From 10 to 12 March, the IOC held its second remote Session in Olympic history. IOC President Thomas Bach chaired the meeting from Olympic House in Lausanne. As at every Session, the proceedings were streamed live on YouTube.
Originally, the 137th IOC Session was planned to take place in Athens. On the opening day of the Session, IOC President Thomas Bach thanked all the Greek organisers, in particular the Hellenic Olympic Committee and its President, Spyros Capralos, for their understanding and the great preparatory work that had already gone into organising the Session. The IOC President then handed over to Mr Capralos, who opened the remote IOC Session symbolically from the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.
In his opening speech, President Bach emphasised the optimism created by the successful organisation of over 270 major sports events with measures in place to safeguard the health of all involved. He also spoke of the widespread support the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 have received from the United Nations and the G20 and G7 Leaders. Reflecting on this, he said: “Encouraged by this support, the IOC is working at full speed together with our Japanese partners and friends to make the postponed Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 a safe manifestation of peace, solidarity and the resilience of humankind in overcoming the pandemic.” On the exceptional nature of this Olympic year – preparing for two editions of the Olympic Games in parallel – President Bach highlighted the excellent state of preparations for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. He concluded his speech by saying that the world continues to evolve at an ever-increasing pace, which creates new challenges to turn into opportunities. “For this reason, we will discuss during this Session Olympic Agenda 2020+5, our vision for this new world. Full news release here.
The first topic on the Session agenda was Olympic Agenda 2020. The Session praised the achievements of the strategic roadmap for the IOC and the Olympic Movement. In the six years since it was adopted, Olympic Agenda 2020 has had a profound impact on the Olympic Movement and resulted in important transformations. It has strengthened the IOC and the Olympic Movement by introducing changes intended to make the Olympic Games fit for the future. It has also safeguarded the Olympic values and reinforced the role of sport in society. Commenting after the unanimous approval of the Closing Report on Olympic Agenda 2020 by IOC Members, Thomas Bach said: “Today, we look back at what we have achieved together. Over the course of the past years, all Olympic Movement stakeholders have contributed to make Olympic Agenda 2020 come to life.” He added: “With Olympic Agenda 2020 we turned the challenges into opportunities. With Olympic Agenda 2020, we have changed the Olympic Movement.” Full speech of IOC President here. Read here the full news release.
On the first day of the Session, Thomas Bach has been re-elected for an additional four-year term as IOC President. He received 93 yes and 1 no votes from the 94 valid votes. “Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart for this overwhelming vote of confidence and trust. For me, this is even more overwhelming considering the many reforms and the many difficult decisions we had to take, which affected all of us,” said President Bach after the election. “You know that this touches me deeply. It also makes me humble. When you elected me for the first time as your President in 2013 in Buenos Aires, I said that I wanted to lead the IOC according to my campaign motto ‘Unity in diversity’ and be a President for all of you and for all our stakeholders. This commitment is also true for my second and last term. My door, my ears and my heart remain open for each and every one of you. I hope that I can count on your continued dedication, support and friendship also during these four more years.” Full acceptance speech here and full news release here.
The Organising Committees of the upcoming Olympic Games shared positive progress reports on their preparations with the 137th IOC Session. Updates were also given by the Chairs of the Coordination Commissions.
Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko and CEO Muto Toshiro updated the Session on its final preparations, promising to deliver “safety first” Olympic and Paralympic Games that will excite and inspire the world. Full details here.
Zhang Jiandong, Executive Vice-President of Beijing 2022 updated the IOC Session on the progress being made. He mentioned in particular the organisation of international test events and highlighted Beijing 2022’s focus on safety with the development of COVID-19 countermeasure planning. More details here.
Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet and CEO Etienne Thobois provided an overview of their Organising Committee’s recent successes such as the Paris 2024 Club, Terre de Jeux 2024 programme as well as the recent Olympic and Paralympic week. More details here.
Following a report from the Future Host Commission for the Games of the Oympiad, the IOC Members heard the three levels of government in Australia testifying to the benefits of the new approach and confirming their support for the Brisbane 2032 project. The decision to enter into a targeted dialogue for the Olympic Games 2032 was endorsed by the IOC Members and the Future Host Commission will start more detailed discussions with Brisbane 2032 and the AOC. Full details here.
The Session also received an update about the progress on vaccinations and has further outlined its plans to work with the NOCs to enhance athletes’ safety as they train and compete over the coming months. Addressing the Session, President Bach informed that the IOC has received an offer from the Chinese Olympic Committee to assist in making vaccines available to NOCs in whose territories the Chinese vaccine has been approved by the relevant national health authority. Although the details are still being worked out, President Bach confirmed that the IOC is ready to pay for these additional doses of vaccines for not only the Olympic but also the Paralympic teams, as well as for two further doses, which can be made available to the population in the respective countries according to their needs. More details here.
After a lively debate, the IOC Session unanimously approved Olympic Agenda 2020+5 as the new strategic roadmap of the IOC and the Olympic Movement through to 2025. Consisting of 15 recommendations, the new roadmap builds on the achievements of Olympic Agenda 2020, and will guide the work of the IOC and the Olympic Movement for the next five years. The 15 recommendations that make up Olympic Agenda 2020+5 have been developed though an inclusive and collaborative process. They are based on key trends that have been identified through robust research as likely to be decisive in the post-coronavirus world. They are also areas where sport and the values of Olympism can play a key role in turning challenges into opportunities. The five trends are: solidarity, digitalisation, sustainability, credibility, economic and financial resilience. Full speech by IOC President here. More details here.
The IOC Session received updates on anti-doping activities from both the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Testing Agency (ITA). The two organisations are working hand in hand to protect clean sport and the integrity of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, including a robust and comprehensive pre-Games anti-doping programme. Full details here.
The IOC Members approved the EB proposal to select Athens as the host city of the IOC Session in 2025. Full info here.
Ahead of the IOC Session, the IOC President chaired the meeting of the IOC Executive Board (EB), which took place remotely via videoconference on 8 March. The EB discussed the next editions of the Olympic Games as well as several Olympic institutional issues. President Thomas Bach opened the meeting by wishing everyone an excellent International Women’s Day.
Further to the IOC EB decision of 7 December 2020 in relation to the NOC of Belarus, the IOC has been informed that the quadrennial elective General Assembly of the NOC took place on 26 February 2021. The IOC notes that the NOC Statutes were updated in line with the usual standards of good governance. However, the IOC also noted with great disappointment that the NOC had failed to fully address the first item of the IOC EB decision of 7 December 2020 that the previous leadership of the NOC of Belarus had not appropriately protected the Belarusian athletes from political discrimination within the NOC, their member federations or the sports movement. Therefore, the IOC EB adopted provisional measures whose full text can be found here. Read also the full news release here.
Concerning the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, IOC President reported that, following the recent five-party “Here We Go” meeting to discuss the state of the preparations, he had received a letter from the Prime Minister of Japan, Suga Yoshihide, reaffirming the strong determination and commitment of the Government of Japan to ensuring the success of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The EB approved two sets of Anti-Doping Rules for Tokyo 2020.
The EB received updates from Nenad Lalović on the activities of the Summer Olympic International Federations and from Ivo Ferriani for the International Olympic Winter Sports Federations.
The EB received an update on the latest developments concerning the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF).
Robin Mitchell updated the EB on the activities of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), in particular regarding the various events planned to mark International Women’s Day.
Kirsty Coventry updated the EB on behalf of the athletes, talking about the ways the IOC Athletes’ Commission is engaging with the athlete community in the lead-up to the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022, highlighting in particular the organisation of the virtual International Athletes’ Forum at the end of May.
Chair of the Esports and Gaming Liaison Group David Lappartient gave an update on the ongoing dialogue with IFs, with a view to exploring opportunities to leverage the growing popularity of virtual sport.
IOC EB member Kirsty Coventry and IOC member Mamadou Ndiaye represented the IOC during a high-level ministerial dialogue with the Sports Ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries, followed by the second meeting of the Bureau of the seventh session of the Conference of the Parties to the International Convention against Doping in Sport (COP7). These meetings took place at the beginning of February in Dakar (Senegal), under the aegis of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO).
IOC member Batbold Battushig delivered a welcome speech at the opening ceremony of the "Mongolian NOC – 65” international online conference. He also read the congratulatory message from the IOC President to mark the NOC's 65th anniversary. Battushig has been NOC First Vice-President since 2017.
Other Olympic news
On International Women’s Day, the IOC, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the Government of Japan and The Tokyo Metropolitan Government reiterated their commitment to make the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer a landmark in gender equality on and off the field of play, paving the way for a more equal and inclusive society. The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be the first ever gender-balanced Olympic Games in history and the Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will see a record number of female competitors at Paralympic Games. Read the full news release here.
On International Women’s Day, World Athletics launched #WeGrowAthletics, a campaign designed to build on the momentum the sport has built up in terms of greater gender equality. As part of the launch, World Athletics is making a number of pledges to commit to further advance the role of girls and women in athletics in three core areas of the sport – empowering women in leadership positions, breaking with traditions and shining a spotlight on women’s stories across its platforms. Full details here.
During a virtual meeting, the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed and International Association Football Federation (FIFA) President Gianni Infantino, exchanged views on shared priorities and the importance of urgent actions and commitments to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. The call, which took place on 8 March, was an opportunity to reflect on the role of the sport in advancing gender equality and building better mechanisms to protect from abuse and marginalisation. News release here.
The International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) has announced that the UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Cup Final will now take place in Hungary instead of Korea with the participation of 72 athletes. The dates (13 to 16 May) remain unchanged. The UIPM Executive Board voted to relocate the penultimate Olympic qualification event from Seoul to Budapest due to strict quarantine rules in Korea. Hungary will host three key competitions in 2021 – the other two being the UIPM Pentathlon World Cup (March 24–28) and the new Modern Pentathlon format test event (April 22-25). More details here.
On International Women’s Day, World Rugby awarded 12 new Women’s Executive Leadership Scholarships, thus reconfirming its commitment and investment in the acceleration of women’s access to leadership positions in rugby. This scholarship programme is open to women in rugby who are currently involved at governance or senior management level, or have the potential to be a senior manager or union/regional association board member in the sport within two years. Full info here.
To mark International Women’s Day, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) launched a new Leadership Development Programme as part of its Advantage All strategy. The programme will see more than 100 women from national tennis federations around the world provided with networking and mentoring opportunities, as well as practical support and advice to help them overcome barriers and have fulfilling careers. This launch followed the announcement of a new global forum, ‘Level the Playing Field’. The 12 April event will bring together influential and inspirational individuals from sport and business to debate and advance gender equality. Full details here.
The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has announced the full composition of its Athletes’ Commission, following the appointment of the remaining five members by the FIVB Board of Administration. For the 2021-2024 period, the Commission will now be composed of five elected and five appointed members. Additionally, the Commission will have equal gender representation amongst its membership, and the same number of representatives from volleyball and beach volleyball. Full details here. In addition, the FIVB has announced that the city of Rimini (Italy) will host the women’s and men’s Volleyball Nations League (VNL) 2021. More info here.
On the occasion of International Women’s Day, United World Wrestling (UWW) looked back on the promotion of women’s wrestling over the last eight years. With an eye to achieving total gender equality, the UWW has implemented a vision whereby wrestling should be 50-50 male/female participation at the Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026. Furthermore, with more attention to quotas and educating the national federations on the benefits of sending female leaders on educational and professional development programmes, the opportunities for women have flourished. In addition, since 2015 wrestling has also recognised powerful leaders in the women’s wrestling community through the “Women’s Prize Award”. More details here.
national olympic committees
To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, the Albanian NOC organised a webinar entitled “Women in Sports, yesterday and today”, which was broadcast live on the NOC’s media channels. The webinar brought together around 20 participants including Olympians, coaches and physical education teachers, who were greeted by Acting NOC President Vojo Malo. The meeting emphasised the importance of equal opportunities and women’s involvement in sports, and raised awareness of the role and engagement of women in sport. The meeting’s recommendations stressed the importance of implementing policies to support the participation of women in sports, management, and leadership. Info at www.nocalbania.org.al
The President of the NOC of Algeria, Abderrahmane Hammad (left on the photo) officially presented the 2020 IOC “Women and Sport” trophy for Africa to Salima Souakri (centre), Secretary of State for elite sport, at a reception held on 8 March to celebrate International Women’s Day. Sid Ali Khaldi, Minister for Youth and Sport, also attended the ceremony. More info here.
On 8 March, International Women’s Day, a sculpture to honour Alice Milliat, founder of the International Women’s Sport Federation and the Women’s World Games, was unveiled at the headquarters of the French NOC. A number of prominent figures were present at the ceremony, presided over by NOC President Denis Masseglia, including Jean-Michel Blanquer, minister for national education, youth and sports; Roxana Maracineanu, sports minister; IOC members Guy Drut and Tony Estanguet, who is also President of Paris 2024. The IOC President sent a video message praising the role and the legacy of Alice Milliat as well as the NOC initiative by paying her tribute. The statue of Alice Milliat stands in the entrance to the building, alongside that of Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games. More info here.
A record number of coaches across the sporting spectrumhave responded to the call of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA) in respect of a high-level coachingcourse, which will be delivered by Panam Sports in partnership with the Canadian Coaching Association. Over 70 stakeholders have registered to pursue the course, which will cover coaching philosophy and leadership, advanced performance planning, strength and conditioning, sports psychology, and advanced injury prevention, among other topics. More details here. On 8 March, the JOA invited people to join in its week-long celebration of phenomenal women while also saluting their courage to “Choose to Challenge”.
“Sport is not the problem, but part of the solution in the pandemic”. Under this motto, the Liechtenstein Olympic Committee launched a video exercise campaign in cooperation with various local partners. With the launch of the “Move together – with distance” programme, ideas for fun and varied sporting activities are shared through short videos on social media, with the aim of motivating the population of Liechtenstein to engage in sporting activity despite the current situation. In their free time, children and young people created short videos (max. 50 seconds) illustrating their ideas on the topic of “where and how to do sport”, with clips on their favourite online fitness programmes, exercises they currently like to do, or activities offered by their own clubs. Info at www.olympic.li
Naidan Tuvshinbayar, Mongolian NOC President and Ts. Sharavjamts, Chairman of the State Committee for Physical Education and Sport, signed a Memorandum of Cooperation during a ceremony held at the Central Sports Gymnasium. The two organisations have committed to establishing a closer and more productive collaboration in the interests of further sports development and a successful participation in the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
On 4 March the NOC of Morocco organised an information meeting at its headquarters for the Moroccan sports federations involved in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The aim of the meeting was to discuss preparations for the Games, and to provide further information on the anti-Covid-19 measures put in place by the IOC and the Tokyo 2020 organising committee. The NOC will also host remote meetings with athletes who have qualified or who are currently qualifying for the Games, to pass on more details about the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. More info here. The NOC also hosted a webinar on the role of the athletes’ commission on 3 March. More info here.
The Spanish NOC’s commission for sustainability, cooperation and integration held a remote meeting on 10 March. The meeting, chaired by NOC President Alejandro Blanco, included a report on the commission’s activity in the context of the NOC’s sustainability policy. In 2017 the Spanish NOC signed up to the Spanish chapter of the United Nations Global Compact, and it has also ratified the UN “Sports for Climate Action” framework agreement. In addition, the Spanish NOC is the world’s first sports organisation to be certified by Bureau Veritas (a world leader in testing, inspection and certification), confirming that the body’s corporate social responsibility actions are consistent with the UN’s sustainable development goals. More details here.
Olympic wrestling champion Taha Akgül was a special guest on the Turkish Olympic Committee’s (TOC) Sports Culture and Olympic Education Project (OLI) which was streamed live to more than 600 children on 5 March. The programme allows children to take part in a series of educational classes, focusing on key areas such as fair play, healthy eating, environmental awareness and the Olympic Games. Due to COVID-19, the sessions are being held online so that children can continue to benefit from this project, which has reached more than two million school kids since 2006. More details here.
On 8 March the NOC of Venezuela hosted its 4th conference on women in sport. Experts, celebrities and sports leaders met in person and online to review the progress, achievements and challenges of women in sport. Among the subjects discussed was the participation of women in the Olympic Games and the impact of the pandemic on women in society. It is worth noting that there are currently 16 women presidents of national sports federations in Venezuela. More info here. In addition, with 134 days remaining before the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, leaders of the Venezuelan delegation to the Games met representatives of all the national sports federations whose athletes had already qualified, or were in the process of qualifying, for Tokyo. Full details here.
Organising Committees for the Olympic Games
The Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Paris 2024 is continuing its efforts to engage with the entire sports movement by extending its “Terre de Jeux 2024” label to 10 federations of sports not on the programme of these Games and to associate members of the French NOC and the French Paralympic Committee. Full details here.
milano cortina 2026
On Saturday 6 March, a global online vote was launched to decide which of two potential emblems will be chosen for the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026. Over the next two weeks, people across the world can vote via www.milanocortina2026.org and the Milano Cortina 2026 app. The winning Olympic emblem will then be announced in a special episode of “Soliti Ignoti” by Italy’s Olympic broadcaster Rai shortly afterwards. The two emblems, entitled “Dado” and “Futura” (see photo), were revealed during Italy’s Sanremo Music Festival. Full news release here.
On 8 March, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) revealed the winners of the 2021 International Women’s Day Recognition awards: Kate Caithness, President of the World Curling Federation (WCF) in the Builder category; Iranian Para archer Zahra Nemati in the Next Generation Leader category; and World Para Powerlifting in the National Paralympic Committee/IF category (see photo). The winners were selected by the IPC’s Women in Sport Committee, chaired by Rita van Driel. Full details here.
Play True Day 2021 will take place on 9 April under the theme “What does Play True mean to you?” Since 2014, in April of every year, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the anti-doping community worldwide have celebrated ‘Play True Day’ – a day dedicated to clean sport, intended to raise awareness among athletes, the sporting public and others about the importance of protecting clean sport. More info here. In addition, the WADA has recently published its 2020 Code Compliance Annual Report. More info here.