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21 Mar 2016
IOC News

Olympic Highlights



IOC President Thomas Bach made his first official visit to North Africa from 12 to 15 March, visiting Tunis (Tunisia), Algiers (Algeria) and Rabat (Morocco). IOC Honorary Member and ANOCA President, Lassana Palenfo, joined the IOC delegation for the whole visit.

© IOC / Greg Martin

On the first leg of his journey in Tunisia, the IOC President shared the solidarity of the Olympic Movement with the country’s state officials as the country was again struck by terrorist attacks. He assured the President of Tunisia, Beji Caïd Essebsi, Prime Minister Habib Essid and Parliamentary Speaker Mohamed Ennaceur that the Olympic family stood by the Tunisian people in these difficult times. The IOC President held lengthy discussions with the political leaders about how sport can contribute to preventing young people from taking the wrong path. The President also took part in the Tunisian NOC’s Executive Board meeting and General Assembly. This was an opportunity for President Bach to congratulate NOC President Mehrez Boussayene and his colleagues on the work accomplished over the past few years to prepare athletes for the Olympic Games, as well as in implementing projects helping Libyan refugee children in the south of the country, and encouraging girls to practise a physical activity. The President had the opportunity to go and meet young athletes at the ceremony for laying the first stone of the future Tunisian NOC headquarters. Read the full press release here.

© IOC / Greg Martin

In Algiers, the IOC President applauded the efforts of the Algerian NOC, under the leadership of its President, Mustapha Berraf, to roll out concrete projects such as identifying and training talented young athletes, developing an Olympic schools programme and the systematic inclusion of women in the NOC’s decision-making meetings. He also underlined the NOC’s excellent relationship with the government, collaboration discussed during a meeting with Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal. The Prime Minister assured the IOC of his government’s support by providing the means needed to develop sports facilities in the country and by ensuring that sport has a key position in the school curriculum. Another symbolic moment of the President’s visit was the laying of the first stone of the Olympic Academy and Museum in Algiers. During his visit, President Bach was accompanied by IOC Honorary Member in Algeria Mustapha Larfaoui and Algerian Olympic medallists. Read the full press release here.

© IOC / Greg Martin

The IOC President ended his visit in Rabat. Accompanied by IOC Vice-President Nawal El Moutawakel, President Bach attended the Moroccan National Olympic Committee Executive Board meeting, which was chaired by NOC President Housni Benslimane as well as a meeting with national Olympic sports federations. Discussions on the agenda included the preparation of Moroccan athletes for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and the need to protect clean athletes, as well as the programmes developed by the NOC to promote the Olympic values among the country’s young people. These themes were also addressed with the Moroccan Prime Minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, during a cordial and fruitful exchange. The IOC President was informed about the implementation of a law aiming to strengthen the fight against doping on a national level. It was also agreed during these discussions that a meeting would take place soon in Lausanne between the IOC, the NOC and the Moroccan government to establish a road map for the development of sport in Morocco in compliance with the rules of good governance and the Olympic Charter. The highlight of the visit was meeting the young Moroccan athletes training at the Prince Moulay Rachid National Sports Centre in preparation for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. Read the full press release here.

Back in Lausanne, the IOC President met the President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), Francesco Ricci Bitti, and its Executive Director Andrew Ryan, to discuss the forthcoming SportAccord Convention, which will take place in Lausanne in mid-April.

President Bach held discussions with the President of the International Fencing Federation (FIE), Alisher Usmanov, on the topic of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and preparations for the Olympic fencing tournament.

The President of the World Dance Sport Federation (WDSF), Lukas Kinder, paid a visit to the IOC President to talk about implementation of the recommendations of the Olympic Agenda 2020, particularly in terms of the Olympic programme.

Meetings also took place with IOC Members Denis Oswald, Philip Craven, Octavian Morariu and Alexander Zhukov.


Nicole Hoevertsz, a member of the IOC Women in Sport Commission, led an IOC delegation to the 60th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. CSW60 is being held in New York from 12 to 24 March, with “Women’s empowerment and its link to sustainable development” as its priority theme, and the review theme of “The elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls”. Speaking during the general debates on 18 March, Nicole Hoevertsz reminded the importance of sport in promoting gender equality and empowering women and girls, and called for more cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 5. (See also under Commissions.)


© PyeongChang 2018

The Coordination Commission for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 wrapped up its sixth visit to Korea confident that PyeongChang 2018 is moving in the right direction as Games preparations intensify in the final two years. At a closing news conference with PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee (POCOG) President Yang-ho Cho, Coordination Commission Chair Gunilla Lindberg expressed satisfaction with construction progress at competition venues and congratulated Games organisers on the success of early test events. The Coordination Commission’s three-day visit (14–16 March) included a series of venue visits and discussions with POCOG on all aspects of Games preparations, including the athlete experience, legacy planning, sustainability and transport, as well as plans for the Paralympic Games. Read the full press release here. (See also under Organising Committees of Olympic Games.)

Alexander Zhukov (right) and Guo Jinlong. © Getty Images

In a visit that established a good foundation for future collaboration, an IOC delegation met with the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee on 16 March for the first Project Review of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. The day-long session confirmed that Beijing 2022 is off to a fast start, supported by a team with significant experience from the 2008 Games. Beijing 2022 pledged to work closely with the IOC, winter sports International Federations and outside experts to build on the growing winter sports expertise in China. In addition to legacy and sustainability, the Project Review focused on five other key areas in the initial stage of Games preparations: governance, sport, commercial partnerships, communications, and venues and infrastructure. IOC Coordination Commission Chair Alexander Zhukov and Beijing 2022 Organising Committee (BOCOG) President Guo Jinlong set the tone for the review with a preparatory meeting on Wednesday. Both came to their new roles with strong relevant experience. Read the full press release here.

© UN Women / Ryan Brown

In connection with the UN’s CSW60 the IOC and its Women in Sport Commission, in collaboration with UN Women and the Brazilian government, is organising a side event entitled “2030 Agenda – the contribution of sport to achieve gender equality and end violence against women and girls”. In her opening address, Nicole Hoevertsz (right), member of the Commission, highlighted the sustainable legacy that the forthcoming Games in Rio will leave thanks to the work of the Brazilian government to empower women and girls. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, as well as Antonio de Aguiar Patriota, Brazil’s Permanent Representative to the UN and Chair of the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, were present. Read the full press release here.

During its meeting in Lausanne the Olympic Programme Commission, chaired by Franco Carraro, looked at the composition of the Olympic programme for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The Audit Committee held a meeting in Lausanne, chaired by Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant.


© IOC / Getty Images

Seven months after fleeing the Syrian capital of Damascus, Syrian refugee swimmer Yusra Mardini (see photo above) is hoping to qualify for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and join the Team of Refugee Olympic Athletes (ROA). The 18-year-old, who represented Syria at the short-course World Championships in Turkey in 2012, fled the conflict in her home country along with her sister, Sarah, in August 2015, and now resides in Germany. Speaking at a news conference in Berlin on 18 March, Yusra said that the chance to reach the Olympic Games is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that not many others get, so she is determined to work hard to achieve her dream. “I want refugees to be proud of me. I want to encourage them”, she said. Mardini is hoping to be a part of the ROA team – which will be treated at the Games like all the other teams of the 206 NOCs – after being created by the IOC Executive Board earlier this month. Members of the ROA team must reach specific sporting standards and have official refugee status verified by the United Nations, but will enjoy the same Olympic experience as the athletes of other NOCs, including their own welcoming ceremony at the Rio 2016 Olympic Village. Read the full press release here.

The IOC and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have announced that selected samples from the Olympic Games London 2012 and Beijing 2008 are being reanalysed ahead of this summer’s Games in Rio de Janeiro, in another initiative aimed at protecting clean athletes. At the request of and funded by the IOC, WADA has also set up a task force to gather information and intelligence, identify any gaps in pre-Games testing and coordinate any extra testing that may be needed through the IFs, National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADOs) and, if necessary, WADA itself. The WADA-run task force, which is coordinating intelligence-gathering with the NADOs of Australia, Denmark, Japan, South Africa, the UK and USA, will identify athletes or groups of athletes who should be included in registered testing pools, and those whom the IOC should test during the four-week period of the Olympic Games Rio 2016. See complete press release here.



The Central Board of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has announced that the U17 World Championships for men and women will take place in Zaragoza (Spain), and Cairo (Egypt) will host the 2017 U19 World Championships. This will be FIBA’s first ever world youth event to be held in Africa. Also in 2017, the Italian cities of Udine and Cividale Del Friuli will host the FIBA U19 Women’s World Championship. More info on


On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) made its #PledgeForParity to call for gender-balanced leadership. One of the areas the FIH is targeting is top-level coaching, where it is introducing a Women in Elite Coaching Project, to run during the Women’s Hockey Champions Trophy in London (Great Britain) next June. The project’s long-term aim is to increase the number of women coaching within the top 12 nations. This is a key part of the FIH's 10-year strategy – the Hockey Revolution – one key focus of which is to increase the degree of professionalism in all areas of the sport. Four women who already hold high-profile positions within hockey gave their thoughts on why there aren’t more women following their lead, click here for more info. In addition, the FIH ran a Twibbon campaign across social media. It asked fans, athletes and various other organisations to make their own #PledgeForParity on the day. The Twibbon was used and shared hundreds of times to millions of people across the world. Info at


United World Wrestling (UWW), in partnership with the World Academy of Sport, has launched “Ready to Wrestle”, an online programme designed for sports fans interested in learning more about the history, rules, styles and traditions of international wrestling. The programme, which also provides information on the work of UWW, caters to students, athletes, coaches, referees, event organisers and those interested in testing their knowledge of wrestling and the Olympic Games. The programme is available on the WAS website. More info on

The young and talented swimmer Marcelo Acosta, who has benefited from a Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) scholarship since 2015, became the first swimmer from El Salvador to qualify for the Olympic Games with an “A” cut. Twenty-year-old Acosta won the 1500 m race at the Arena Pro Series in Orlando, Florida (USA), which took place from 3 to 5 March. He also set a new national record and is now in 10th position in the FINA ranking for this event. Acosta will continue to train for the upcoming Olympic Games with the Azura Florida Aquatics Team, with his coach Gianluca Alberani. More info on

World Sailing is satisfied with the progress being made by Rio 2016 and the Brazilian authorities in preparation for the Rio 2016 Olympic & Paralympic Sailing Competition, following an official visit from 7–10 March 2016. Chief Executive Officer Andy Hunt, Technical Delegates Alastair Fox and Scott Perry, Chairman of the Events Committee Pablo Masseroni and Medical Commission representative Nebojša Nikolic met with the Rio 2016 Organising Committee, the City, the State, the State Environment Institute (INEA) and the State Company of Water and Sewage (CEDAE) over the four-day period. The health and safety of sailors competing at Rio 2016 is paramount and World Sailing remains focused on delivering an excellent Olympic sailing competition on a safe and fair field of play. More info on


The International Surfing Association (ISA) is continuing to drive the global development of surfing and stand-up paddle with the certification of more than 1,500 instructors at 150 ISA educational courses which took place across 35 countries during 2015. Further significant development is also expected during 2016 with 200 courses across 40 countries already under way or planned, with a target of certifying a further 2,000 instructors. Overall, more than 5,000 instructors have been certified by the ISA. More info on


© Australian Olympic Committee

On 15 March, 600 students from the Forestville Public School in Sydney were present for the launch of the Australian Olympic Committee’s Olympic education programme for the Olympic Games Rio 2016. Three Olympians were in attendance: 2016 Chef de Mission Kitty Chiller (modern pentathlon, Sydney 2000), Nicola Zagame (bronze medallist, water polo, London 2012) and Jo Brigden-Jones (K4 kayak, London 2012). They shared their stories and Olympic experiences with the children (see photo above). As part of the education programme, teachers around the country will have free access to a multitude of educational activities aimed at encouraging young Australians to participate in sport and showcasing Olympians as community role models. The modules available through the programme include Cheer for a Champ, Village Art, Chat to a Champ, Meet with a Champ and Olympic Day. Chat with a Champ, for instance, gives primary school students the opportunity to webchat with their Olympic heroes. More info on this programme can be found here and on

© Brazil Olympic Committee

The Brazil Olympic Committee (BOC) brought together some athletes who qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games on 13 March at its headquarters in Rio de Janeiro (see photo above). This was the first meeting of the Team Brazil 2016 Integration Programme, the objective of which is to inform the BOC's preparations and promote the exchange of experiences among athletes. Three more meetings will be held before the start of the 2016 Games next August. Team Brazil's athletes participated in various talks and presentations on the BOC's Mission for the Games, Olympic Village, Team Brazil Space, logistics, transport, training and support areas, uniforms and ceremonies. So far, Brazil has secured 408 spots. More info on

© NOC of Belarus

According to the press service of the NOC of Belarus, the winners of “The Olympic flame ignites the heart” competition for orphans and physically challenged children were rewarded as part of the seeing-off ceremony of the Belarusian sports delegation to the Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016 (see photo above). More than 1500 entries were received for the competition organised by the NOC. The aim of the contest was to introduce young people to the ideals and values of the Olympic movement through creativity, popularisation of sport and a healthy lifestyle, as well as the implementation of one of the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter – combining sport with culture and education. The jury selected winners in two categories: “Fire of Hope” and “Fire of Inspiration”. More info on

© NOC of Chile

On 7 March, at the first meeting of the council of delegates of the federations affiliated to the NOC of Chile, Chilean Olympic Academy President Jamie Agliati (right) was awarded the 2016 IOC Sport and Innovation Trophy for his travelling museum concept, soon to be opened to the public. The trophy was presented by NOC President Neven Ilic Alvarez (left). The aim of the museum is to increase awareness of the Olympic values throughout the country, using an inflatable dome that can hold up to 45 visitors. A 3D animated film explains the history of the Olympic Games, from Antiquity to modern times, and gives information on the participation of Chilean athletes in the Games. More info on

At the sixth meeting of its administration and finance committee on 15 March the Colombian NOC agreed to the release of nearly USD 200’000. The money will be channelled into preparing athletes for their participation in qualification tournaments for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and other competitions. Additional support has been allocated to federations whose sports are not on the Olympic programme.

© Costarican NOC

To mark World Kidney Day on 10 March Costa Rica’s National Children’s Hospital and the Costa Rican NOC joined forces to give hundreds of young boys and girls an opportunity to exercise alongside some of Costa Rica’s greatest athletes. Nearly 45 children from various regions of the country between the ages of 7 and 12 left the hospital to take martial arts lessons, ride bicycles and go roller-skating, an amazing experience for them (see photo above). The aim was to encourage the children to take part in sport and physical exercise, with a view to keeping them fit and healthy enough to face transplants or other health issues. Their parents were able to attend a lecture on the psychological and social benefits of sport for children and teenagers, given by NOC psychologist Laura Moreira. More info on

© Ecuadorean NOC

On 10 March, 48 Ecuadorian athletes (see photo above) attended a workshop to help them prepare for professional life, organised by the Ecuadorian NOC as part of a programme set up by the IOC Athletes’ Commission. The workshop took place in Guayaquil and was led by international instructors Mauricio Rivas (Colombia, fencing) and Mónica Real (Mexico, taekwondo), who shared their experience through presentations and group discussions. Two of the athletes present have already qualified for the Olympic Games Rio 2016: Lenín Preciado and Marina Pérez. NOC Vice-President Miguel Nacer was also present. Info on

© Spanish NOC

On 15 March a ceremony took place at the headquarters of the Spanish NOC in Madrid, to honour athletes who took part in the summer and winter Olympic Games in 1968 (Mexico City and Grenoble) and 1972 (Munich and Sapporo) (see photo above). NOC President Alejandro Blanco and the President of the International Canoe Federation (ICF), IOC Member José Perurena, thanked all the athletes for having represented Spain at these four Olympic Games, and for the values they embodied. Diplomas were awarded to mark the event. More info on

CEO of the Hype Foundation, Amir Raveh (l.) with Gili Lustig. © Israeli Olympic Committee

141 days out from the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the Hype Foundation launched its latest project in collaboration with the Israeli Olympic Committee: the Innovation for Sports Global Awards. The global competition campaign will start on 25 March and will include eight regional competitions that will be held in different countries around the world. The finals will take place in Rio during the Olympic Games. Each regional competition winner will win a ticket to the finals in Rio. The national competition finals will be held at the NOC headquarters. The Jury Committee will include NOC President Igal Carmi, coach Avraham Grant, Dr Kobi Richter, NOC Chief Executive Gili Lustig and the Scientific Director of the Hype Foundation, Gilad Weingarten. More info on

© Venezuelan NOC

The Venezuelan NOC held its first administration course recently at its Caracas headquarters, with the participation of more than twenty national federation representatives (see photo above). The participants were welcomed by NOC Secretary General Elida Párraga. The aim of the course, organised through Olympic Solidarity’s training programme for sports leaders, was to provide basic training in the use of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, with a view to improving and rationalising sports leaders’ work flows.



© PyeongChang 2018

The PyeongChang Organising Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) signed a domestic sponsorship agreement with Lotte Group for the Department Store and Duty Free Store categories. With the signing of this agreement, PyeongChang 2018 has achieved almost 70% of its sponsorship targets. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of POCOG President Yang-ho Cho (centre) and the Chair of the IOC Coordination Commission for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, Gunilla Lindberg (left). More info on


The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), chaired by IOC Executive Board Member Craig Reedie, welcomed a record number of over 500 delegates from around the world to its 12th Anti-Doping Organisation (ADO) Symposium, to discuss the way forward for protecting clean athletes. The event, which ran in Lausanne from 14 to 16 March, attracted anti-doping experts from International Sport Federations, National Anti-Doping Organisations, Regional Anti-Doping Organisations, Major Games Organisers, WADA-accredited laboratories and other stakeholders, as well as over 50 international media – all essential partners in the clean sport movement. As partnership and quality practices under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code are essential to mounting a successful collaborative campaign for clean sport, the symposium was centred on the theme ‘Partnering for Quality Practice’ and, ultimately, focused delegates on clean athletes and the ways and means of protecting their right to clean sport. Info at

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