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03 May 2016
IOC News

Olympic Highlights



On 29 April, the Olympic flame made an historic appearance in Switzerland before making its way to Brazil for the Olympic Torch Relay (OTR) ahead of the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

The flame began the day in Geneva, where it was presented at the United Nations headquarters in a ceremony attended by IOC President Thomas Bach and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In his speech, the IOC President praised the message of hope and peace the Olympic Games and flame symbolises: “The Olympic flame and the Olympic Games are sending the message that our shared humanity is greater than the forces that divide us. In a world shaken by crises, this message is more relevant than ever before.”

Calling the flame “a beacon of solidarity with all peoples of the world,” the UN Secretary-General applauded the IOC’s decision to include a Refugee Olympic Team at this summer’s Olympic Games before speaking of the “warm partnership between the United Nations and the International Olympic Movement” and complementing the IOC on its efforts to place sport at the service of humanity. Full speech here.

The flame was carried into the Palais des Nations by 13-year-old Brazilian Bruna Gabrielle Pitta Portugal. Natália Mayara, a Brazilian Paralympic athlete and 2015 Pan American Games gold medallist in wheelchair tennis, also spoke at the ceremony. Also in attendance were IOC Honorary President, Jacques Rogge; IOC Vice Presidents, Nawal El Moutawakel, John Coates, Zaiqing Yu; IOC Members Prince Albert II of Monaco

and Mario Pescante, also Permanent Observer of the IOC to the United Nations; Michael Møller, Director General of the United Nations Office at Geneva; Wilfried Lemke, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace; Ricardo Leyser, Brazil’s Minister for Sport; Carlos Arthur Nuzman, President of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee and IOC Honorary Member; and Regina Dunlop, Brazil’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office at Geneva and other international organisations in Geneva. During the ceremony, President Bach presented the Olympic Cup to the United Nations, an honour accepted by the UN Secretary-General.

© IOC / Christian Klaue

Following the ceremony at the Palais des Nations, the IOC President welcomed the UN Secretary-General at The Olympic Museum. “I deeply value our personal friendship and the important partnership between our two organisations. I am confident that in the same way, you will help our world move from war to peace”, said the UN Secretary-General during a lunch. The Olympic flame arrived later at The Olympic Museum in an eight-man rowing boat from the Lausanne Sports Aviron club, a nod to the sport much loved by Pierre de Coubertin, the IOC founder and the renovator of the Olympic Games. As President Bach said, Coubertin used to practise rowing on the lake and in particular in Ouchy, close to The Olympic Museum and “he would have been happy to see how the flame arrived at The Museum.” The boat’s crew included Swiss rower Barnabé Delarze, who recently qualified for Rio 2016, and René Libal, who represented the former Czechoslovakia at the Olympic Games Rome 1960. The young Delarze delivered the flame to Rio 2016 President Carlos Arthur Nuzman, who then lit a Rio 2016 cauldron in front of the public and invited dignitaries among which IOC Honorary President, Jacques Rogge; IOC Vice Presidents, Nawal El Moutawakel, John Coates, Zaiqing Yu; IOC Members Denis Oswald, René Fasel and Patrick Baumann; President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations, Francesco Ricci Bitti; State Councillor Philippe Leuba and Mayor of Lausanne Daniel Brélaz. The flame remained on display to the public at The Olympic Museum before heading to Brasilia on 2 May for the start of the OTR.

© IOC / Christophe Moratal

President Bach met the President of the Ugandan NOC, William Frederick Blick, and NOC Secretary General Donald Rukare. The main topic of discussions was the Ugandan delegation’s preparations for the Olympic Games Rio 2016.

© IOC / Greg Martin

The President of the Palestinian NOC, Jibril Mahmoud Muhammad Rajoub, informed the IOC President about a variety of matters connected with the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and the position of sport in his country.

At his meeting with the President of the International Masters Games Association (IMGA), Kai Holm, and its Director General Jens Holm, the President discussed cooperation between the two organisations and the Olympic Agenda 2020 recommendations.

IOC Vice-President John Coates, who chairs the Coordination Commission for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, talked to President Bach about the progress of preparations for the Games, and a range of topics connected with the implementation of Olympic Agenda 2020.

A meeting also took place with IOC Member Frank Fredericks, who was in Lausanne as part of a Working Group for the Evaluation Commission for the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad in 2024, which he chairs (see also “Commissions”).

© IOC / Greg Martin

President Thomas Bach welcomed Hungarian sculptor Gabor Mihaly, who presented a bust of Pierre de Coubertin to the IOC. Mihaly is also the author of the sculpture “Olympia – Cyclists” which is on display in the grounds of the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

© Collège Champittet

President Thomas Bach attended an open day at Champittet College in Lausanne, which is next door to the IOC’s temporary headquarters in Pully. He addressed the young students, and reminded them of the crucial role played by sport in education, and the importance of the Olympic values in society today.


The 2024 Evaluation Commission Working Group concluded four days of meetings to analyse the Candidature Files Part 1: Vision, Games Concept and Strategy of the four cities competing to host the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad in 2024. The IOC President addressed a few words to the members of the Working Group. Meeting in Lausanne from 26 to 29 April, the IOC-appointed Working Group reviewed each of the Stage 1 files submitted in February by Los Angeles (USA), Rome (Italy), Budapest (Hungary) and Paris (France) (Cities are listed in the order of drawing of lots). Composed of IOC advisors and administration members, and led by 2024 Evaluation Commission Chair Frank Fredericks, the Working Group will update the IOC Executive Board (EB) at its next meeting from 1 to 3 June. The Working Group will then provide feedback to the cities via video conference during the second week of June. This will enable the cities to course-correct their respective projects should they so wish. Full press release here.


© Getty Images

Syrian refugee Ibrahim Al-Hussein has carried the Olympic flame through the Eleonas Open Reception Centre in Athens as part of the Rio 2016 torch relay. “It is an honour,” he said. “Twenty-two years I’ve been an athlete and today I’ve reached my dream of being part of the Olympic Games.” The 27-year-old athlete, who arrived in Greece in 2014 having lost family members in war-torn Syria, received the flame from Hellenic Olympic Committee President, Spyros Capralos (photo above) before running through the Eleonas camp for refugees and migrants in the Greek capital. This is the same centre that was visited in January by IOC President Thomas Bach and IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge, who is also UN Special Envoy for Youth Refugees and Sport. The Rio 2016 Olympic torch relay began with the kindling of the Olympic flame in Olympia on 21 April. The flame was then taken on a 6-day journey around Greece, covering a distance of 2,235 km. On 27 April the flame was officially handed over to the organisers of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens. Ibrahim Al-Hussein’s return to the Eleonas refugee centre is particularly symbolic since the announcement in March by the IOC EB that a special team of refugee athletes would be created for Rio 2016. The names of the team members will be announced in early June. Full press release here.


To celebrate 100 days until the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Worldwide TOP Partner Procter & Gamble has debuted the newest instalment of its award-winning “Thank You, Mom” campaign by releasing the new video “Strong”. The new film follows the Olympic Games journeys of four mothers and their children, showing the moments when a mother’s strength makes all the difference, and building to the moment when each child summons their own courage on the world’s biggest sporting stage – the Olympic Games. The critically acclaimed films from P&G’s previous Olympic Games campaigns, “Pick Them Back Up”, “Kids” and “Best Job”, are among the most-viewed Olympic Games videos of all time. Full press release here.



World Rowing (FISA) has announced that some of the top rowing nations in the world will test their Olympic medal potential at the 2016 European Rowing championships, to be held from 6 to 8 May in Brandenburg (Germany). More than 500 athletes from 34 European countries will take part in 17 events (14 Olympic and three international events). More info on

The Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur (AIBA) has informed us that 135 quota places have been allocated over the course of the four Olympic qualification tournaments that took place in March and April 2016. Fifty-one countries are now set to send boxers, both male and female, to Rio next August. Three further opportunities to qualify remain: the Women’s World Boxing Championships in Astana (Kazakhstan) from 19 to 27 May (12 berths); the AOB World Olympic Qualification Event (AIBA Open Boxing) in Azerbaijan from 14 to 26 June and the APB-WSB Olympic Qualification Tournament in July. In total, 286 boxers will take part in the Rio Games. More info on

348 gymnasts from 60 countries took part in the Rio 2016 gymnastics test event from 16 to 22 April at the Rio Olympic Arena. The competition provided one final opportunity for gymnasts to secure qualification for the forthcoming Olympic Games. On 26 April the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) released an updated list of those countries and gymnasts that had qualified for the Games in the artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline events. More info on


On 21 April, the day the Olympic flame was lit in Olympia, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) launched SAMBA STICKS, a campaign to celebrate hockey in Rio. Between now and the Rio Games, the campaign will bring hockey fans competitions and team news. The Olympic hockey tournament will take place from 6 to 19 August in the Deodoro Olympic Park. Participating teams, continental federations and athletes are all involved in the campaign. More info on

The Olympic Water Polo Test Event took place in the brand-new Olympic Aquatics Stadium from 26-29 April, helping to ensure that the venue is ready to host the Olympic water polo tournaments (men and women). This event concluded the series of test events that were conducted across the five Olympic aquatic disciplines governed by the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA). The Olympic Aquatics Stadium will host the Olympic swimming competitions from 6 to 13 August and all the water polo matches as of August 14. Prior to this date, the games will be played at the Maria Lenk venue. More info at

The International Triathlon Union (ITU), presided over by IOC member Marisol Casado, announced it had signed a development grant contract with the African Triathlon Union (ATU) with the aim of supporting the activation of national federations, as well as providing new and emerging federations with resources for development. ATU President Ahmed Nasser presented a plan to use the funds offered by the ITU to organise courses and championship races in Ghana, Tanzania, Sudan, Tunisia, Niger, Gambia, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire and Algeria. The ATU will also organise two athlete development camps as well as offering Level 1 and 2 courses for technical officials. More info on


© Bahrain Olympic Committee

More than 3000 children from 24 public and private schools are taking part in the 3rd School Mini Olympics from 21 April to 5 May. Organised by the Bahrain Olympic Committee (BOC) in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, the event features nine sports events. The opening ceremony staged in Riffa was attended by Hayat bint Abdulaziz Al Khalifa, BOC board member and chair of the women’s sport committee. She lit the ceremony torch before officially opening the event (see photo above). The ceremony programme also featured music shows and performances by students. More info on

© Brazilian NOC

With 100 days to go to the Olympic Games Rio 2016 the Brazilian NOC has launched a “Mascot dance challenge”. On 27 April Team Brazil posted a video on their Facebook and Instagram pages, inviting other NOCs to join in and “move like Ginga”, the team’s jaguar mascot (see photo). Several NOCs have already taken up the challenge with their own team mascots. Info on

© Colombian NOC

The Colombian NOC celebrated 100 days to the start of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 with a press conference giving details of the competition that will determine the Colombian delegation’s flag-bearer for the Games. NOC President Baltazar Medina and NOC Vice-President and Chef de Mission Ciro Solano Hurtado were present at the event alongside representatives of national sports federations and the media. Guests included some of the Colombian athletes who have already qualified for the Rio Games (see photo above). Meanwhile, the Constitutional Committee VII of the Colombian Chamber of Deputies recently approved draft law 104, which regulates the profession of sports coach in the country. The initiative is being sponsored by the Colombian NOC and the Colombian Association for sports, physical education and leisure faculties (Arcofader). More info on

© Spanish NOC

To mark 100 days before the start of the Olympic Games Rio 2016, a countdown clock was unveiled outside the Spanish NOC headquarters in Madrid on 27 April. Among those present at the ceremony were NOC President Alejandro Blanco Bravo, the President of the Supreme Sports Council, Miguel Cardenal Carro, Olympic sports federation presidents and around 20 athletes from the Olympic Sports Association (ADO). On the same day, tennis player Rafael Nadal, who won the Olympic singles title at the 2008 Games in Beijing, was named as the Spanish delegation’s flag-bearer, while NOC sports director Cayetano Cornet was appointed Chef de Mission for the third time running. More info on

© Guatemalan NOC

On 26 April the Guatemalan NOC organised a celebration of 101 days to the opening of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 with the Brazilian Embassy. The event, which took place at the Palacio de Deportes in Guatemala City, focused on athletes who have already qualified for the Games, including Jaime Quiyuch, José Raymundo, Maritza Poncio, Mayra Herrera, Luis Ángel Sánchez and Ana Sofía Gómez (see photo above). Also in attendance were NOC President Gerardo Aguirre, the President of the Guatemala Autonomous Sports Confederation, Denis Alonzo, IOC member Willi Kaltschmitt Luján, the Brazilian ambassador to Guatemala, João Luiz de Barros Pereira Pinto, and representatives of TOP Partners McDonald’s and Samsung. Guatemala’s participation in the Olympic Games Rio 2016 will be its 14th appearance. More info on

© Olympic Council of Ireland

With 100 days to go today until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Olympic Council of Ireland (OCI) has named double Olympic bronze medallist in boxing Paddy Barnes (pictured left) as its flag bearer to lead Team Ireland’s delegation during the Opening Ceremony on 5 August. The OCI also hosted a Team Ireland media day in Dublin, with the participation of OCI President and IOC EB Member Patrick Joseph Hickey (right), Kevin Kilty, Team Ireland’s Rio 2016 Chef de Mission, and John Treacy, CEO of Sport Ireland. More info on

© Israeli Olympic Committee

The Israeli Olympic Committee has implemented the "Olympic Values Education Programme" among 6000 students in 60 schools across Israel. As part of the programme, the first Olympic Day of "Hand in Hand” at the Centre for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel took place at the beginning of April, in honour of the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (see photo above). 150 students from three bilingual schools in Galilee, Jerusalem and Wadi Ara competed in short- and long-distance running, long jump, high jump and shot put. Significantly, this event was initiated, planned and carried out by the students, who demonstrated how sport can build bridges and foster peace. More info on

© Jordan Olympic Committee

The Jordan Olympic Committee celebrated 100 days to the Olympic Games Rio 2016 by launching a campaign entitled “Smile Like a Winner” (see photo above). The aim is to garner support for Team Jordan and raise awareness of the global celebration. The campaign will tour Jordan over the coming weeks, offering the general public an opportunity to win prizes by taking part in a sporting challenge. Fans are also invited to show their support by posting cheering pictures and selfies on Facebook. More info on

© Nepal Olympic Committee

On Sunday 24 April the Nepal Olympic Committee organised an Earthquake Memorial Day to pay tribute to the athletes and other people who died in the earthquake of 25 April 2015. NOC President Jeevan Ram Shrestha handed over cheques worth 40,000 rupees (around USD 370) to 23 people in sport who were affected by the quake. NOC member Nilendra Shrestha said that ten athletes had lost their lives, and reported that the NOC had distributed relief to 57 athletes. The NOC also organised a painting and pottery workshop to mark the anniversary, during which the participants lit candles forming the shape of Nepal in memory of the deceased (see photo above). Many senior politicians and sports administrators were present. For more information, see

With 100 days to go to the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the Portugal Olympic Committee and the Portuguese Navy celebrated the occasion with an “Abraço Olímpico” (Olympic hug) near the Cristo Rei statue in Almada, on the Tagus River opposite Lisbon. Around 900 people formed a giant human logo of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and navy personnel assembled in the shape of the number 100 (see photo). Among the participants were 30 athletes who will compete in Rio, along with coaches, sports federation representatives and 88 refugees living in Portugal. The giant hug will be transported symbolically by the Portuguese Navy ship Escola Sagres, which will be Portugal’s hospitality house in Rio during the Games. Meanwhile, the 1988 Olympic women’s marathon champion Rosa Mota returned to Athens, where she won the first women’s marathon event in 1982, to take part in the Olympic torch relay for Rio 2016. She ran a stage between Marathon and Athens. Rosa Mota is also NOC Vice-President. More info on

© Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee

The Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee (CTOC) held an international sports affairs training course from 21 to 24 April in Taipei. The course brought together nine participants from six east-Asian NOCs and more than 130 staff members from the CTOC, city government, national sports organisations and the organising committees of the 2017 Taipei Universiade and the 2019 East Asian Youth Games (see photo above). The guests of honour included IOC EB Member Ching-Kuo Wu, IOC Member Pál Schmitt and speakers from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the IOC, the IOC TMS, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) and Cruising Yacht Club Australia. The themes included sport and politics, knowledge management, Olympic values, marketing and sport as a tool of sustainability. The aim of the course is to provide an overview of international sports affairs, encouraging exchanges between NOC staff and promoting the Olympic values. More info on

On 24 April the chair of the Turkish NOC athletes’ commission, Çağla Büyükakçay (pictured) won the WTA tennis tournament in Istanbul (Turkey), becoming Turkey’s first WTA tournament winner. Çağla Büyükakçay, who is currently ranked in the WTA’s top 100, was appointed chair of the 48-member commission, which includes equal numbers of men and women, in October 2015. Çağla Büyükakçay also sits on the NOC executive committee as athletes’ commission representative. More info on

© José Avelino Rodrigues

For the third time, the Venezuelan NOC has organised a national contest to select the flag-bearer for the Venezuelan delegation to the Olympic Games Rio 2016 (see photo above). Ten candidates are in the running. It was in 2008, ahead of the Olympic Games in Beijing, that NOC President Eduardo Alvarez first decided that all Venezuelans should have the opportunity to select the flag-bearer, and the exercise was repeated for the Olympic Games in London 2012.


RIO 2016

© Rio 2016 / Andre Luiz Mello

27 April marked an important milestone in the build-up to the opening of the Olympic Games Rio 2016. 100 days before the Opening Ceremony, the flame was officially handed over to Rio 2016 during a special ceremony in Athens’ Panathenaic Stadium, where the first Olympic Games of modern times took place in 1896. The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos had given the flame to the Rio 2016 President, Carlos Arthur Nuzman (see photo above). Meanwhile, preparations continue to go well in Rio. With venues now 98% complete, and most of them having been put through their paces at test events, the visual look of the Games is rapidly taking shape, adding to the belief that the city is now ready to host the world’s finest athletes in August. Full press release here.


© PyeongChang 2018

On 26 April Naver Corporation, the developer of Korea’s largest search engine and internet portal, joined the PyeongChang 2018 sponsorship programme as Official Internet Portal Sponsor (see photo above). The President of the Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games PyeongChang 2018 (POCOG), Yang-ho Cho, expressed hopes that Naver would help PyeongChang 2018 to distribute and promote Games-related information more easily and quickly. PyeongChang 2018 has also named two-time Olympic speed skating champion Lee Sang-hwa as honorary ambassador for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games. More info on

TOKYO 2020

On 25 April the Organising Committee for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 unveiled its new emblem (see right), selecting a design with links to Japanese tradition and the Olympic concept of unity in diversity. The emblem presentation was the culmination of an inclusive process that attracted design proposals from around the world and welcomed opinions from the public. More than 40,000 people shared their views on the final four designs shortlisted by the Tokyo 2020 Emblems Selection Committee from among 14,599 emblem entries. The final selection, submitted by designer Asao Tokolo of Tokyo, was chosen by the Selection Committee and approved by the Tokyo 2020 Executive Board. The chequered emblem, rendered in the traditional Japanese indigo blue, became formally known as “ichimatsu moyo” in the Edo period (1603-1868). The circular pattern of varying rectangular shapes represents a coming together of different countries, cultures and ways of thinking. The message is in keeping with “unity in diversity,” one of the three concepts, along with “achieving personal best” and “connecting to tomorrow” that provide the foundation for Tokyo 2020’s Games vision. IOC Vice-President John Coates, the Chair of the Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission, said: “The new Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 emblem symbolises important elements of the Tokyo 2020 Games vision. The public engagement in the selection process is another sign of growing interest in the 2020 Games. Interest and excitement will continue to build, in Japan and globally, after the official hand-off to Tokyo 2020 at the close of the upcoming Olympic Games Rio 2016.” Tokyo 2020 also announced the appointment of airweave inc. as a Tokyo 2020 Official Partner, the second domestic tier of its sponsorship programme. The company has been attributed the category “Beds and Bedding.” Its addition brings the total number of Tokyo 2020 domestic partners to 34, including 19 Official Partners. Full press releases on and


The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has announced that representatives of 34 National Paralympic Committees and National and International Federations made a historic pledge to strengthen winter para-sport around the world following a three-day workshop in Östersund (Sweden) from 22 to 24 April. The ‘Östersund Declaration’ outlines a number of measures needed to improve athlete development, talent identification and recruitment which all organisations agreed to take forward. The workshop was hosted by the County Administration of Jämtland, the city of Östersund, Mid Sweden University and the Swedish National Paralympic Committee as a gift to the IPC for its 25 year anniversary in 2014. More info on

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently published its second annual Anti-Doping Rule Violations (ADRVs) Report, which represents the most comprehensive set of global doping statistics in sport for 2014. It is important to note that the 2014 ADRVs Report is based on violations that were committed and adjudicated pursuant to the 2009 World Anti-Doping Code. Statistics related to violations committed and adjudicated pursuant to the 2015 Code will be released in 2017. More info on

The International World Games Association (IWGA) has announced that the 2017 World Games, which are due to take place in Wrocław, Poland, from 20 to 30 July, will enjoy the patronage of the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda. The news was released by the organising committee on 21 April. More info on

During its meeting in Lausanne on 20 April, the executive committee of the International Masters Games Association (IMGA) selected Innsbruck in Austria to host the 3rd World Winter Masters Games in 2020. The event was hosted for the first time in Bled (Slovenia) in 2010, and the second in Quebec (Canada) in 2015. More info on

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