There was a historic first visit of a Chinese Head of State to the International Olympic Committee this week. The visit began with a private dinner between President Xi Jinping and the IOC President Thomas Bach at which the two were able to extensively discuss many issues of mutual interest and latest world developments. They also discussed the role of sport in society and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The next day in further bilateral discussions the two leaders focused on the upcoming Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and the close cooperation between the IOC and China with regard to the organisation of the Olympic Games. The Chinese President gave his commitment to ‘sustainable, green and clean Olympic Games.’ He also expressed the clear commitment of China to have ‘clean Games free from any kind of corruption or doping.’ IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge, IOC Vice-President Yu Zaiqing, IOC Members from China Li Lingwei and Yang Yang, as well as IOC Member and ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah joined President Bach in this bilateral meeting.
Following the talks, President Bach and President Xi toured the Olympic Museum, which featured a display of special moments in Chinese Olympic history. Read the full press release here.
President Bach held a bilateral meeting in Geneva with the new United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, just a few weeks into his mandate. During their discussions the two leaders agreed to further strengthening their partnership and working together even more closely. The Secretary-General highlighted the important role of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Games to help unite the world and to contribute to peace and development.
The IOC President also met with Ambassador Peter Thomson, President of the 71st Session of the UN General Assembly. The pair spoke about the recent resolution of the UN General Assembly, which highlights the importance of sport in society and its contribution to the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
A delegation led by the new Chinese NOC President, Gou Zhongwen, who is also Sports Minister, was welcomed by the IOC President. The preparations for the organisation of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and the strengthening of the fight against doping were at the heart of the discussions. IOC Vice-President Yu Zaiqing and IOC Members Li Lingwei and Yang Yang also attended the meeting.
A bust of Pierre de Coubertin designed by the Director of the National Art Museum of China, Wu Weishan, was presented to the IOC President as a donation to The Olympic Museum.
At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, the IOC and Alibaba Group jointly announced a historic long-term partnership through 2028. Joining The Olympic Partner (TOP) worldwide sponsorship programme, Alibaba will become the official “Cloud Services” and “E-Commerce Platform Services” Partner, as well as a Founding Partner of the Olympic Channel. President Bach said: “This is a ground-breaking, innovative alliance, and will help drive efficiencies in the organisation of the Olympic Games through 2028, whilst also supporting the global development of digital opportunities including the Olympic Channel.” Jack Ma, Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group, said: “We are proud to support Olympic Agenda 2020, using our innovations and technologies to help evolve the Olympic Games for the digital era.” Read the full press release here.
In Davos, the IOC President also met with IOC Members Anant Singh and Luis Alberto Moreno; Refugee Olympic Team athlete Yusra Mardini; the President of the International Automobile Federation (FIA) Jean Todt; and WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab. He also met Nobel Peace Prize-winner Professor Muhammad Yunus, who gave a speech on the need for social business and youth entrepreneurship at the 129th IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro.
A delegation from the Indian NOC led by its President Narayanaswamy Ramachadranan and a delegation from the NOC of Turkmenistan were welcomed by the President at the IOC headquarters.
The IOC President attended the ceremony for the “Best FIFA Football Awards” in Zurich (Switzerland), where he met with International Association Football Federation President Gianni Infantino.
President Bach welcomed the members of the Board of the International Modern Pentathlon Union (UIPM) on the occasion of their meeting at The Olympic Museum.
Meetings were held with the IOC Vice-President Yu Zaiqing; IOC Members Sam Ramsamy, Yang Yang, Li Lingwei and Mamadou Ndiaye. The President also met with ANOC President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah and with ANOCA President Lassana Palenfo, also IOC Honorary Member; as well as with Sunil Sabharwal, Secretary General of the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) and with Alain Lunzenfichter, IOC Communications Commission member.
OTHER OLYMPIC NEWS
To provide a level playing field for all clean athletes at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, the IOC put special measures in place, including targeted pre-tests and the re-analysis of stored samples from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 and London 2012, following an intelligence-gathering process that started in August 2015. As part of this process, the IOC announced on 12 January that eight athletes have been disqualified from the Olympic Games Beijing 2008 and London 2012. Read the news here.
French cyclist Marion Clignet, a double silver medallist (Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000), this week donated her suit and bib worn at the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996 to The Olympic Museum. She also came to talk about her career as an athlete with epilepsy, as part of a day organised by the Swiss Association of Epilepsy on 14 January.
INTERNATIONAL SPORTS FEDERATIONS
In Baku (Azerbaijan), which will host the World Judo Championships in 2018, a seminar was held that brought together some 365 coaches and referees from 98 countries. The main objective was to present to them the new rules, which they will in turn present to their peers and national teams. Besides the theory sessions, the participants were able to have a practical session on the tatami. International Judo Federation (IJF) President Marius Vizer was also present in Baku (photo above). Read the full news. here.
India men’s hockey captain and star goalkeeper PR Sreejesh has joined the Athletes’ Committee of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) with immediate effect following the vacancy left by former Chair Michael Green from Germany, whose term came to an end in November. As a player, Sreejesh has been part of the revival of Indian hockey in the past few years, winning gold in the 2014 Asian Games, bronze at the 2015 Hockey World League finals and silver in the 2016 Champions Trophy. Sreejesh’s appointment was proposed by the FIH Athletes’ Committee and ratified by the FIH Executive Board. Read the full press release here.
As part of the International Swimming Federation (FINA)’s development programme, last October, Ramallah (Palestine) played host to a clinic for Palestinian coaches. Led by FINA representative John Stathis, this course covered topics at FINA’s Beginner and Intermediate levels and was supported by the Palestinian NOC. Palestine sent two swimmers to the Olympic Games Rio 2016: Ahmed Gebrel (200m freestyle) and Mary Al-Atrash (50m freestyle). Info at www.fina.org.
Further to the decision of the 56th Ordinary Congress of the International Skating Union (ISU) held in Dubrovnik (Croatia) to introduce an ISU Athletes’ Commission and in accordance with Article 21 of the 2016 ISU Constitution, the ISU has published the List of Nominees to the Athletes’ Commission. The ISU Athletes’ Commission members will be elected by their peers at several ISU events this year. See details here.
On 15 January, the 6th edition of World Snow Day took place with 478 events organised in 46 countries. Combined with the 628 SnowKidz events, the 2016/2017 season saw a total of 1,106 events. This included a record eight nationwide initiatives, held in Austria, Canada, China, Iceland, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania and Russia. For some, including Snow City in Saudi Arabia, the Danish Ski Association and the Liechtenstein Ski Association, World Snow Day 2017 was their first edition. An estimated record three million people were reached via the World Snow Day digital channels and at events during World Snow Day 2017. Read the full press release here on the International Ski Federation (FIS) website.
At the end of each year, all Councils of the International Waterski Wakeboard Federation (IWWF) select their female and male skier/rider of the year. The IWWF Executive Board members then elect the IWWF Athletes of the Year from their submissions. The 2016 winners are Jacinta Carroll (waterski jump) from Australia and David Small (barefoot skier) from Great Britain. See details here.
NATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEES
The Albanian NOC has organised the third edition of the Advanced Sports Management Course, an annual programme aimed at improving and developing human resources in sport (photo above). This course is funded by Olympic Solidarity. The participants presented their theses on subjects such as management organisation, strategic planning, human resources, the organisation of sports events, finance management and sports marketing. In addition, a technical course for shooting coaches was held with the support of the NOC thanks to Olympic Solidarity and the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF). The aim was to improve the professional development of Albanian Shooting Sports Federation coaches. Info at www.nocalbania.org.al.
The Algerian NOC, in collaboration with the wilaya (province) of Illizi, organised the 13th “Sporting South” Olympic Week from 24 to 29 December 2016 (photo above). Some 950 young athletes (girls and boys) representing 11 wilayas in the south of the country took part. It was kicked off by Youth and Sports Minister El Hadi Ould Ali. Placed under the patronage of the President of the Republic, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, this event was marked by the presence of great figures in Algerian sport, such as Olympic champion and double Olympic silver medallist (1,500m) Taoufik Makhloufi and Olympic champion (1,500m) and NOC Vice-President Nouria Benida Merah.
As part of the preparations for the 4th School Mini-Olympics scheduled for March 2017, a coordination meeting of the organising committee was recently held (photo above). Organised by the Bahrain NOC in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, this event brings together schoolchildren from across the country to take part in several sports activities. Info at www.boc.bh.
Over 250 children aged 3 to 12 took part in the festive “Olympic New Year” event organised at the headquarters of the Belarusian NOC in Minsk last December (photo above). A joint project of the NOC, the NOC’s Media Commission and the Belarusian Sports Press Association, this event was created for the children of Olympic champions, coaches, veterans, medallists, and well known sports journalists. The guests included many Olympic champions as well as NOC First Vice-President Maxim Ryzhenkov and Sports and Tourism Minister Alexander Shamko. Read the full news here.
The Colombian NOC has announced the organisation of the third forum of the first cycle on the high-level athlete at the end of December at the High-Level Sports Centre in Bogota (photo above). This forum brought together over 100 sports science professionals. The main theme was the existence in Colombia of a real talent-identification and young athlete programme, and the strategies implemented in this regard. Read the full news here.
Almost 100 athletes were honoured by the Ecuadorian NOC at its traditional Olympic gala, at which the best athletes of the year were recognised (photo). Also at the ceremony were Sports Minister Xavier Enderica, the presidents of all the national sports federations and the members of the NOC’s Executive Committee. Read the full news here.
The NOC of Salvador has distributed 10 laser pistol and blank pistol kits to the Salvadorian Modern Pentathlon federation. The aim is to promote this sport to adolescents and youngsters at various educational centres in the country. Attending the handover ceremonies were NOC President Eduardo Palomo, Modern Pentathlon Federation President Luis Mejía and P. Graeme Keslake and Sara Suster from the Academia Británica Cuscatleca school (photo above). Info at www.teamesa.org.
The Spanish NOC President Alejandro Blanco welcomed more than 300 people gathered at the NOC headquarters in Madrid, on the occasion of a presentation entitled “From Rio 2016 to Tokyo 2020”, organised by the Worldwide Olympic Partner Atos. At this event, the Spanish NOC and Atos (photo above) presented and analysed in detail the digital transformation of the Olympic Games in prelude to the next edition in Tokyo in 2020. Read the full press release here.
Olympic downhill skiing champion at the Winter Games in Squaw Valley in 1960, France’s Jean Vuarnet (centre of photo) died in early January at the ages of 83. In a French NOC press release, we learnt that Jean Vuarnet helped pioneer the aerodynamic tuck position for downhill racers, a position adopted today by skiers in the quest for speed. After his sports career, he helped to develop the ski resort of Avoriaz and was Vice-President of the French Ski Federation, and also founder of a word famous sunglasses brand. Read the full news here.
The Mongolian NOC, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary, recently organised the traditional “Burte Chono 2016” Olympic gala in Ulaanbaatar. The ceremony was opened by NOC President Demchigjav Zagdsuren, in the presence of IOC Honorary Member Shagdarjav Magvan, Sports Minister J. Batsuuri and many sports personalities. As a result of voting by 73 Mongolian Sports Press Union journalists, the trophies of the year were awarded to the best athletes, coaches and referees (photo above).
At the invitation of the Chinese Taipei Olympic Committee, Chinese NOC Vice-President Yang Shu-An led a delegation to Taipei for the 20th Annual Cross-Strait NOCs Forum (photo above). This Forum established a roadmap for exchange programmes for the two NOCs for 2017, with six visits from each side taking place this year. Launched 19 years ago and organised alternately in Taipei and Beijing, this forum contributes to strengthening exchanges and cooperation between the two NOCs. Info at www.tpenoc.net.
The Turkish NOC launched a special edition of its Sports Culture and Olympic Education (Oli) programme for youngsters in Erzurum, in view of the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOF), which will be held soon in the city. Over 3,000 children took part, as well as young athletes who will compete in the EYOF (photo above). The Oli programme, set up 10 years ago, promotes the values of sport and the Olympic spirit among students across Turkey. This programme also seeks to raise children’s awareness of healthy nutrition and the environment. Info at www.olimpiyatkomitesi.org.tr.
As happens every year, on 6 January, representatives of the Venezuelan NOC, athletes, coaches, sports officials and local authority officials celebrated the traditional sports mass at the La Divina Pastora church in Caracas. Another service was held in the city of Barcelona, with the participation of NOC President Eduardo Álvarez. Info at http://covoficial.com/.
ORGANISING COMMITTEES FOR THE OLYMPIC GAMES
The Brazilian Ministry of Tourism has confirmed that the Olympic Games Rio 2016 helped the country achieve record tourism figures last year. Over the 12 months, Brazil welcomed 6.6 million foreign tourists, which represents a 4.8 per cent increase on the previous year. In terms of revenue generated by tourism in 2016, the total was USD 6.2 billion, an increase of 6.2 per cent on the previous year. In parallel, on 23 December, Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes unveiled the Rio 2016 Wall of Champions, which includes the names of each of the 2,568 athletes who won medals in last year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games. Read the full news story here.
ORGANISING COMMITTEES FOR THE YOUTH OLYMPIC GAMES
10 January marked three years to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Youth Olympic Games on 10 January 2020 in Lausanne. This third edition of the Winter YOG is an event organised for young people by young people. The Organising Committee for the Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020 has recruited a core team with an average age of less than 30. Read the full article here.
Francesco Ricci Bitti (l. on photo), President of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), led a landmark meeting with a number of Presidents of Summer Olympic International Federations with offices based in Lausanne, welcoming a delegation from the Chinese Sports Ministry and Olympic Committee at the ASOIF office in Lausanne. The Chinese delegation was led by its newly-elected President Gou Zhongwen (r. on photo) who underlined the crucial role of IFs in the organisation of international sport and emphasised his NOC’s intention to enhance its cooperation with IFs. Full press release here.
Generations For Peace has launched a peace-building programme with the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The aim is to break down conflict divides and develop greater dialogue, education and engagement within and between communities in Sri Lanka. Through peace-building activities at grassroots, district and national levels, Generations For Peace and the National Peace Council will encourage communities divided by conflict to meet and interact; break down barriers and stereotypes; and nurture deeper understanding, tolerance, and trust. Launched in December, the programme will run until November 2018 and will benefit 6,400 community members in several localities. Read the news item here.