This week, IOC President Thomas Bach was in Greece for the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 in Ancient Olympia, having chaired an IOC Executive Board (EB) meeting in Athens the preceding weekend. In Olympia, the President’s agenda included the commemoration of the EB’s 100th anniversary and the inauguration of the recently renovated International Olympic Academy.
The Olympic flame for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 was lit on 18 October in Ancient Olympia. Due to the COVID-19 countermeasures, the ceremony was held under strict conditions, with only a limited delegation present. President Bach and several guests were in attendance, showing their solidarity with the Beijing 2022 Games. These included the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou; the IOC EB members; and the IOC’s Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission Chair, Juan Antonio Samaranch. The Chinese delegation was led by IOC Vice-President, Special Representative and Vice-President of Beijing 2022 and Vice-President of the Chinese Olympic Committee Zaiqing Yu. The ceremony was hosted by the Hellenic Olympic Committee President, IOC Member Spyros Capralos. Also present was the Mayor of Olympia, Georgios Georgiopoulos.
Speaking at the ceremony (full speech here), President Bach made it clear that the Olympic Games have always stood above conflict: “In our fragile world, where division, conflict and mistrust are on the rise, the Olympic Games always build bridges. They never erect walls. […] This peace mission, handed down to us since ancient times, requires that the Olympic Games be respected as politically neutral ground. Only this political neutrality ensures that the Olympic Games can stand above and beyond the political differences that existed in ancient times, as well as today.” Peace and solidarity were an important theme throughout President Bach’s speech. He concluded by saying: “The Olympic Games cannot address all the challenges in our world. But the Olympic Games set an example for a world where everyone respects the same rules and one another. They inspire us to solve problems in friendship and solidarity. They build bridges leading to better understanding and friendship among people. This is the timeless message that this Olympic flame will send from our spiritual home here in Ancient Olympia, to Beijing, and to the world.” Full news release here.
Prior to this, on 16 October, the President had chaired an IOC EB meeting held both in person, in Athens, and remotely via videoconference, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The IOC EB made decisions relating to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and received updates on the preparations. These focused on the positive feedback from IFs and athletes about the ongoing test events involving international athletes that are taking place in the Beijing 2022 competition venues. Full release here.
The EB approved the Qualification System Principles (QSP) for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, outlining the rules for all the qualification systems that will now be established by the IFs for these Games. Full news release here.
In addition, the EB endorsed the Olympism 365 strategy. It aims to strengthen the role of sport as an important enabler for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations (UN) and to connect people with the Olympic values everywhere, every day. Olympism 365 will be the engine behind Recommendation 10 of Olympic Agenda 2020+5, which commits to the strengthening of the role of sport as an important enabler for the UN SDGs. Full news release here.
The EB also approved a list of 17 athletes (a record number for the Olympic Winter Games) who have submitted their candidatures for the IOC Athletes’ Commission election that will take place at the upcoming Games in Beijing. Ten female and seven male athletes from 17 NOCs, representing six sports and all five continents, will compete for the two vacant seats on the Commission. Full news release here.
Furthermore, the EB took note of the International Association Football Federation (FIFA)’s plans to change the football competition schedule and to hold the World Cup every two years. A number of IFs of other sports, national football federations, clubs, players, players associations and coaches have expressed strong reservations and concerns regarding the plans to generate more revenue for FIFA. The IOC shares these concerns and supports the calls of stakeholders of football, International Sports Federations and major event organisers for a wider consultation, including with athletes’ representatives, which has obviously not taken place. Full news release here.
The day following the meeting, the 100th anniversary of the IOC EB was celebrated in Olympia. With the President of the Hellenic Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, in attendance, the IOC EB assembled for a ceremony at the Coubertin Grove, the place where the heart of the IOC’s founder, Pierre de Coubertin, is buried in Ancient Olympia. In his speech, the IOC President said that “the creation of the IOC EB is one of Coubertin’s legacies” before recalling that all EB members are “only temporary trustees of the great heritage. As our predecessors have done before us, let us ensure that we continue to carry this responsibility with dignity so that we can pass on this wonderful Olympic legacy to the next generations of Olympic leaders.” Following his speech, the IOC President and the President of the Hellenic Republic each planted an olive tree next to the Coubertin Grove. To close the ceremony, the IOC President and the IOC Vice-Presidents laid a wreath in memory of Pierre de Coubertin. Full news release here.
On the eve of the Olympic flame-lighting for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, the Mayors of Ancient Olympia, Ilida and Sparta gathered in Olympia to sign a declaration of the Olympic Truce, highlighting once again the role of the Olympic Games as a symbol of peace and unity. The declaration was co-signed by President Bach and President of the Hellenic Republic Sakellaropoulou, as well as other prominent personalities and organisations. Full news release here.
Also in Ancient Olympia, the International Olympic Academy (IOA) was officially reopened after a two-year renovation. The revamped facilities of the interdisciplinary centre for Olympic education and studies were inaugurated during a ceremony attended by the IOC President and the President of the Hellenic Republic. During the inauguration, President Bach awarded the IOC President's Trophy to the IOA and its President Isidoros Kouvelos. The modernisation work was made possible by a EUR 12.5 million investment from the IOC. Read the IOC President’s speech here. Full news release here.
In Olympia, President Bach and Vice-President Yu discussed the preparations for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and various other topical Olympic matters.
Also in Olympia, the President met the newly elected members of the Hellenic Olympic Committee. They spoke about the next editions of the Olympic Games and various Olympic subjects.
While in Athens, President Bach also met former Greek President Prokópis Pavlópoulos.
This week, President Bach also held a telephone conversation with the President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Abdulla Shahid. He thanked and congratulated the IOC President on the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and together they discussed the upcoming United Nations Truce Resolution for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. They discussed the areas of collaboration between the two organisations and agreed on a closer cooperation with regard to the protection of women and girls, in cooperation with UN Women.
The President held a visio call with the co-founder of Worldwide Olympic Partner Airbnb, Joe Gebbia. He thanked the IOC President for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, adding that the world needed Olympic Games more than ever. They discussed the great partnership between Airbnb and the IOC, and President Bach thanked him for their important contribution to the Olympic Refuge Foundation.
The third Coordination Commission meeting for the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026 was held virtually on 15 October to take stock of the progress on the first sports development initiatives in Senegal. During the Coordination Commission meeting, chaired by IOC Member Kirsty Coventry, the Dakar 2026 teams delivered a status update on the renovation and construction work being carried out. Full news release here.
National Olympic Committees
The seventh edition of the GOLD course, the academic programme supported by the Colombian NOC, concluded on 21 October in Cali. Forty-five participants received diplomas for completing the course, which covered, among other things, sports organisation management. In his speech, the course director, Guillermo González, hailed the work that had gone into making this first virtual edition of the course a success. More details here.
The Czech Fair Play Club, which is part of the Czech NOC, bestowed its Lifetime Achievement Award for 2020 on football coach Dušan Uhrin. The Czech Fair Play Club also gave a special award to hammer thrower Kateřina Šafránková, who started sewing face masks immediately after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic last year. Actor and athlete Alfred Strejček received an award for the promotion of fair play. Diplomas for saving lives were given to football player Ondřej Soběslav, who massaged the heart of a referee who had collapsed for 15 minutes, and to four young sprint canoeists. They saved the life of their 16-year-old friend who collapsed during the last training session prior to the National Championship. A total of eight awards were given in 2020, and ice-hockey legend Jaromír Jágr received a thank-you letter for fair play. More info here.
Initiated by the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, the Ministry of Health and the Lithuanian NOC (LNOC), the Olympic Month project for primary school pupils – which is in its fourth year – started on 4 October. Over the course of four weeks, pupils will get acquainted with four topics: physical activity, healthy eating habits, emotional health and cooperation. More than 30,000 children engaged in exercise throughout the first week, accompanied by several athletes. The project will engage children in activities during both classes and breaks, as well as at home with their parents. This year, 1,900 classes from all over Lithuania are taking part in the project. More info here. In addition, from 4 to 6 October, a training course for advanced learners of the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) brought together 19 educators, who further enhanced their knowledge of Olympic education through a series of engaging practice-based activities. In the last three years, over 30 training sessions for teachers have been held in 10 cities in Lithuania, where over 1,200 educators have been trained to implement the OVEP. More info here. Furthermore, the Best Lithuanian Physical Education Teachers Awards were presented during a ceremony held at the Presidential Palace. The 10 winners were congratulated by First Lady Diana Nausėdienė, the Minister of Education, Science and Sport, Jurgita Šiugždinienė, and LNOC President and IOC Member Daina Gudzinevičiūtė. More info here.
Abdellatif Idmahamma (see photo), the Secretary General of the Moroccan NOC, was elected to the Executive Committee of the International Committee of the Mediterranean Games (ICMG) at the recent remote ICMG General Assembly. More info here. In addition, on 14 October, the NOC’s communication operations team took part in the second webinar organised by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) on accelerating NOCs’ digital programmes.
The Venezuelan NOC was involved in the donation of 10 surfboards to the Jhonaikel Bolívar Foundation in the state of La Guaira. The NOC helped to transport the sports equipment into the country. The equipment was provided by Olas del Alma, a non-profit organisation based in Argentina that supports children and teenagers in vulnerable situations. In addition, a new waste-collection event recently took place in Mare Abajo, La Playita de Catia La Mar.
Organising Committees for the Olympic Games
Twenty-four hours after its lighting in Ancient Olympia , the Olympic flame for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 was handed over by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) to the organisers of the next Games, during a ceremony in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. The ceremony was attended by IOC Vice-Presidents Ser Miang Ng and Nicole Hoevertsz; the IOC’s Beijing 2022 Coordination Commission Chair, Juan Antonio Samaranch; and IOC Honorary Member Sam Ramsamy. The Chinese delegation was led by IOC Vice-President, Special Representative and Vice-President of Beijing 2022 and Vice-President of the Chinese Olympic Committee Zaiqing Yu. The ceremony was hosted by HOC President and IOC Member Spyros Capralos. Full news release here. The following day, on 20 October, the Olympic flame arrived in China, making Beijing the first city ever to welcome the flame for both the summer and winter editions of the Olympic Games. The Olympic flame arrived at Beijing Capital Airport in a safety lantern, inspired by an ancient Chinese lamp called “Changxin”, signifying light and hope. Following a brief ceremony at the airport, the flame was then transported to Beijing Olympic Tower for an official welcoming ceremony. Full news release here.
The Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024 has announced that Sodexo has become an Official Supporter of Paris 2024 – as has its subsidiary Sodexo Live!, which will provide catering at the Olympic Village. For a five-week period, Sodexo Live! will serve 40,000 daily meals for 14,850 athletes from 206 Olympic delegations and 182 Paralympic delegations. Full news release here.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has published the Agency’s “live” webinar schedule for November 2021, which includes various webinars on scientific topics such as the 2022 List of Prohibited Substances and Methods (Prohibited List), dried blood spot testing and the Agency’s 2022 Social Science Research Grant Programme, as well as a webinar for athletes on testing. Full calendar here.