- 11 Feb 2014
- IOC News
Highlights of the week
A few days before the Opening Ceremony of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, IOC President Thomas Bach chaired a meeting of the Executive Board (EB), followed by the 126th IOC Session.
At its meeting on 2 and 3 February, the EB received a detailed update on the final preparations for the Games in Sochi from the Organising Committee President and CEO, Dmitry Chernyshenko, who also outlined the progress that Sochi has made since its election seven years ago.
The EB members also heard reports from the Chairs of the IOC Coordination Commissions for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016 and in PyeongChang in 2018, as well as from the IOC administration and Olympic Movement stakeholders.
The following day, after a joint meeting, the members of the EB and of the IOC Athletes’ Commission visited the Sochi 2014 Coastal Olympic Village, before participating in the inauguration of the Olympic Truce Wall. The IOC delegation, which included IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge, Vice-Presidents Nawal El Moutawakel, Craig Reedie and John Coates, and Athletes’ Commission Chair Claudia Bokel, signed the wall before having lunch with the Olympians in the Olympic Village restaurant.
On the evening of 4 February, the 126th IOC Session was officially opened at a ceremony held at the Zimny Theatre in Sochi and attended by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, Russian NOC President and IOC member Alexander Zhukov, and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak. In his speech, President Bach, himself a former Olympic champion, said: “As we enjoy Russia's rich heritage and culture, the world's best winter athletes are gathering in the Olympic Villages”, before adding: “Just three days away from the opening of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, we can tell the athletes: the stage, your Olympic stage, is ready.” Before the ceremony, the IOC members were personally welcomed by President Putin at a reception in the Rus Hotel.
The highlight of the 126th Session was the speech by the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in which he praised the joint efforts of the UN and IOC to use sport as a tool for social change, describing the two organisations as team-mates. It was the first time a UN Secretary-General had attended an IOC Session. After visiting the Coastal Olympic Village, where he signed the Olympic Truce Wall, the Secretary-General participated in the Olympic Torch Relay in Sochi, receiving the flame directly from President Bach.
Discussions at the 126th Session mainly focused on the Olympic Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement initiated by President Bach last year. A total of more than 200 speeches were made by the IOC members on the following five themes: the uniqueness of the Olympic Games, athletes at the heart of the Olympic Movement, Olympism in action, the IOC’s role and IOC structure and organisation. Working groups will now be set up to transform the ideas and discussions into recommendations, which will be presented at an Extraordinary Session in Monaco in December.
The 126th Session elected Zaiqing Yu as IOC Vice-President and Ugur Erdener as an Executive Board member. It also elected Poul-Erik Høyer, Olympic badminton champion and President of the Badminton World Federation (BWF), as an IOC member. Meanwhile, Beatrice Allen, Nicole Hoevertsz and HRH Prince Tunku Imran were re-elected as IOC members by the Session.
On the eve of the Sochi 2014 Opening Ceremony, the inaugural IOC President’s Dinner was held. On this occasion, President Bach welcomed 12 heads of state, four heads of government and representatives of the worlds of business, media, science, culture and sport. The heads of state, government and international organisations included President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping, Prime Ministers Plamen Oresharski of Bulgaria, Najib Mikati of Lebanon, Algirdas Butkevičius of Lithuania and Abdelilah Benkirane of Morocco. Gymnast Larissa Latynina and legendary ice hockey goalkeeper Vladimir Tretiak were among the greatest Olympians present. Business representatives at the dinner included Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent, Panasonic CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga, McDonalds CEO Donald Thompson, Omega CEO Stephen Urquhart, and the heads of Comcast/NBC and Russian television broadcasters Channel One, VGTRK and NTV. The first woman in space, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, soprano Anna Netrebko and violinist-turned-Alpine skier Vanessa Mae were also welcomed by President Bach.
In his welcome speech, the IOC President said: “The purpose of this dinner is to show that the IOC is reaching out to society at large and is looking forward to an open dialogue with the worlds of politics, business, the media, science and culture. We want to share with you the Olympic spirit and the Olympic values [… ] just as the athletes are doing at this very moment in the Olympic Village next door. Even though they are competitors, they are sharing a meal and enjoying being together in the Olympic community.”
At 20.14 (local time) on 7 February, the Opening Ceremony of the XXII Olympic Winter Games took place in the Fisht Olympic Stadium, combining a glowing tribute to Olympism with a spectacular celebration of Russian history and culture. “Tonight, we are writing a new page in Olympic history,” said President Bach in his speech, before continuing: “Olympic Games are always about building bridges to bring people together. Olympic Games are never about erecting walls to keep people apart. Olympic Games are a sports festival embracing human diversity in great unity”. Addressing the athletes, the IOC President said: “Russia and the Russians have set the stage for you, the best winter athletes on the planet. From this moment on, you are not only the best athletes, you are Olympic athletes. You will inspire us with your outstanding sports performances”. Russian President Vladimir Putin then officially declared the Games open.
Reports and photos from the Olympic meetings, various events and Games Opening Ceremony can be found on olympic.org, Facebook and Twitter.
Meeting in Sochi, the IOC Athletes’ Commission re-elected Claudia Bokel as its Chair. As such, Claudia Bokel, a former fencer and silver medallist (team) at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, will also remain a member of the IOC Executive Board. Meanwhile, Angela Ruggiero was elected Vice-Chair of the Athletes’ Commission. An Olympic ice hockey champion, she has played more games for Team USA than any other man or woman. Furthermore, all athletes participating in the Games in Sochi will be able to vote for two of their peers as representatives on the IOC Athletes’ Commission. The two elected athletes will replace Rebecca Scott and Saku Koivu, whose eight-year mandates are coming to an end.
Arne Ljungqvist, Chairman of the IOC Medical Commission, received the 2014 Humanitarian Award of Global Sports Development (GSD) on behalf of his PALJF Foundation (Professor Arne Ljungqvist Anti-Doping Foundation). The prize was presented to him in Sochi on 8 February by GSD Executive Board members David Ulich and Steve Ungerleider. The IOC was represented at the ceremony by its new EB member Ugur Erdener and Vice-Presidents Nawal El Moutawakel and Craig Reedie, who is also President of the World Anti-Doping Agency.
On 6 February in Sochi, the IOC announced that it had reached an agreement with Panasonic to extend its Worldwide TOP Partnership until 2024, making Panasonic the first TOP Partner to sign until 2024. President Bach said: “We are thrilled to be able to announce that we will continue to work with our long-term Partner Panasonic. Panasonic was one of the founding members of our global sponsorship programme, and is the first Partner to commit to continue its global sponsorship through 2024. This is a clear demonstration of Panasonic’s continuing belief in the Olympic values and the company’s global commitment to the Olympic Movement.”
On 8 February, the IOC announced that it had reached an agreement with Atos to extend its Worldwide TOP Partnership until 2020. Atos has been a key technology provider for the Olympic Movement since 1989, when the company provided services to the Barcelona 1992 Organising Committee. Atos became the Olympic Movement’s Worldwide Information Technology Partner in 2001. President Bach said: “Technology is critical to the success of each edition of the Olympic Games. We are delighted that we will be able to continue relying on Atos and its vast experience to deliver flawless, innovative IT services.”
The IOC has awarded broadcast rights in South Africa for the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014 in Sochi, the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, and the II Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2014 in Nanjing to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).
INTERNATIONAL SPORTS FEDERATIONS
The International Rowing Federation (FISA) has opened the nomination process for the 2014 Thomas Keller Medal. The highest distinction in the sport of rowing will be presented on 12 July 2014 at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne (Switzerland). Nominations must be submitted by 21 February. Info at www.worldrowing.com
The Central Board of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) concluded its first meeting of 2014 in Barcelona (Spain) last weekend. Among its decisions, the Central Board awarded the four wild cards for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain to Brazil, Finland, Greece and Turkey, and called an Extraordinary Congress to be held in Istanbul (Turkey) on 15 and 16 March 2014, when the new FIBA General Statutes should be adopted. The 2014 World Cup mascots, Ole and Hop, were also unveiled. Info at www.fiba.com
The International Judo Federation (IJF) has announced that more than 600 judokas from 83 countries will be competing at the Paris Grand Slam as part of the IJF World Judo Tour 2014 on 8 and 9 February. Info at www.ijf.org
On 1 and 2 February, a delegation of the International Swimming Federation (FINA), led by its Executive Director, Cornel Marculescu, was in Kazan (Russian Federation) to discuss preparations for the 16th FINA World Championships, to be held in the capital of Tatarstan from 24 July to 9 August 2015. The meeting agenda included all aspects of the organisation of this important FINA event (schedule, venues, accommodation, transport, ceremonies, marketing, media, ticketing, etc.). Info at www.fina.org
The World Archery Federation (WA) has created a World Plan Ad Hoc Commission to help implement the Plan in its member associations. The commission is composed of Vicente Martinez Orga, Peter Chiu and Sergio Font. Lars Haue-Pedersen of TSE Consulting and Tom Dielen, WA Secretary General, will be ex officio members. Info at www.worldarchery.org
The International Triathlon Union (ITU) this week announced the qualification system for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The road to the Games will officially begin at the World Triathlon in Yokohama (Japan) on 15 May 2014 and end on 15 May 2016. A total of 55 men and 55 women will be selected for the Games in Rio. Info at www.triathlon.org
The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) informs us that four training camps will be held during February and March 2014 in different regions of Argentina. These camps are aimed at helping promising young female athletes to prepare for the forthcoming South American Championship in July. Info at www.fivb.org
NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEES
The Albanian NOC recently held a seminar in Tirana on the theme of good governance in sport. Organised with the financial support of the European Olympic Committees (EOC), the seminar was run in close cooperation with the European Non-Governmental Sports Organisation (ENGSO) and the EOC’s European office. Around 70 representatives of NOCs, national sports federations and sports clubs took part. The speakers included the Minister of Education and Sport, Lindita Nikolla, Albanian NOC President Viron Bezhani and ENGSO President Birgitta Kervinen, who met, among others, the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama. Info at www.nocalbania.org
On 5 February, the Executive Board of the Colombian NOC elected Armando Farfán Peña, former president of the Colombian Motorcycling Federation, as its director. At the same meeting, the Executive Board also approved the composition of the Colombian delegation for the South American Games in Santiago in 2014 and appointed an NOC commission to work with the Colombian Department of Sport, Coldeportes, to reform national sport law. Info at www.coc.org.co
At the end of January, the President of the Portuguese NOC, José Manuel Constantino, presented the IOC Sport and Environment diploma to the mayors of the cities of Amadora and Oeiras, and to representatives of the company SIMAS. For several years, this company has been developing projects aimed at raising public awareness, particularly among young people, of the importance of the environment and of water conservation. Info at www.comiteolimpicoportugal.pt
More than 600 young Venezuelan coaches, referees and athletes were able to enhance their knowledge of poomsae (codified sequences consisting of all fundamental taekwondo techniques) at a seminar held in Guanta. This seminar, part of the Olympic Solidarity programme, was organised through the “Taekwondo Peace Corps” programme thanks to cooperation between the Venezuelan NOC, the South Korean embassy in Venezuela, the national taekwondo federation and the Anzoátegui association.
ORGANISING COMMITTEES OF THE YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES
This week, the IOC announced the names of the 31 young people who will participate in the Young Reporters Programme for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing, to be held from 16 to 28 August. Following the success of the first programme launched at the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games, young reporters were again selected by the continental associations of NOCs at the end of a rigorous selection process. Representing each of the five continents, they are between the ages of 18 and 24 and are journalism students or have recently started their careers as journalists.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) will organise a conference in Berlin (Germany) from 3 to 5 October to mark its 25th anniversary. Meanwhile, the IPC recently launched websites for the National Paralympic Committees of Ecuador, Indonesia and Tunisia. Info at www.paralympic.org
On the occasion of the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) launched a message to Olympians, coaches, athletes and sports fans. You can read the message here.
The International Academy of Sports Science and Technology (AISTS) has updated its Sustainable Sport and Events Toolkit (SSET), a joint initiative developed with the Organising Committee of the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. The toolkit contains comprehensive information about sport sustainability best practices. The IOC is the toolkit’s principal supporting partner. Info at www.aists.org
NB. “Olympic Highlights” will be taking a break during the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. Information will continue to be published on olympic.org, Twitter and Facebook. The next edition of “Olympic Highlights” will be published on 28 February 2014.