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Olympic Highlights 29/03/2021

IOC / Greg Martin IOC / Greg Martin
29 Mar 2021
Olympic News, Olympic Highlights, IOC News



Following the conclusion of our Japanese partners not to allow overseas spectators at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this summer, and the requirement from the Japanese government for a very significant reduction in the numbers of accredited participants, the IOC Executive Board (EB) took a number of decisions during its remote meeting on 26 March. In order to comply with these conclusions and requests, the IOC EB decided to grant accreditation only to people who have essential and operational roles. IOC Members as the ultimate decision-making body of the IOC are playing such an essential and operational role and will attend the Games. However, the IOC EB has cancelled or reduced the IOC Guest Programme, the invitations to Olympic athlete legends and a number of other programmes. It will also not grant accreditation to any accompanying guest in any category. Read the full news release here.

European Union, 2021

On 24 March, IOC President Thomas Bach was in Brussels, Belgium, for a series of meetings with top leaders of the European Union, including European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Accompanied by IOC Director General Christophe De Kepper, he discussed a range of issues with her, including the values- and solidarity-based European Sports Model and its contribution to European society. They also spoke about the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 this summer and all the other upcoming Olympic Games, two of which, the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026, will take place in Europe. President Bach informed her about the very strict COVID-19 countermeasures being implemented ahead of and during the Games in Tokyo, and the overall IOC policy with regard to the vaccination of participants. In this connection, the IOC President informed her that a significant number of Olympic teams had already been vaccinated, and others had received commitments from their governments, in line with their respective national vaccination guidelines.

President Bach also met the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, who is in charge of the European vaccination programme. He informed the IOC President about the EU vaccination strategy and the increasing availably of vaccines in the coming months.

With EU Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel, President Bach discussed the European Sports Model, which is fully supported by the Commissioner. She emphasised that this model should be fully reflected in the EU Work Plan for Sport 2021 to 2024. Another important topic of their conversation was the Olympic Agenda 2020+5 reforms, which were recently approved by the 137th IOC Session.

With EU Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, the IOC President and Director General also discussed the European Sports Model and the forthcoming conference on the Future of Europe. The EU Commission Vice-President expressed his full support for the European Sports Model.

President Bach and Director General De Kepper later met Michel Barnier, the European Commission's former Head of Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom, who is a member of the IOC Sustainability and Legacy Commission and was Co-President of the Organising Committee for the Olympic Winter Games Albertville 1992. With him, they discussed in depth sustainability and legacy aspects of the organisation of the Olympic Games as well as the European Sports Model, of which Mr Barnier is a great promoter.

At the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch Relay in Japan on 25 March, President Bach sent the IOC’s congratulations to the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Japanese people for this achievement, and said: “Inspired by the Olympic values of peace and solidarity, the Olympic Torch Relay will carry Tokyo 2020’s message, ‘Hope lights our way’, across Japan and the world. It will also acknowledge the challenges faced by society since last year, highlighting the importance of unity and solidarity within humankind, showing that we can only become stronger – together.” Full news release here. (See also under the “Organising Committees for the Olympic Games” section.)

President Bach held telephone consultations with the NOCs and the Olympic Summer and Winter IFs. They discussed the Olympic Agenda 2020+5 and the latest developments regarding the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 were also discussed.

There was also a fruitful telephone consultation with athlete representatives where they discussed the 15 recommendations that make up Olympic Agenda 2020+5 and how they will affect athletes. They also discussed the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

In a video conference, President Bach and the President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), Francesco Ricci-Bitti, discussed the upcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the situation of the IFs.

The IOC President and EB member Ivo Ferriani, who is also the President of the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation (IBSF), addressed a number of Olympic topics and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. 

President Bach also discussed several Olympic matters with IOC Member Uğur Erdener, particularly in relation to the IOC Medical and Scientific Commission.

IOC / Greg Martin

As part of the IOC’s commitment to sustainability, the President received the new Mirai zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell vehicle from Worldwide Olympic Partner Toyota, in presence of Christian Kûnstler, CEO Toyota Switzerland. A refuelling station, powered by renewable energy, has been supplying hydrogen to the IOC fleet since December 2019.

international federations

summer ifs

For the very first time in its history, World Athletics is reaching out to the entire international athletics community to participate in a global conversation about the future of the sport. World Athletics has committed to developing a World Plan for Athletics 2022-2030 in consultation with its member federations and other key interest groups, including athletes, coaches, officials, fans, schools, meeting directors, partners and media. The World Plan will be a key document for all those involved in the sport, setting out a roadmap for the growth and development of athletics through to 2030. Full details here.


Japanese judoka Toshihiko Koga (photo), an Olympic champion and three-time world champion, died on 24 March at the age of 53. He took part in three editions of the Games (Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996), winning gold in Barcelona and silver in Atlanta. He was also world champion in 1989, 1991 and 1995. Koga was renowned in the judo world for his technical creativity, with his legendary ippon-seoi-nage, his morote-seoi-nage with one hand and his sode-tsuri-komi-goshi with the reverse entry. Read the report sur on the International Judo Federation (IJF) website.

On 24 March, World Triathlon launched the 2021 Athlete Scholarship Programme. This Programme is intended to identify and provide support, resources and expertise to athletes from developing or emerging National Federations (NFs) with the greatest needs, in order to help them compete at continental and world level over the Olympic qualification period and help their preparation and qualification for the upcoming Olympic Games and beyond. The athletes will be drawn primarily from the U23 and elite ranks, but junior athletes can also be considered as part of the next generation for the future. Full info here.

national olympic committees
Hong Kong, China NOC

 Timothy Tsun Ting Fok, IOC Member and President of the Hong Kong, China NOC has signed a letter of recognition to recognise the Hong Kong Olympians Association and certify that the two organisations work in cooperation to support and promote Olympism and the fundamental values that are enshrined in the Olympic Charter. More info at

The Hungarian Olympic Committee has announced that major international sports events crucial for Olympic qualification for Tokyo 2020 Games in several sports were successfully hosted in Hungary in recent weeks. The events were in fencing, handball, wrestling and modern pentathlon. Full details here.


Kiyoko Ono, an Olympic medallist in gymnastics and former Vice-President of the Japanese NOC, died in mid-March at the age of 85. She was the wife of five-time Olympic champion Takashi Ono. Having competed in the Olympic Games Rome 1960, Kiyoko Ono went on to win team bronze four years later at the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964 (photo). This remains Japan’s only Olympic women’s gymnastics medal. After retiring from sport, Ono entered public office, and she was elected to the House of Councillors in 1986. In 2003, she became the first woman to head the National Public Safety Commission, and she was also the first female Vice-President of the Japanese NOC. In 2016, Ono received the Olympic Order in recognition of her contribution to the Olympic Movement.   

Olympic Committee of Sao Tome and Principe

The Olympic Committee of Sao Tome and Principe, in partnership with the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Entrepreneurship, organised the first National Forum on Sport from 10 to 12 March. The Prime Minister presided over the opening ceremony, which was attended by the President of the National Assembly, the Minister for Education and Higher Education, the Minister for Tourism and Culture, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Representative, the President of the Cape Verde NOC, the National Federations and physical education teachers. Several topics were discussed during the Forum, including sport at school, community and military sport, Olympism and Olympic education, tourism and environmental sustainability in sport, the financing of sport, and elite and high performance. Based on the recommendations of the Forum, Sao Tome and Principe will, through a multi-sectoral team to be created for this purpose, draft a strategic plan for the development of sport in the country, which will involve two Olympiads, running from 2021 to 2028.

Spanish NOC

The latest athletes to receive scholarships to San Antonio de Murcia Catholic University (UCAM) were recently welcomed to the headquarters of the Spanish NOC. The Minister for Culture and Sport, José Manuel Rodríguez, NOC President Alejandro Blanco and UCAM President José Luis Mendoza were in attendance to receive the 37 new scholarship-holders. More info here. In addition, the NOC has launched a new initiative entitled “On the road to Olympus: past and present, building the future” (Camino al Olimpo: pasado y presente, construyendo futuro), whereby Olympic medallists and athletes who are dreaming of winning medals in Tokyo will come together at the NOC headquarters. There will be a series of seven events (the first was held on 25 March), with one taking place every fortnight. The initiative will see former athletes encourage and support athletes who have already qualified for Tokyo 2020, sharing experiences and first-hand accounts. Full details here.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has opened enrolment for the Team USA Athlete Marketing Platform (AMP) pilot programme, which builds on the USOPC’s commitment to advance empowerment and earning potential for Team USA athletes, following a thoughtful, collaborative process with athletes, NFs, partners and agents. The opt-in, mobile-friendly programme is the first of its kind, and connects athletes directly with Team USA sponsors and licensees. AMP provides athletes with incremental opportunities for revenue generation and marketing exposure, and avenues to elevate their voice, sport and personal brand in an unprecedented six-month window between the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. Over the next few weeks, Team USA athletes, NFs and partners will be onboarded to the platform, and the pilot will officially launch in April. More info at

Organising Committee for the Olympic Games

Tokyo 2020
Tokyo 2020

The Olympic Torch Relay started on 25 March in Fukushima, Japan. The Grand Start of the Relay marked the beginning of the Olympic flame’s journey across all of Japan’s 47 prefectures, before it arrives in Tokyo for the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on 23 July this year.  The Relay began in the J-Village national football training facility in Naraha, Fukushima (photo). The first torchbearers were the Nadeshiko Japan football team, who won the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. They took the flame to the second torchbearer, 16-year-old Fukushima native Owada Asato. It will then continue onwards across the host nation, visiting 859 municipalities en route to its final destination – the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo. Full news release here.

Recognised organisations

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s Athlete Committee (AC) held its first meeting of 2021 via video call in mid-March, chaired by AC Chair Ben Sandford. The members were updated on a variety of current topics by WADA President Witold Bańka and Director General Olivier Niggli, in particular regarding the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the global anti-doping programme. Among other issues discussed were athlete representation as part of WADA’s ongoing governance reforms; the development of a potential strategic plan for the AC; possible next steps for the AC in relation to assessing human rights within anti-doping; and ongoing athlete engagement and information initiatives. More info here.


The International Committee for the Mediterranean Games (ICJM) has announced that the Organising Committee of the Oran 2022 Mediterranean Games has selected the design of the medals which will be awarded during the Games (see photo). The Organising Committee had launched an artistic competition, and the winner is Marwan Khiat, a young designer from Oran. More info here.

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