On 31 January, IOC President Thomas Bach arrived in Sochi (Russian Federation), which will host the XXII Olympic Winter Games from 7 to 23 February. He was greeted by IOC Member and President of the Russian Olympic Committee Alexander Zhukov and President of Sochi 2014 Organising Committee Dmitry Chernyshenko.
The following day, President Bach went to the Coastal Olympic Village, known as “Usadba”, to check-in to his room, before having lunch in the Village Dining Hall among the athletes.
On the same day, President Bach met with the Russian Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Kozak; Sochi 2014 President Dmitry Chernyshenko; and Chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission for these Games, IOC Member Jean-Claude Killy. He also met with IOC Athletes’ Commission Chair and IOC Member Claudia Bokel.
In the coming days, the President will chair the IOC Executive Board meeting on 2 and 3 February, then the 126th IOC Session from 5 to 7 February. A report on these Olympic meetings will appear in the next Olympic Highlights.
Before heading to Sochi, President Bach signed an MoU with INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble in Lausanne. Through this MoU, the IOC is thus strengthening the measures taken to defend sport’s integrity. For President Bach, who made protecting clean athletes one of the priorities of his mandate, “INTERPOL has the ability and the necessary instruments to instigate cross-border investigations, coordinate different law enforcement bodies, and gather intelligence. In our determined fight to protect the integrity of sport on behalf of clean athletes, INTERPOL’s involvement is absolutely crucial.” In parallel to this MoU, the IOC’s new Integrity Betting Intelligence System (IBIS) is now fully operational in time for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. This system collates alerts and information on manipulation through sports betting.
This week, while he was in Frankfurt (Germany), the President met IOC Member and President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Philip Craven.
international sportS FEdErations
At its first meeting of 2014, on 1 and 2 February in Barcelona (Spain), the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Central Board will decide to whom it will grant four wild cards for the 2014 Basketball World Cup in Spain. This competition will see 24 teams compete from 30 August to 14 September in several Spanish cities. A draw to decide on the four preliminary round groups will take place on 3 February. Info at www.fiba.com.
Over 35,000 handball fans worldwide recently voted for the 2013 Best Handball Players of the Year. The winners are Serbia’s Andrea Lekic and Croatia’s Domagoj Duvnjak. It was prior to the European Championship final in Herning (Denmark) on 26 January that International Handball Federation (IHF) President Hassan Moustafa revealed the names before presenting the winners with a trophy. Info at www.ihf.info.
From 22 to 28 January in Lausanne, the International Swimming Federation (FINA) organised a series of meetings if its committees: Athletes’, Coaches, Media, Finance and Ethics. After their appointment last July in Barcelona, this was an opportunity to refine all the committees’ action plans for 2013-17. Many members also took the opportunity to visit The Olympic Museum. Info at www.fina.org.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced the appointment of Steve Ayles as Executive Commercial Consultant for Asia-Pacific. Ayles was Commercial Director of for Tennis Australia, as well as CEO of Tennis Queensland and tournament director for combined ATP/WTA events. Info at www.itftennis.com.
The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) has informed us that the first four boys and four girls have qualified for the Summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing via the Road to Nanjing Finals, which were held in Vila Nova de Gaia (Portugal). In total 32 boys and 32 girls will compete in three events (boys singles, girls singles and mixed teams) from 17 to 23 August 2014 at the YOG in Nanjing. Info at www.ittf.com.
International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) Secretary General Franz Schreiber has visited the Organising Committee for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio (Rio 2016) with a joint ISSF and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) delegation. The agenda of this visit, from 15 to 18 January, included meetings with key members of the Rio 2016 Sports Department, discussions on the competition programme, ticketing, transport, entries, accommodation, etc., as well as a visit to the National Shooting Centre and facilities that will be used for the 2016 Games. The Secretary General said he was confident that “the Organising Committee will work in the best way to deliver an excellent Olympic experience to our athletes and shooting fans during the 2016 Games”. Info at www.issf-sports.org.
International Triathlon Union (ITU) President and IOC member Marisol Casado, accompanied by ITU Executive Committee member Ahmed Nasser and ITU Sports Development Manager Zita Csovelyak, recently visited the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka (Zambia). The ITU delegation also met Zambian NOC President Miriam Moyo, as well as the Zambian Sports Council in order to explore the possibility of launching a national triathlon federation, which would allow for triathlon to be added to the sports practised at the Centre. Info at www.triathlon.org.
The World Curling Federation (WCF) has announced that Lohja (Finland) will host the 2015 World Wheelchair Curling Championship. The event will be held at the Kisakallio Sports Institute from 7 to 14 February. The next major wheelchair curling competition will be at the Paralympic Winter Games in Sochi from 7 to 16 March 2014. Info at www.worldcurling.org.
The International Ski Federation (FIS) has learned of the death of Olympian Franz Gabl, on 23 January aged 93. Born in Anton am Arlberg (Austria), Gabl was the first Austrian to win an Alpine skiing Olympic medal – a silver in the downhill at the Games in St Moritz in 1948. After quitting the ski slopes, Gabl coached the Canadian women’s Olympic ski team for the 1952 Games, then the men’s team four years later. Info at www.fis-ski.com.
The International Surfing Association (ISA) has informed us that Poland has become its 79th member nation. Info at www.isasurf.org.
NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEES
The Belgian NOC (COIB) has informed us that, from 1 January 2014, the new CEO, Philippe Vander Putten has officially taken over management of the COIB. Guido De Bondt, its Secretary General since 1992, will step down at the end of March 2014. Info at www.olympic.be.
The Hellenic Olympic Academy (HOA) has received the IOC’s Sport and Environment Diploma in recognition of its outstanding environmental actions developed through sport. The diploma was presented at the Hellenic NOC headquarters to HOA President Isidoros Kouvelos, by former Sports Minister Fanny Palli-Petralia. It is the second time that the Academy has taken part in the IOC Sport and Environment Contest. In 2011, the HOA’s educational programme received international recognition, ranking among the six best educational programmes in the world that combine sport with the environment. Info at www.hoc.gr.
The Peruvian NOC’s Technical Committee in charge of methodology has held its first working meeting with national sports federation representatives. The Committee’s aim is to strengthen various aspects of the organisation to increase the general level of professionalism, especially with a view to organising the Pan-American Games in Lima in 2019. The NOC also took this opportunity to present its programme of activities for 2014. Info at www.coperu.org.
The Serbian NOC has just informed us that the 2013 IOC Trophy “150th anniversary of Pierre de Coubertin, sport as a school of life” was awarded to 19-year-old basketballer Natasa Kovacevic at a ceremony organised on 23 December 2013. She received the Trophy from Serbian NOC President Vlade Divac, before 400 guests including the Prime Minister, the Minister for Youth and Sport and Olympic athletes. Amputated below the knee after a serious coach accident, Natasa has been able to walk again thanks to an orthopaedic prosthesis, but also and especially daily exercises and incredible willpower. She hopes to soon be able to play basketball again. Natasa has become a real source of inspiration, and her example shows how much sport can be a school and philosophy of life. Info at www.oks.org.rs.
ORGANISING COMMITTEES FOR THE OLYMPIC GAMES
On 30 January, the three Olympic Villages that will house the athletes competing in the Winter Games opened their doors. In the host city, the Coastal Olympic Village – “Usadba” – will accommodate those athletes competing in events held within the Olympic Park, such as curling, ice hockey, figure skating, short track and speed skating. Named “Derevnya” by organisers, the Mountain Village is the largest of the three villages and will accommodate nearly 3,000 people during the Games. The Endurance Village, which is located on the Psekhako Ridge, is within walking distance of the Laura Cross Country Ski and Biathlon Centre. Info at www.sochi2014.com.
On 29 January, the President of the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations launched an appeal to observe the Olympic Truce in which he solemnly appealed “to all Member States to demonstrate their commitment to the Olympic Truce for the 2014 Sochi Olympic and Paralympic Games, and to undertake concrete actions at the local, national, regional and world levels to promote and strengthen a culture of peace and harmony based on the spirit of the Truce. Referring to the original tradition of the Olympic Truce practised in ancient times, as described in resolution 68/9, I also call upon all warring parties of current armed conflicts around the world to boldly agree to true mutual ceasefires for the duration of the Olympic Truce, thus providing an opportunity to settle disputes peacefully.”
Less than five months after Tokyo’s election as the host city of the 2020 Olympic Games, the Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 in Tokyo (Tokyo 2020) has been formally established. The Committee will be responsible for ensuring the successful organisation of the Games, and its establishment marks another major step on Tokyo’s Olympic journey. As well as the creation of the Committee, it was also announced that former Prime Minister of Japan, Yoshiro Mori, had been appointed as President and Toshiro Muto as Chief Executive Officer, appointments that were praised by President Bach, who said: “As a former Prime Minister of Japan, sports administrator, avid sports fan, and member of the Tokyo 2020 bid team, Mr Mori's experience will allow him to make an immediate impact on preparations for the 2020 Games and provide proper guidance to the newly formed team in Tokyo.” Info at www.tokyo2020.jp/fr.
ORGANISING COMMITTEES FOR THE YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES
This week, the IOC announced a list of over 100 inspiring young people who will serve as Young Ambassadors for the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG), which will be held from 16 to 28 August. The eclectic list features active athletes, including Olympians and YOG alumni, sports coaches, students and young professionals, all aged between 18 and 25 and nominated by their NOCs.
The International Paralympic Committee has just published the Qualifications Guide for 18 of the 22 sports that will be on the programme of the Paralympic Games in Rio from 7 to 18 September 2016. This Guide has been publicised via a new microsite devoted to these Games (www.paralympic.org/rio-2016). Almost 4,350 athletes from over 160 countries are expected to compete in Rio. Info at www.paralympic.org.