Another highly symbolic step was taken when a joint Korean team played hosts Germany at the opening match of the Handball World Championship 2019 in the formerly divided city of Berlin. “This is a continuation of the IOC initiative at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 with the joint Korean team at the Opening Ceremony and the joint women’s ice hockey team. I would like to congratulate and thank IHF President Hassan Moustafa for having made this joint handball team possible,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. He watched the first game of the tournament, which is being held in Germany and Denmark, together with the Federal President of Germany, Frank Walter Steinmeier, IHF President Moustafa and 13,500 visitors in the packed arena. “We have seen already at the Olympic Winter Games that sport can perhaps achieve what is difficult to achieve in politics,” Federal President Steinmeier told reporters at the match. The IOC President, who met and congratulated the team after the game, stressed that the IOC will continue working on opportunities for joint Korean teams at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and beyond. He has invited representatives of the NOCs and of the governments of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea to a meeting in February in Lausanne to discuss this topic. The interests of both NOCs and both governments in jointly hosting the Olympic Games 2032 will also be on the agenda of this meeting.
In Oberhof (Germany), the IOC President was welcomed by the International Biathlon Union (IBU) President, Olle Dahlin for the first IBU Biathlon World Cup stage of 2019. It was their second meeting in under three months. President Bach reiterated his support for the reforms and progress made under the new IBU leadership: “I am impressed by the great progress the IBU has made with regard to their anti-doping programme and good governance under his (Dahlin) leadership. I am sure that these measures will foster the appeal of this great sport of biathlon.” Both presidents watched the men’s 10km sprint competition. Following the race, they met with IBU Athletes’ Committee Chair Clare Egan and IBU Athletes’ Committee members Martin Fourcade and Erik Lesser as well as the current leader in the IBU World Cup Overall Standings, Johannes Thingnes Boe. Full IBU press release here.
Earlier in the week, the IOC President met the new President of the Organising Committee for the Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Lausanne 2020, Virginie Faivre, a former world champion freestyle skier. On this occasion, President Bach praised the Organising Committee for its progress saying that Lausanne 2020 can "set a benchmark" for future editions of the Winter Youth Olympic Games. He also said that Lausanne 2020 could build on the success of Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018. Together they attended the unveiling of the YOG mascot and an ice hockey match between Swiss teams from Lausanne and Davos. Beforehand, the President had visited the future “Vaudoise Arena” site, which will host the YOG ice hockey, figure skating and short track speed skating competitions (see also under ‘YOG’ section).
On 11 January, the IOC received Candidature Files from Stockholm-Are (Sweden) and Milan-Cortina (Italy) for the Olympic Winter Games 2026. The Chair of the IOC Evaluation Commission for the Olympic Winter Games 2026, Octavian Morariu, said: “With these two traditional sports countries as candidates, we see the very positive impact of the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms. Both countries have vast experience in organising World Cups and World Championships, with existing infrastructure and experienced operators. This has allowed the candidates to reduce the investment needed and increase the sustainability of their projects.” The files received on 11 January, and the other documents submitted during the process will form part of an analysis by the IOC Evaluation Commission, which will also visit each City. The Commission will be in Stockholm-Are from 12 to 16 March and Milan-Cortina from 2 to 6 April 2019. The Commission’s report will be made public ahead of the host city election, which will take place in June this year during the 134th IOC Session in Lausanne. Full press release here.
The IOC has recognised 11 research centres worldwide for the prevention of injury and the protection of athletes’ health. Over the next four years, these centres will be tasked with researching, developing and implementing effective preventive and treatment methods for sports-related injuries and illnesses. They will receive support from the IOC and join an international network of expert scientists and clinicians in sports-injury and disease-prevention research. Since 2009, the IOC, under the leadership of its Medical and Scientific Commission, has supported and partnered with established research centres from around the world that have demonstrated clinical, educational and research expertise in the fields of sports medicine and elite sports, to promote athletes’ health through the prevention of injury and illness. Full press release here.
international sportS FEDERATIONS
Nicolas Buompane (photo) officially took up his role as the Secretary General of the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) on 1 January 2019. The FIG Deputy Secretary General since 2007, he was appointed to the new position by the FIG Executive Committee at the proposal of President Morinari Watanabe in late February 2018. Buompane succeeds fellow countryman Andre F. Gueisbuhler (SUI), who held this position from 2005 to 2018. More info at www.gymnastics.sport.
The International Swimming Federation (FINA) has announced three new hosts for the FINA Open Water Series in 2019. Ohird (Macedonia) will be the seventh host in the Marathon Swim World Series, running from February to September, crossing Asia, America and Europe. Novi (Croatia) and Rosario (Argentina) will organise the second and fifth stops respectively of the Ultra Marathon Swim Series. See the calendar here.
The President of World Rugby, Bill Beaumont (photo), has been awarded a knighthood for services to rugby in the New Year’s Honours List by Queen Elizabeth II. Elected President of the IF in 2016, this honour is in recognition of a champion of rugby who has dedicated his life to the betterment of the sport on and off the field in both a domestic and global context. More details here.
The International Surfing Association (ISA) has announced that 40 scholarships were awarded to young surfers from 20 countries through its 2018 scholarship programme. The beneficiaries include surfers from Côte d’Ivoire, Iran, the Philippines, Samoa and Sri Lanka – countries that have not yet received such assistance. Created in 2007, this programme offers financial aid to young surfers under 18. To date, over 300 scholarships have been awarded. More details here.
Giuseppe Cinnirella (photo), who was Secretary General of World Archery from 1981 to 2005, died on 4 January 2019. Appointed Secretary General in 1981 during the presidency of Francesco Gnecchi-Ruscone, he held the position until the end of James Easton’s time as President in 2005, before being named Honorary Secretary General. Cinnirella was an international judge and a technical official at the Olympic Games Moscow 1980. In 1999, the IF awarded him a gold plaquette for services to the sport. More details here.
The President of the World Curling Federation (WCF), Kate Caithness (photo), has been made a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to sport, in Queen Elizabeth II’s New Year’s Honours List. She was the first female president of an Olympic Winter Sports IF and has been involved in curling since the 1980s. WCF Board member Hew Chalmers was also honoured, becoming a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE). More details here.
In 2019, the eighth edition of World Snow Day will see 469 events and actions take place in 45 countries worldwide. Numerous activities will be organised in various locations, including in urban areas. Some of the standout events include 112 events throughout China; over 50 ski and snowboard schools offering free lessons to children across Poland; and seven events in the southern hemisphere, in South Africa, Peru and Brazil. This edition will also be special for the organisers, as they will be vying to earn a World Snow Day Award, which recognises efforts to bring children to the snow under varying circumstances. More details here on the International Ski Federation (FIS) site.
NATIONAL Olympic COMMITTEES
At the 20th edition of the Brazil Olympic Awards, sponsored by the Brazilian NOC, the 2018 IOC Olympism in Action trophy was awarded to judo coach Geraldo Bernardes (photo). A mentor to Rio 2016 Olympic champion Rafaela Silva and Athens 2014 bronze medallist Flávio Canto, Geraldo Bernardes is one of the founders of the Institut Reação, which has already catered to over 10,000 children and young people in socially vulnerable conditions and coached the judokas on the Rio 2016 Refugee Olympic Team, Yolande Bikasa and Popole Misenga. Other awards presented at the gala celebration included the Best Athletes of the Year 2018, awarded to swimmer Ana Marcela Cunha and canoeist Isaquias Queiroz. More details here. The Brazilian NOC’s Hall of Fame was also inaugurated. More details here.
NOC of Ecuador
The NOC of Ecuador has become the first NOC to organise an Olympic gala certified as carbon neutral, during which the best athletes of the year were honoured. The gala was held on 19 December 2018 in Guayaquil, in the presence of 200 guests, athletes and officials. On this occasion, Gustavo Manrique, President of Sambito S.A. Soluciones Ambientales Totales, presented the carbon neutral certification to NOC President Augusto Morán, and broadly outlined the initiative, which is part of the awareness-raising campaign led by the NOC’s Sport and Environment Commission. Tamara Salazar (weightlifting) and Andres Chocho (athletics) were named the Best Athletes of 2018, while Neisi Dájomes (weightlifting) and Óscar Patín (athletics) won in the youth category. More info on www.coe.org.ec.
The Fiji Association of Sports and NOC (FASANOC)’s Voices of the Athletes (VOA) programme has been awarded the 2018 IOC Olympism in Action trophy. The programme was honoured for supporting sport and promoting physical activity, education, sports development, and promoting peace, sustainable development and sport at the service of humanity and gender equality. The trophy was received in Suva by VOA champions Hilda Vukikomoala and Junior Valentine (left in photo) in the presence of FASANOC CEO Lorraine Mar (right in photo). The VOA champions are athletes from various sports federations who have either represented Fiji regionally or internationally or are current Fiji representatives.
At its Annual Session on 21 December, the Georgian NOC presented the various activities carried out in 2018, and the main sporting successes, to leaders of national federations and associations, Olympic champions, Ministry of Culture, Sport and Education representatives, and the media. At this Session, the Best Athlete of 2018 award was presented to weightlifter Lasha Talakhadze (right in photo), an Olympic, world and European champion who also received the special “Olympic Flame” award from NOC President Leri Khabelov (left in photo). In addition, 23 Olympic champions were awarded the Presidential Order of Excellence, presented by the President of Georgia, Giorgi Margvelashvili. Info at www.geonoc.org.ge.
The Hellenic NOC Annual Awards Ceremony was held in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic, Prokopios Pavlopoulos. The athletes who were honoured along with their coaches were those who won gold medals at the European and World Championships in 2018 and at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 as well as those who secured quota places for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The ceremony was also attended by the President of the European Olympic Committees, Janez Kocijančič, and its Secretary General, Raffaele Pagnozzi, as well as the President of the International Committee of Mediterranean Games, Amar Addadi, and the Secretary General, Iakovos Filippousis. The 2018 IOC Olympism in Action trophy was awarded to Stefanos Handakas, who secured the medical support programme for the athletes, for his contribution to sport and Olympism. More info here. Tennis champion Alexandros Caldwell was the last athlete to receive financial aid offered by the Olympic family through the Hellenic NOC and its President, Spyros Capralos to all those affected by the devastating wildfires in summer 2018. In total, 14 people and three sports clubs have shared EUR 150,000 donated by the IOC, the European Olympic Committees and the Association of National Olympic Committees to assist athletes affected by the fire and to repair the damage to the sports venues in the fire-stricken areas. More info here.
The annual general meeting of the NOC of Hong Kong, China saw the election of its officers on 18 December. IOC Honorary Member Timothy Tsun Ting Fok was re-elected as President. The full election results are here.
In early January, the Minister in charge of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, Sakurada Yoshitaka (left in photo), visited the NOC of Israel. Present on this occasion were NOC President Igal Carmi (right in photo) and CEO Gilad Lustig, IOC Member Alex Gilady, Israeli Paralympic Committee President Shuki Dekel and Secretary General Nissim Sasportas, as well as the NOC’s Goodwill Ambassador, Roni Bornstein. Info at www.olympicsil.co.il.
The Japanese NOC closed the eighth year of its International Sports Leader Academy (JISLA) with a graduation ceremony on 13 December 2018 at the NOC’s National Training Centre during the Annual NOC/National Federations (NFs) Forum. This year, 46 people representing 31 NFs and other sports organisations took part. The Academy aims to teach participants international communications skills and knowledge to help them be successful in international sports organisations. The NOC/NFs International Relations Forum brought together some 167 participants. The aim was to share information and knowledge on the IOC, the NOCs, the IFs and other topics, in order to contribute to developing sport worldwide, and recognise the importance of improving the sporting environment and tackling issues the sports world is facing. More info at www.joc.or.jp.
At its last meeting of 2018, held in Amman, the Jordan NOC Board expressed its confidence for 2019 following a strong year for the NOC. Led by IOC Member Prince Feisal Al Hussein, the Board discussed the sporting successes of 2018 and identified areas that need to be improved in each of the NOC’s five strategic drivers, including Sport for All, further federation development and sports psychology. The Jordan Prevention of Harassment and Abuse in Sport Regulations, which had been pre-approved by the IOC, were also presented to the Board and later the General Assembly. Info at www.joc.jo.
The NOC of Kazakhstan and the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office organised a seminar for female athletes from Kazakhstan on 13 and 14 December 2018. With the theme of women athletes’ career transition, this seminar brought together over 30 women who were either active athletes, had completed their sports career or where preparing to change social spheres. The participants were given advice on developing communications skills, self-presentation and career guidance. The NOC representatives also underlined the existence of Olympic Solidarity international programmes. More info here.
During the 2018 Plenary Session of the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC) held in Beijing on 28 December, IOC Member and COC Vice-President Li Lingwei (left in photo) presented the bronze medal and participation pin from the Olympic Games London 2012 to hammer thrower Zhang Wenxiu (right in photo), who received them after the gold medallist was disqualified for failing doping tests. COC President Gou Zhongwen presented the 2018 IOC Olympism in Action trophy to Beijing Shougang Group, Beijing 2022’s Official Urban Regeneration Services Partner, which renovated its old industrial plants and provided them to Beijing 2022 for its headquarters. During the Session, Gou Zhongwen reviewed the COC’s activities, highlighting participation in the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018 and Asian Games Jakarta 2018, as well as the preparations for the next editions of the Olympic Games. More info on www.olympic.cn.
As is now customary, numerous athletes, coaches, officials and personalities from the sports world, as well as sports fans, attended the traditional Sports Mass celebrated on 6 January in 24 states across Venezuela. Venezuelan NOC President Eduardo Álvarez (right in photo) was present at the celebration in Caracas.
ORGANISING ComMITTEES FOR THE YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES
To celebrate one year to go until the 3rd Winter Youth Olympic Games (YOG), the YOG Lausanne 2020 Organising Committee (YOGOC) unveiled its mascot, called “Yodli”, which was designed by students from Eracom, a local art and communications school. Yodli is a hybrid animal, composed of several emblematically Swiss animals that live in the Swiss mountains: a cow, a goat and of course a St Bernard dog (see press release here). Besides presenting the mascot, the Lausanne 2020 YOGOC organised a ceremony in the Flon area in central Lausanne, which will serve as the Medals Plaza during the YOG. Fans were entertained by Olympic snowboarder and musician Pat Burgener and students from the Haute Ecole de Musique de Lausanne, while Yodli danced with the crowds. The big moment of the evening has been when the OMEGA countdown clock displayed exactly 365 days to go at 20.20. Full press release here.
The IOC, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) have launched the 2019 edition of the IOC/IAKS and IPC/IAKS architecture award. In addition, an architecture and design award for students and young professionals will also be presented by the three organisations. More info on the award and application forms can be found at www.iaks.org