Low key IOC presence at the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly

No speech this year by IOC President Thomas Bach though two IOC members who are also heads of state are speaking this week.

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo addresses the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 22, 2021.  Justin Lane/Pool via REUTERS
Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo addresses the General Debate of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City, U.S., September 22, 2021. Justin Lane/Pool via REUTERS

For the second year in a row, IOC President Thomas Bach will miss the United Nations General Assembly that takes place this week every September in New York City.

No reasons are given for Bach’s absence this year, although the IOC does not seem to have any major issues to press at the U.N. this year, either.

Nonetheless, the IOC is represented in person by Alberto Moreno, IOC member in Colombia and the former governor of the Interamerican Development Bank. Moreno’s experience in diplomacy and development, rather than sport, led to his nomination to the IOC in 2016.

Last year, with the pandemic in full bore around the world, few dignitaries were able to travel to the U.N. which held its first virtual general assembly as a result. In 2021, the trend continues, with many of the speeches by heads of state pre-recorded. About 100 will be live, however.

While there will be no address with an Olympic theme, two IOC members who are also heads of state are on the list to appear.

Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani speaks during the 76th Session of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York on September 21, 2021. Timothy A. Clary/Pool via REUTERS
Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani speaks during the 76th Session of the General Assembly at UN Headquarters in New York on September 21, 2021. Timothy A. Clary/Pool via REUTERS

Sheikh Tamim, the emir of Qatar, spoke in person on opening day Sept. 21. He urged world leaders to engage in dialogue with the new Taliban leadership in Afghanistan, far better he said than cutting off ties with the country.

“Because boycott only leads to polarization and reactions, whereas dialogue could bring in positive results,” said Tamim. Under his rule as emir, Qatar has become a key player in the situation in Afghanistan on diplomatic and humanitarian fronts.

While no nation has as yet formalized its recognition of the new government in Kabul, the national Olympic committee in Afghanistan remains for now in good standing with the IOC. In 1999 the IOC suspended the Afghan NOC over discrimination against female athletes, restoring its status three years later.

Earlier this month Bach said the IOC is watching the situation in Afghanistan.

The other IOC member speaking at the general assembly is Prince Albert of Monaco. His comments are scheduled for delivery on September 23. Text of his pre-recorded speech were not available in advance.

With the Olympic Winter Games approaching in five months in Beijing, nothing has been said so far about the adoption of the ceremonial Olympic Truce declaration that’s become a pre-Games U.N. custom. The resolution is usually presented by the nation hosting the Olympics.