Olympic Highlights 31/05/2021

31 May 2021

IOC activities


President Thomas Bach took part in the 10th edition of the International Athletes’ Forum held for the first time in a virtual format. He joined the Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and IOC Executive Board member, Kirsty Coventry. At the opening, he told the athlete representatives, “we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. But instead of looking to the past, you should look into the future.” The President also took part in a dedicated Q&A ‘live’ session with the athletes on the second day of the Forum. (See also under ‘Commissions’).

President Bach and Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko spoke about the latest situation with regard to the preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. They both reaffirmed their joint commitment to delivering safe and secure Games.

President Bach and IOC Executive Board member Nenad Lalović, who is also the President of United World Wrestling (UWW), discussed various Olympic topics and the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Mr Lalović, who leads the IOC Monitoring Committee into AIBA, also discussed the progress of boxing preparations for Tokyo 2020.

In a video conference, President Bach and the President of the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, IOC Member Tony Estanguet, discussed the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the state of preparations for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.

IOC / Greg Martin

At Olympic House, the IOC President and the President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), Francesco Ricci-Bitti, discussed the safe delivery of the Olympic Virtual Series, the European Sports Model and other issues of mutual interest for the IOC and ASOIF.

President Bach held a telephone conversation with the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, who is the current Chair of the IOC Ethics Commission. They discussed a number of Olympic topics together.


At the Annual General Meeting of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), held virtually on 22 May, IOC Members Poul-Erik Høyer and Khunying Patama Leeswadtrakul were re-elected as BWF President and BWF Deputy President respectively for 2021 to 2025, while their IOC colleague Odette Assembe Engoulou was elected as a BWF Council member. More info here.


IOC Member Mustafa Berraf was re-elected as President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) at the association’s General Assembly in Cairo (Egypt), held on 24 and 25 May. This will be his second term of office. During the same Assembly, his IOC colleague Matlohan Moiloa-Ramoqopo was elected as an ANOCA Vice-President. More info here.


IOC Member Narinder Dhruv Batra was re-elected as President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), for a second four-year term, during the FIH Congress held virtually on 22 May. More info here.


Nearly 2,000 athletes’ commission members registered to participate virtually in the 10th International Athletes’ Forum, the largest-ever athlete representative event, organised by the IOC Athletes’ Commission and which ran from 26 to 27 May. Athletes’ commission members from 199 NOCs, all summer and winter Olympic sports federations, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), all Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs) and NOC Continental Associations, as well as representatives from the World Olympians Association (WOA) and members of various National Olympians Associations, attended the virtual event. Athlete well-being and support were the key focus on day one, with contributions on the themes of mental health and safeguarding. Updates and discussions on the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 were the highlights of the second day. Many athletes shared their excitement about and confidence in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Reflecting the successful delivery of the test events held in the past few months, athletes also expressed their commitment to respecting the measures outlined in the Playbooks in order to deliver safe Olympic Games for all participants and all the Japanese people. Read the full news release here.

Other Olympic news

Six NOCs have pledged to the IOC and Tokyo 2020 that their delegations will arrive in Japan for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 fully vaccinated. These pledges came from the NOCs of Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka all of which are currently on the list of countries and regions subject to the strongest entry restrictions for Japan. All of these NOCs have also confirmed to the IOC and Tokyo 2020 that they will conduct additional testing of their delegation members prior to departure, over and above the requirements of the Playbooks. This commitment is very warmly welcomed by the IOC, as it represents yet another commitment and a strong signal from stakeholders within the Olympic community that everyone is doing their utmost to ensure the Games will be safe for everyone participating and for the Japanese people. Read the full news release here.

During the European Union (EU)-Japan Summit 2021 held on 27 May via videoconference, both countries stated their support for the holding of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner from 23 July this summer. “We have, of course, said we are looking forward to the Olympic Games,” said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who represented the EU alongside the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. “The signal from the European Union that more than 100 million doses of vaccines have been authorised to be exported to Japan is also a strong sign that we support any preparation for the Olympic Games and the safety of these Games.” Japan was represented by Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, and in the joint statement released after the summit both parties said: “We support the holding of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner this summer as a symbol of global unity in defeating COVID-19.” Meanwhile, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu also confirmed the commitment to the international community to make public health a central priority to hold safe and secure Games, and to keep communicating as plans develop. The commitment was mentioned the previous day by United States White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, acknowledging “the careful consideration that the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee are weighing as they prepare for the Tokyo Olympics. She also stated that US President Joe Biden proudly supports the US athletes who will be competing at Tokyo 2020. Read the full news release here.

A new IOC Olympic Channel original series – co-created with Worldwide Olympic Partner Toyota – is sharing the inspiring personal stories of five athletes who are set to feature in some of the new sports that are debuting at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. The five-episode Unleash the New web series is now available on olympics.com, as well as YouTube Facebook, Instagram TV and Snapchat. Read the full news release here.

International Federations

Summer IFs

The International Football Association Federation (FIFA) has published its first-ever comprehensive analysis of the elite women’s football landscape around the world.  The information comes from a survey completed by a selection of 30 of the top-tier women’s football leagues from around the world and 282 of their respective clubs on sporting, governance, finance, fan engagement and player-related topics. The report aims to help guide key decisions shaping the future development and professionalisation of women’s football. Full details here.

From 27 to 30 May, Canada is hosting virtually the first leg of the 2021 edition of the FINA (International Swimming Federation) Diving Grand Prix. Four locations at a time will be able to remotely join the competition and screens will be displayed simultaneously, as divers from Canada, Great Britain and Slovenia will perform from the comfort of their home pool. The competition will be live streamed on fina.org, free of charge. More info here.

Ahead of Roland Garros, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has celebrated the 2019 ITF World Champions and 2020 ITF Philippe Chatrier Award winners in two recently released videos. The ITF was unable to present the trophies to the winners last year due to pandemic restrictions, and holding the annual ITF World Champions Awards Dinner in Paris will still not be possible in 2021. Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and Rafael Nadal of Spain are among the 11 players honoured in the virtual ITF World Champions Awards, while Manolo Santana of Spain and Fred Stolle of Australia have been presented with the ITF Philippe Chatrier Award – the ITF’s highest honour – in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the sport both on and off the court. Full details here.

national olympic committees

Albanian NOC

The President of the Albanian NOC, Fidel Ylli, was received recently by the Japanese Ambassador in Tirana, Takada Mitsuyuki, during an official visit to the Embassy residence (photo). They discussed the final preparations for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Also present at the meeting were Kliton Muca, NOC Project Manager, and Luna Methasani, Head of Marketing, Media and International Relations. More info at www.nocalbania.org.al.

On 26 May, the Belgian NOC (COIB) revealed its second selection of Team Belgium athletes for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. There are 9 athletes – 4 women and 5 men. Full details here. In addition, on 19 May, the COIB announced the death of Olympian Aimé Verhoeven, at the age of 85. He competed in the Olympic Games Rome 1960 in the Greco-Roman wrestling competition (57kg category).


Gill Whitehead (see photo) has been appointed as an Independent Non-Executive Director of the British Olympic Association (BOA), starting in September. As an RFU-qualified rugby coach and former England Students rugby league player, she brings a lifelong passion for sport along with a wealth of senior executive and leadership experience in the broadcast and digital media sector. She has previously worked for Google, Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide. More info here.

HOC/Péter Szalmás

The Hungarian Olympic Committee (HOC) recently hosted the Central & South–Eastern European NOCs Meeting. Sports leaders of 16 NOCs travelled to the Hungarian capital, Budapest, where they were welcomed by HOC President Krisztián Kulcsár. Organised despite the challenging times, the event was originally planned for last May. The topics on the agenda included the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the inoculation and qualification processes. A report was also delivered on the preparations for the 3rd European Games. In addition, on its website, the HOC presented the Tokyo 2020 apparel designed for the Hungarian athletes. More info here.


The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) has co-opted Forrest Li (see photo) as a member of its Executive Committee. Li is the Founder, Chairman and Group CEO of Sea Limited, a leading global consumer internet company founded and based in Singapore. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Singapore Economic Development Board and serves on the Board of Trustees for the National University of Singapore, and on the Advisory Council of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. More details here.

Spanish NOC

The General Assembly of the Spanish NOC was held in person on 26 May at the NOC’s headquarters. It was opened by the Minister for Culture and Sport, José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, and was attended by 60 delegates. In addition to presenting the NOC’s activities from the past year, Alejandro Blanco, the NOC President, highlighted the work being done in relation to COVID-19, such as the frequent meetings with sports representatives and the Ministry of Culture and Sport with a view to competitions returning, and the agreement between the Health, Defence and Culture and Sports Ministries regarding the vaccination of the athletes who will be taking part in the Olympic Games this summer. More details here.

Venezuelan NOC

The Venezuelan NOC received representatives from the Embassy of the Republic of Korea at its headquarters. Discussions focused on exchanges between the two countries in certain sports disciplines. The NOC proposed holding a workshop to this end in the near future. The Korean delegation also had the opportunity to visit the NOC’s Olympic Museum. More info here. In addition, six prominent figures from the world of sport – athletes, coaches and leaders – received the Oswaldo “Papelón” Borges distinction from the NOC. More info here.

Recognised organisations

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has introduced a virtual #ParalympicAlbum to engage its social media audience with the top Para athletes going for gold at the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. Each week until 31 July, fans will vote on social media on two athletes per sport. The athletes (female and male) with the most votes will be featured on the sticker album. Full info here.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced its Independent Observer (IO) teams for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020. WADA’s IO programme is intended to provide oversight and instil confidence in both athletes and the public as to the quality, effectiveness and reliability of anti-doping programmes during major events such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games and other international, multisport events. Full news release here.

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