Following his re-election, IOC President Thomas Bach’s first official visit was to Greece where the 137th IOC Session had been scheduled to take place before the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the headquarters of the Hellenic Olympic Committee on Monday 29 March, he inaugurated an exhibition before visiting the Olympic Museum. He was welcomed by the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and IOC member, Spyros Capralos, who accompanied him throughout the visit. He also met IOC honorary member Lambis Nikolaou. Read also here the HOC news release.
At Athens' City Hall, the Mayor, Costas Bakoyiannis, presented President Bach with the Athens City Medal. At the ceremony, he told him, "You are a visionary leader, always committed to your beliefs, who has tackled so many challenges."
That evening, the President inaugurated a new lighting system at the Panathenaic Stadium, where the first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in 1896. Switching on the new lights, President Bach used the words of Pierre de Coubertin: "Olympism calls for air and light for all." Read also here the HOC news release.
The following day, on Tuesday 30 March, President Bach met the Greek President, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, at the Presidential Palace, where they discussed the importance of sport as an important enabler for the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Later, President Bach met the Greek Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. They discussed the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and preparations for the Greek Olympic team.
During his visit, President Bach also met the former Greek Prime Minister and member of the International Olympic Truce Centre, George Papandreou, as well as the former Greek President, Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
IOC Member Paul Tergat, who was recently appointed as a member of the Olympic Refuge Foundation (ORF) Board, took part in the virtual inception workshop for the Harnessing the power of sports to prevent Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement and host community programme, organised by partner organisation the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on 30 March in Nairobi (Kenya). Jointly convened by UNFPA and the ORF, this programme harnesses the power of sport to reduce the vulnerability of young people to gender-based violence, helping them to thrive and belong. The programme is currently underway in the Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei refugee settlement in Turkana County, Kenya.
During the first meeting held between the IOC's Coordination Commission, chaired by IOC Member Hong Zhang, and Gangwon 2024, the Korean hosts of the 4th Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) announced their powerful vision, which will provide the foundation for all their activities for the years to come: "Gangwon 2024 – youth celebrating peaceful coexistence and unity through sport to create a better future together." This first Coordination Commission meeting, held virtually on 30 and 31 March, brought together representatives from the IOC and Gangwon 2024. The purpose was to discuss opportunities and challenges related to the project, and to find and co-create smart solutions by adapting to the local context. The ultimate aim is to organise efficient, impactful and transformative YOG – delivered for, by and with the youth. Full news release here.
Other olympic news
This week, the IOC took part in the first meeting of the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, held in Rome from 29 March to 1 April. IOC Director General Christophe De Kepper and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer Pâquerette Girard Zappelli took part in a panel discussion on tackling corruption in sport, which also included FIFA President and IOC Member Gianni Infantino; Franco Frattini, the Vice-President of the Italian State Council; and Carl Alexandre, Executive Director Partnerships & Planning at INTERPOL. The IOC highlighted the importance of the cooperation between governments and the sports movement to effectively fight corruption in sport, and the vital role of the International Partnership Against Corruption in Sport (IPACS) in this regard.
The IOC wrapped up second gender equality webinar series with record number of attendees. Male allyship, establishing a gender equality action plan and developing initiatives to grow the number of women technical officials were the three topics covered in these Webinars held throughout the month of March for the Olympic Movement. In total, some 1,850 participants from IFs, NOCs and National Federations registered to join the online sessions. Full news release here.
The IOC organised a virtual round-table discussion that brought together four top Olympic broadcasters, in which they revealed how COVID-19 has affected plans for Tokyo 2020 and beyond. Here, the USA’s NBC, Germany’s ZDF and ARD, and Canada’s CBC explain how the pandemic has accelerated a host of exciting innovations and pushed sustainability to the top of the agenda.
The Central Board of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) convened by video conference on 26 March for its first meeting of 2021. Among the key topics discussed were the successful FIBA Continental Cup qualifiers; updates on FIBA competitions for 2021-2023 and the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020; 3x3 basketball; and internal regulations. Full details here.
World Rugby recently launched in Suva (Fiji) and Apia (Samoa) Team Up, the Australian Government’s sport for development programme, which will support the delivery of Get into Rugby PLUS in both Fiji and Samoa over the next two years. Get into Rugby PLUS is a flagship sport for development programme that embeds life-skills learning with rugby union to promote positive behaviour and gender equality and prevent violence against women, girls and boys. Jointly developed and implemented by Oceania Rugby, UN Women, ChildFund Rugby and the Fiji and Samoa Rugby Unions, the programme builds on World Rugby’s Get into Rugby initiative with Fiji and Samoa’s favourite sport. More info at www.worldrugby.com.
The International Surfing Association (ISA) has launched an updated logo (photo) and brand identity system in preparation for surfing’s debut as an Olympic sport this summer at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The new identity embraces simplicity, utilizing a direct and friendlier approach to enhance the federation’s image across the complete range of digital and printed applications. A new and modernised ISA website will also be launched to coincide with the event. More details here.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced that more than 100 nations have signed up to launch the ITF World Tennis Number from 2021. Together, these countries account for 68 million tennis players, equating to 78% of the world’s playing population. The ITF World Tennis Number will establish a single global tennis rating for players of all ages, genders and abilities, making it easier than ever for people to find opponents that are evenly matched to them, wherever they are in the world. More info at www.itftennis.com
national olympic committees
On 27 March, the Algerian NOC organised a conference on “Elite Sport and COVID-19” at its headquarters. The participants – the heads of national sports federations – were welcomed by the NOC President, Abderahmane Hammad, and received extensive information from the speakers about the pandemic and the conduct to be adopted by the members of the Algerian delegation at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, in accordance with IOC and Organising Committee recommendations. The talks, which were followed by a series of discussions, dealt with the following topics: “Miraitowa and Someity”; “COVID-19: Strategy of the National Sports Medicine Centre”; “Athlete COVID+: How to resume sport”; and “The importance of mental aspects in the resumption of sport post-COVID-19”. More info at www.coa.dz.Barbados Olympic Association
Regionally renowned sports administrator Kathy Harper Hall (photo) is the 2021 recipient of the Barbados Olympic Association Inc. (BOA)’s Women in Sport Icon of the Year Award. She received her award during a virtual ceremony hosted by the BOA’s Women in Sport Commission on 28 March. BOA President Sandra Osborne gave the opening address, followed by Commission Chair Ytannia Wiggins. The Award was first presented in 2020, to Esther Maynard, the first Chair of the Women in Sport Commission, and it is now named in her honour for her commitment to sport as a teacher and administrator spanning more than four decades, and her service to the BOA as a long-standing director of its board. Full info here.
The Kenyan NOC is set to build an OlympAfrica Centre in Ruai, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding with the Nairobi County Government. The NOC President, IOC Member Paul Tergat, and Deputy Governor for Nairobi Ann Kananu (see photo) signed the MoU, under which the government has given land free of charge to the NOC for the centre. The NOC is set to take on the operational costs, with OlympAfrica providing seed funding for the centre.
With the objective of promoting mutual sports development as part of the MOU with partner NOCs, and to help people around the world to stay fit by exercising at home, the Korean NOC (KSOC) has produced a set of Home Workout videos. The four videos include exercises featuring Korea’s traditional sport, taekwondo, a workout recorded at a classical Korean house, and workouts for children and at the office. Currently, the KSOC has an agreement with over 50 NOCs for the mutual development of sport. Thanks to its partnership with NOCs around the world, the KSOC has been able to provide athletes with the opportunity to train with other nations through joint training programmes. More info at www.sports.or.kr/eng.
The Mongolian NOC held its 2021 annual meeting virtually, with 103 members taking part and NOC President Naidan Tuvshinbayar chairing the meeting. The 2021 activities plan and budget were approved unanimously. In addition, 11 new members from national sports federations (badminton, boxing, volleyball, weightlifting and wrestling) as well as "Moscow", "Calgary" and "Atlanta" local Olympic councils were also approved. The next Extraordinary General Assembly will be held at the end of August to discuss Olympic issues and fix dates for the NOC Elective Congress for the upcoming quadrennial.
On 25 and 26 March, the NOC of Morocco took part in the Elective Ordinary General Assembly of the African National Olympic Academies (NOAs), which was held by videoconference, and in the sixth NOA session. At this session, which took place in Tunisia, 18 NOAs presented the activities they had conducted in 2020. In addition, a videoconference on “Sport and Universalism” was organised on 23 March by the NOC’s Digital Olympic Academy. Watch it here. Read about all the NOC’s other activities at www.cnom.org.ma.Togolese NOC
Work is underway on the construction of a second OlympAfrica Centre in Togo, in Asrama, Habo prefecture, following on from the one in Lomé. The foundation stone was laid by the Minister for Sport and Leisure, Lidi Bessi-Kama. Those in attendance included the President of the Togolese NOC, Edem Akpaki, the CEO of the International OlympAfrica Foundation in Dakar, Thierno Diack, and representatives from the traditional and local authorities (see photo). The centre will consist of a football pitch, an athletics track, multi-purpose areas and a play area for children.
Organising Committees for the Olympic Games
Milano Cortina 2026
On 30 March, “Futura” was revealed as the official emblem of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026 during an online event broadcast from the headquarters of Milano Cortina 2026 in Milan, in conjunction with the Hall of Honour of CONI in Rome. Giovanni Malagò, President of CONI and Milano Cortina 2026, and Vincenzo Novari, CEO of Milano Cortina 2026, hosted the event together with, among other people, the newly appointed State Undersecretary for Sports and six-time Olympic fencing champion, Valentina Vezzali. This followed a global public vote held between 7 and 25 March 2021, launched to select one of two emblem designs. Just over 871,000 votes were cast from 169 countries around the world, with around 75 per cent of entries selecting “Futura” as their favourite. Full news release here.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first Mediterranean Games, held in 1951 in Alexandria, Egypt. The International Committee of the Mediterranean Games (ICMG) has decided to celebrate this anniversary, among other ways by creating a digital museum with the aim of bringing together as many elements as possible, from all the members of the Mediterranean sports family and more particularly from the host countries, in order to relive the history of the Mediterranean Games. Info at www.cijm.org.gr.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has published the Agency’s “live” webinar schedule for April. This schedule encompasses all webinars being offered, including the 2021 Code Implementation Support Programme webinar series; the 2021 athlete-led webinar series for athletes; and the Africa webinar series being offered by the Agency’s African Regional Office to assist anti-doping stakeholders in the region. Full schedule here. In addition, the WADA has announced that its secure, digital whistleblower platform ‘Speak Up!’ is now available in Spanish (‘Rompe el Silencio!) in addition to English and French. More info here.