On 9 January, the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020 took place at the Vaudoise Arena where 8,000 spectators enjoyed seven stories emphasising the Olympic spirit and the theme of “Home”. “Our wonderful Swiss hosts make us all feel at home, right here in the Olympic Capital” said IOC President Thomas Bach in his speech. Addressing the young athletes, he said: “You will experience the Olympic spirit in everything you do. You will enjoy your first Olympic competition. You will make new friends. You will become more familiar with the Olympic Values. And you will live these Olympic Values by respecting yourself, by respecting your competitors, by respecting the rules and by competing with fair-play.” The President of the Swiss Confederation Simonetta Sommaruga then officially declared the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020 open.
The highlight of the 135th IOC Session was the awarding of the Winter YOG to Asia for the first time, building on the legacy of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018. The fourth edition of the Winter YOG 2024 will be held in Gangwon province in the cities of PyeongChang and Gangneung. The hosting of the Winter YOG leverages the significant investment that the Republic of Korea has made into developing winter sport in the country and throughout Asia. Full news release here.
Presenting the Olympic to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the IOC President said: “Today we are awarding the Olympic Cup for 2019 to UNHCR, one of the long-standing UN partners of the IOC and the Olympic Movement. UNHCR has celebrated the power of sport for refugees’ protection and well-being and has been an advocate for our Olympic values. Without UNHCR we could not have created the IOC Refugee Olympic Team”. Accepting the award, Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “This award is a tribute I want to share with all my colleagues around the world who have gone above and beyond to bring opportunities to displaced people through sport, even in the most challenging circumstances.” Full news release here.
In his speech to the IOC Session, President Bach re-emphasised the importance of solidarity model and political neutrality. “This Olympic year also reminds us that we can send this strong message of unity in diversity to the world only with solidarity. Universality at the Olympic Games is possible only if everyone can participate under fair conditions. This is why our Olympic Solidarity model is so important. This model benefits all athletes from all NOCs in the world. Not just a few countries. Not just a few sports.” President Bach also elaborated on the importance of political neutrality: “Another important element of our mission is political neutrality. We can accomplish our mission to unite the world only if the Olympic Games stand above and beyond any and all political differences. We can achieve this global solidarity and true universality only if the IOC and the Olympic Games are politically neutral.”
Concerning the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the IOC Session took note of “the unprecedented level of excitement for the Games”, according to the IOC Coordination Commission Chair John Coates. The Tokyo 2020 delegation, led by its CEO Toshiro Muto, also highlighted the high levels of engagement both at home and abroad. Full news release here.
Several topics were presented and discussed at the IOC Session. Morinari Watanabe delivered a progress report on the IOC Boxing Task Force (BTF)’s activities. The members heard a report by Nenad Lalovic on the International Boxing Association (AIBA) from the Special Monitoring Committee, set up in June last year after the IOC Session decided to suspend the recognition of AIBA. The Chair of the Esports and Gaming Liaison Group, UCI President David Lappartient, reported on recommendations agreed by the Olympic Summit in December to promote the Olympic sports and values in esports and gaming. The IOC Session approved the full recognition of the Alliance of Independent Recognised Members of Sport (AIMS). Full details here. The Chair of the IOC Ethics Commission and former United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon presented his report to the Session. The IOC Session also heard reports from the newly elected President of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Witold Banka, the Chair of the International Testing Agency (ITA) Valerie Fourneyron as well as the Chair of the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission Uğur Erdener. Full details here.
The IOC Session elected three new Members following the proposal made by the IOC EB on 5 December. The three new Members are: Yasuhiro Yamashita, President of the Japanese Olympic Committee; David Haggerty, President of the International Tennis Federation (ITF, and Gianni Infantino, President of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA). More details here.
The IOC Session also elected Amina Mohamed as a new member of the IOC Ethics Commission. Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Heritage in Kenya since 2018, Mrs Mohamed was elected as an independent member in her capacity as a personality and non-IOC Member.
The Olympic Order was awarded to five IOC Honorary Members: Iván Dibós, Austin L. Sealy, Samih Moudallal, Habu Gumel and Willi Kaltschmitt Luján.
On the evening of the Session, the IOC Dinner took place.
Ahead of the IOC Session, President Thomas Bach chaired the first meeting of the year of the IOC Executive Board (EB). Danka Bartekova, Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission, provided the final progress report ahead of the opening of the Winter YOG Lausanne 2020, outlining that all venues are now ready to host competitions.
Concerning Dakar 2022, IOC Member and President of the NOC of Senegal Mamadou Ndiaye was joined by Ibrahima Wade, General Coordinator for Dakar 2022, and Kirsty Coventry, Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission, for an update on the latest activities and preparations. The EB approved the proposed dates of 22 October to 9 November 2022 for this 4th edition of the YOG as well as the request from the Dakar 2022 Organising Committee to add baseball5 and wushu to the sports programme. Full news release here.
The EB was informed on the latest developments on the ongoing CAS case regarding the Russian Anti-Doping Agency as well as the situation of the International Weightlifting Federation. The EB Members also heard reports from the Chairs of the IOC Coordination Commissions for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024, as well as a report about the IOC activities.
During their annual joint meeting, the IOC EB and the IOC Athletes’ Commission (AC) had the opportunity to reflect on a busy and productive year that saw the launch of a number of key programmes and initiatives for athletes and to look ahead to 2020 with the highlight of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Among the long list of topics discussed were the guidelines developed by the IOC AC around Olympic Charter Rule 50 and its implementation during the Olympic Games, the creation of a working group studying how to strengthen the solidarity funding model and how athletes are supported directly and indirectly; and the outcome of projects initiated and led by the IOC AC in the course of 2019. Full details here.
At Olympic House, President Thomas Bach had a meeting with the Minister for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020, Seiko Hashimoto, the Mayor of Sapporo Katsuhiro Akimoto, the President of the Japanese Olympic Committee and newly elected IOC Member Yasuhiro Yamashita and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto. They discussed the progress on a potential candidature of Sapporo for the Olympic Winter Games 2030 as well as the progress being made with regard the organisation of the Tokyo 2020 marathon and race walk events in Sapporo.
President Bach welcomed the Minister of Youth and Sport of the Islamic Republic of Iran Masoud Soltani Far, accompanied by the President of the Iran NOC Seyed Reza Salehi Amiri. Discussions focused on the role of sport in the Iran society and compliance with the Olympic Charter.
The IOC President met a delegation led by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea Park Yang-woo, the Governor of Gwangwon Province Choi Moon Soon and the Vice Secretary General of the Korean Olympic Committee Park Chul Keun. Together they talked about the awarding of the Winter Youth Olympic Games 2024 to the Gangwon Province as well as the preparations for Tokyo 2020.
During an informational meeting for new IOC Members, the President met with Kikkan Randall, Odette Assembe Engoulou, Filomena Fortes, Matlohang Moiloa Ramoqopo, Laura Chinchilla, Spyros Capralos, Mustafa Berraf, Narinder Dhruv Batra, Kee Heung Lee, Yasuhiro Yamashita and David Haggerty. The meeting was chaired by IOC EB member Denis Oswald and former IOC Member Barry Maister.
Ahead of the Opening Ceremony of the YOG Lausanne 2020, accompanied by the IOC EB members, President Thomas Bach welcomed at Olympic House, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, the President of the National Council, Isabelle Moret, the State Councillor of Canton of Vaud, Philippe Leuba, the Mayor of Lausanne, Grégoire Junod, and representatives from the municipal, cantonal and federal authorities. The President thanked the Swiss President for the commitment and the support from the Confederation to the organisation of the YOG Lausanne 2020 and to the Olympic Movement.
Few days before the Opening Ceremony, President Bach and the Mayor of Lausanne, Grégoire Junod, became patrons of a new Swiss Federal Railways (CFF) locomotive, named “Lausanne Capitale Olympique”. The ceremony took place in the Lausanne train station, in the presence of dignitaries from local and regional government, the YOG Lausanne 2020 Organising Committee and the CFF.
The President went also to Vortex, the Youth Olympic Village, where he participated in the inauguration of a commemorative plaque in tribute to the late Patrick Baumann, IOC Member, President of the Lausanne 2020 Organising Committee and FIBA Secretary General. The ceremony took place in the presence of Patrick Baumann’s wife and son, Patricia and Paul, IOC EB member Denis Oswald, Lausanne 2020 President Virginie Faivre, and current FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis.
Like at each edition of the Olympic Games and of the YOG, the President will visit all the competition sites in order to attend all the sports and to follow in particular the new disciplines on the programme, the YOG serving for the IOC as a laboratory for new ideas and new sports.
During the YOG Lausanne 2020, the IOC President will have the opportunity to meet and discuss with young ambassadors, young reporters and role model athletes. Also on his agenda, a participation in the "chat with the champions" forum.
President Bach will also address the 14 IOC Commissions which will meet at Olympic House over the next days. Likewise, he will hold many meetings with a certain number of Sports Ministers, IOC members, IFs Presidents and NOC Presidents present in Lausanne.
It is with great sadness that the IOC has learnt of the death of HRH the Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbón, IOC Honorary Member, at the age of 83. The Infanta, who practised equestrian sports in her youth, was President of the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) from 1994 to 2006, a role that led her to becoming an IOC Member in Spain between 1996 and 2006. President Bach paid tribute to HRH the Infanta Doña Pilar de Borbón as, “an extraordinary personality in the worldwide Olympic Movement. In everything she did, her great passion for sport always shone through. I will always remember her as a kind and warm-hearted friend, who was guided by the Olympic Values with an unwavering commitment to promoting the role of sport in society,” he said. A member of the IOC Sport and Environment Commission between 1999 and 2006 and honorary member of the IOC since 2006, she also served the Olympic Movement as an Executive Board member of the Spanish NOC and Honorary President of the Spanish Equestrian Federation. Full news release here.
Other Olympic news
On 6 January the IOC published a statement on the situation of the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF). Full news release here.
The IOC has launched a new guide to help the sporting community combat plastic pollution. The guide, entitled “Plastic Game Plan for Sport”, was published in collaboration with UN Environment, and includes contributions from World Sailing. Referencing successful examples from across the sports world, it provides guidance to event organisers on creating an effective plan to reduce plastic waste. Complete press release here.
For the second edition of the FINA Champions Swim Series, 70 swimmers (including 29 women) from 26 nations will take part in the two legs of the event, which will take place in the Chinese cities of Shenzhen on 14 and 15 January, and Beijing on 18 and 19 January 2020. Each leg comprises 14 individual events and a relay race. An entertainment programme will also be performed at each session. More info on the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) website, www.fina.org.
The International Triathlon Union (ITU) has launched the 2020 Athlete Scholarship Programme. This Programme is meant to identify and provide support, resources and expertise to athletes from developing or emerging National Federations with the greatest needs to compete at Continental and World level over the Olympic Qualification and help their preparation and qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and beyond. More details here.
The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) announced at the end of December that Turin (Italy) has been selected to host the men’s finals of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) from 1 to 5 July 2020. Previous editions have taken place in France (2018) and the United States (2019). The competition will be held at the Pala Alpitour Arena, which hosted the men’s volleyball world championships in 2018. A new world ranking system will come into effect as of 1 February 2020, taking into account all results since 1 January 2019. Nevertheless, for the purposes of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 the current world rankings, based on the rankings as of 31 January 2020, will be applied. More info at www.fivb.org.
National Olympic Committees
At the end of December, the province of Bejaia in Algeria hosted several Olympic-related events. The NOC of Algeria, in collaboration with the provincial authorities, hosted the 2019 edition of Olympic Day on 27 and 28 December. A rich and varied programme was offered to participants. Young athletes took part in demonstrations of a variety of sporting disciplines, and around 1200 athletes participated in the Olympic Day run in Tichy. More info here. The 3rd Athletes’ Forum brought together several Olympians and national team members from eastern Algeria. The sessions were led by two Olympic champions: Abderhmane Hammad, who is also chair of the NOC’s athletes’ commission, and Soraya Haddad. Themes included Olympic grants and assistance for athletes, and problems faced by athletes during and after their sports careers. More info here. As part of a programme implemented by the NOC medical commission, a debate on doping was organised in Bejaia, with the participation of Olympians, members of the national squad, sports doctors and administrators. More info here.
For the first time since 2015 the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee hosted Olympic Day on 31 December 2019 at the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Complex in Riyadh. Because of the high heat in June, the NOC decided to postpone the event. Around 500 children, their families and NOC employees took part. An Olympic booth provided information on the Olympic Movement and values, and a nutrition booth supplied information on the importance of a healthy diet. The children were able to try out different sports and take part in a 2km fun run. Among the athletes present at the event was 400m Olympic medallist Hadi Soua’an, who talked about his career, and the importance of sport in his life.
The 23rd general assembly of the NOC, chaired by NOC President Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, took place on 25 December. A highlight of the meeting was the election of Adwa Alarifi to the Executive Board, making her the second woman to join the committee.
At the Plenary Session of the Chinese Olympic Committee, which took place in Beijing on 26 December, NOC President Gou Zhongwen (r. on photo) awarded the IOC 2019 Sport and Sustainable Architecture trophy to the National Aquatics Centre, in recognition of its contribution to sustainable development in the city, and the promotion of Olympic values in China. At the same session, NOC vice-president and IOC Member Li Lingwei awarded the bronze medal for the women’s shot put event of the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 to Gong Lijiao. The medal was reallocated following the disqualification of two athletes for doping offences. More info at www.olympic.cn.
Romá Cuyà, president of the Spanish NOC from 1983 to 1984, died on 27 December at the age of 81. He was a member of the Club Natació Barcelona, and competed in race walk and middle distance events. In 1982 he was appointed coordinator of Barcelona’s bid to host the Olympic Games, and was president of the Supreme Sports Council from 1982 to 1987. He was a member of the Spanish Athletics Federation, and president of the Catalan Athletics Federation from 2000 to 2012. In 1984 he become an honorary life member of the NOC. More details can be found on www.coe.es.
The NOC of Chad organised the first COST Awards ceremony in N’Djamena in mid-December. Five prizes were awarded for sports figures who made a contribution to the development and promotion of sport in 2019. The judoka and gold medallist at the Dakar Open, Memneloum Demos (l. on photo) was awarded the prize for the best athlete of the year by the Minister of Arts and Culture, Madeleine Alingué (r.). A message from the IOC President was broadcast at the event.
Furthermore, as the country’s preparation for the Olympic Games Paris 2024, the NOCs of Chad and Spain signed a cooperation and partnership agreement in Madrid in December 2019. The accord was signed by the two NOC Presidents, Abakar Djermah and Alejandro Blanco.
Athletes, coaches, leaders and dignitaries from the sports world joined sports fans at the traditional sporting mass, held each year on 6 January in Venezuela’s 24 states. The president of the Venezuelan NOC, Eduardo Alvarez, attended the celebration in Caracas. More details here.
Organising Committees for the Olympic Games
The organising committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Tokyo 2020) has unveiled 20 official art posters created by 19 artists. Twelve of the posters are on the theme of the Olympic Games, with eight on the Paralympic Games. The twenty designs, selected by Tokyo 2020 in cooperation with the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage, will be on display from 7 January to 16 February at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Read the complete press release here.