Committee (BPC). It will allow for the immunisation of around 1,800 people who will travel to Japan, including athletes and other accredited personnel. The Team Brazil vaccination is part of the Federal Government's national immunisation plan, which guarantees more than 7,000 extra doses of vaccine to the Brazilian population, immunising 3,600 people. Full details here. In addition, the BOC has sent 20 containers of equipment to Tokyo so that the Brazilian Olympic delegation will have the best training conditions in Japan. Due to the pandemic, the BOC has acquired health items to protect the delegation in Japan as much as possible. With that in mind, in April the BOC sent the last containers with sports materials and equipment for the nine Team Brazil bases, the Olympic Village and the other facilities that will be used by the national delegation during the Games. Full details here.

The Colombian NOC has launched its new website (www.olimpicocol.co). Users will enjoy faster browsing and new features. The NOC has also announced the start of vaccination for its athletes who have already qualified or are in the process of qualifying for the Games in Tokyo 2020 and the team officials. More details here.


The “Kids Love Sports” programme run by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) with co-funding from the European Union, with a focus on refugee children, has been officially launched with a virtual kick-off event. As a symbolic act, HOC President and IOC member Spyros Capralos attended the event from the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens (photo). The programme is designed to provide further complementary activities to connect refugee children with sports activities conducted by physical education and sports science students from the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens within the selected reception centres and under HOC supervision. More details here.

Mongolian NOC

The Mongolian NOC presented the final Olympic grants to its Olympic Solidarity scholarship-holders during a ceremony held at Olympic House in Ulaanbaatar. The 17 athletes from eight sports have benefited from Olympic Solidarity scholarships during the last two years, and currently six of them are qualified for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, for which all the athletes present expressed their support. The grants were presented by NOC Acting President Ch. Naranbaatar and Secretary General Ch. Badar-Uugan. 

Moroccan NOC

The Moroccan NOC held its ordinary general assembly on 19 May at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Sports Complex in Rabat. The topics discussed included the accounts for 2019 and 2020. Those attending also watched a video message from the IOC President. More info here. In addition, the NOC’s Digital Olympic Academy held a videoconference on “Genetics and Sport: the impact of heredity on sports performance”. More details on www.cnom.org.ma.

Spanish NOC

Canoeist Saúl Craviotto and swimmer Mireia Belmonte (photo) will be the flagbearers for the Spanish delegation during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Together, they have a total of eight Olympic medals, including two golds for Craviotto and one gold for Belmondo. The choice of a man and a woman as flagbearers is in line with an IOC initiative to promote gender equality at the Games. In addition, the Spanish NOC has announced the appointment of Cayetano Cornet as the team’s Chef de Mission at the Games. More details here. Furthermore, the President of the Spanish NOC, Alejandro Blanco, held a meeting with 43 technical officials, referees and judges to inform them that, in accordance with the agreement signed with the Spanish Ministries of Health, Culture and Sport, and Defence, the Spanish delegation members selected by the IFs will also be vaccinated ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The details of the vaccination process itself were also discussed. More info here.

On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC), the country’s Olympic athletes shared how the TTOC has impacted their professional sporting careers. For its President, Brian Lewis, the TTOC will continue to put athletes first. Earlier this month, the TTOC rolled out its “75,000 steps in 75 days” initiative, which will run until Olympic Day (21 June), for which participants pay 75 dollars and can run, walk, cycle or swim. The money will go towards the TTOC's #10golds24 Athletes Welfare and Preparation Fund. More details here.

The Venezuelan NOC has unveiled the uniforms that will be worn by its delegation at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Each person will receive over 30 items that will be worn at various times, for ceremonies, competition and training. The uniforms will meet the highest biosecurity standards. More info here. On 13 May, the Venezuelan NOC marked 70 days to go until the Games in Tokyo by organising a press conference to provide information on the Games. Those taking part included the NOC President, the Minister for Youth and Sport, the President of the National Sports Institute and several athletes qualified for Tokyo 2020. Full details here.

Organising committees for the Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020

The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee provided the following update on its latest test events. With this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 approaching, athletes and teams from overseas visited Japan to participate in four test events: the International Volleyball Games - Tokyo Challenge 2021, the FINA Diving World Cup 2021, the Hokkaido – Sapporo Marathon Festival 2021 and READY STEADY TOKYO - Athletics. Due to COVID-19 countermeasures, the athletes and team members who visited Japan were required to comply with strict protocols in order to participate in the events. More than 700 athletes and over 6,000 related staff participated in the four test events. Read here the summary of these events.

In addition, seventy per cent of the quota places for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (which corresponds to over 7,800 athletes) have been allocated, with qualification in a number of sports and disciplines already completed.  Rigorous health and safety protocols have allowed the Tokyo 2020 qualification process to progress across the globe under the COVID-19 pandemic as part of more than 260 major events successfully organised by the International Sports Federations in the five continents since September (20 in the past two weeks). These events have had the cumulative participation of some 40,000 athletes. Read the full news release here.

Recognised organisations


A delegation from the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), led by its President, IOC Member Mustapha Berraf, and formed of IOC Members Paul Tergat and William Blick and ANOCA Secretary General Ahmed Ashim, were recently in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) to finalise the organisation of the 2022 African Youth Games in the city. The ANOCA President (left in photo) was received by the President of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat (right), at the institution’s headquarters. He was accompanied by its Secretary General, Ethiopian NOC President Ashebir Woldegiorgis Gayo. The African Youth Games in Addis Ababa, the African Games in Ghana and the African Beach Games in Tunisia were at the centre of the discussions, as was the issue of young people and sport. More info at www.africaolympic.com.

On 21 May, the Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) marked the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. On this occasion, GAISF President Raffaele Chiulli underlined the importance of solidarity and unity, and praised GAISF’s partnership with the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations’ (UNAOC) One Humanity campaign. This campaign recognises the ability of sport to further its call for promoting diversity and positive social change. More details here.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has appointed Professor Michael McNamee as Chair of its Ethics Expert Advisory Group. He holds professorships in ethics at KU Leuven, Belgium, and Swansea University, Wales. Prof. McNamee replaces Prof. Bartha Knoppers – Canada Research Chair in Law and Medicine and Director of the Centre of Genomics and Policy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics, McGill University – who has stepped down after 18 years on the Advisory Group, including five as its Chair. Full details here. In addition, WADA has launched “DCO Central”, its new doping control sample collection app for tablets that is now available free of charge for download and use. “DCO Central” is the third important module that has been released as part of WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) “Next Gen” project. Full details here.

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