IOC President Thomas Bach was in Bulgaria on Friday and Saturday to attend the FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships in Sofia and the FISA World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv.
During the visit, the President had meetings with Boyko Borissov and Krasen Kralev, respectively the Prime Minister and Minister of Youth and Sport of the Republic of Bulgaria. The President praised the country’s continuous efforts to support the development of sport and sporting facilities over the last few decades, while the Bulgarian officials announced their interest in hosting the Winter Youth Olympic Games 2024. The two leaders agreed to engage in discussions, together with the NOC of Bulgaria, starting during the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in October.
“Thanks to the creation of a special fund for youth and sport and with the valuable support of the IOC, we have successfully renovated our training centres and developed new sporting facilities all across the country,” said Prime Minister Borissov. “Welcoming athletes from all over the world for training and for prestigious competitions has made our investment meaningful,” he added.
“Our efforts to develop sporting infrastructures will continue,” said Youth and Sport Minister Kralev. “The role of sport in education is crucial,” he continued. “We have to work with families and teachers to help sport grow from the grassroots.”
With all the existing infrastructures and your organisational skills, you are in a great position to organise Winter Youth Olympic Games.Thomas Bach IOC President
President Bach said: “You can be proud of what you have undertaken and of your great progress in developing sport in your country. Now you are ready for the next step. With all the existing infrastructures and your organisational skills, you are in a great position to organise Winter Youth Olympic Games.”
President Bach was also received by the President of the Bulgarian Republic, Rumen Radev. During the meeting at the Presidential Palace, President Bach praised the excellent partnership between the IOC and Bulgaria and congratulated the Head of State for setting an Olympic record by hosting three world championships in Olympic sports in Bulgaria within a week (rowing, rhythmic gymnastics and men’s volleyball).
The two leaders also agreed on the important social role played by sport in today’s world.
President Radev said: “It is extremely important to be able to bring young people back to sport at school.” He stressed the need to build a sporting culture in the younger generation because “sport is a very successful tool for integration into society.”
President Bach said: “One of the IOC’s top priorities is to keep sport relevant for young people. In this context schools have an important role, and educators should recognise the important role sport plays for a good education. On the other hand, young athlete role models can inspire their generation. In that respect, Olympic events such as the Youth Olympic Games contribute greatly to the promotion of the values of sport.”
With regard to Bulgaria’s interest in hosting the Winter Youth Olympic Games 2024, President Bach expressed the appreciation of the IOC and its full confidence in Bulgaria’s potential to organise this event successfully. He then extended an invitation to President Radev for an official visit to the IOC in Lausanne.
Earlier the President attended the FISA World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, where he was welcomed by FISA President and IOC Member in France Jean-Christophe Rolland. He not only watched the competition, but also took the opportunity to have a discussion with a number of athlete representatives and to meet with national rowing federations. They addressed the place of rowing in the Olympic Games.
In Plovdiv, the President also met with IOC Member in Canada Tricia Smith, IOC Member in Switzerland and IOC Executive Board member Denis Oswald, and IOC Member in the Czech Republic Jiří Kejval.
On Friday, President Bach was greeted by International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) President Morinari Watanabe in Sofia for the Rhythmic Gymnastics World Championships. After watching the competitions, a meeting was held with around 80 competitors to discuss any matters of interest they wished to address.
President Bach was accompanied throughout his visit to Bulgaria by the President of the country’s National Olympic Committee, Olympic champion Stefka Kostadinova, whose high jump world record of 2.09 metres has stood since 1987.