Pandemic effects and challenges for Olympic Committees, at the center of ANOC General Assembly this weekend

NOCs could also address FIFA’s controversial proposal and add to IOC’s concern about the World Cup every two years.

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Actresses perform during the official re-opening of the International Olympic Academy, in Ancient Olympia, Greece, October 17, 2021. REUTERS/Costas Baltas
Actresses perform during the official re-opening of the International Olympic Academy, in Ancient Olympia, Greece, October 17, 2021. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

The global coronavirus pandemic and its effects on sport could occupy a key part of this weekend’s agenda of the XXV General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Crete, Greece’s largest island.

Greece is back in the spotlight of the Olympic world a week after hosting in Athens the meeting of the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee, which, in addition to celebrating the centenary of its Board, reached several important agreements.

Among the decisions adopted, the IOC took a critical stance towards the proposal led by FIFA president Gianni Infantino to hold the men’s World Cup every two years.

Some analysts have not ruled out the possibility that at the imminent meeting on October 24 and 25, the controversial plan will be addressed and the NOCs will also resolve to share the IOC’s concerns and advocate a broader consultation not only in the football family, but also in the international sports movement.

This AN0C General Assembly, which brings together 206 NOCs from five continents, was due to take place at the end of 2020 in Seoul, but was postponed due to health restrictions.

According to the agenda, to which Around The Rings had access, the Olympic leader, Thomas Bach, will deliver a message at the beginning of the forum and is expected to do so in person. The IOC President’s attendance since the founding of ANOC in 1979 has become customary.

Bach has emphasized in his recent appearances “the value of solidarity” in all areas of society as a key element for holding the postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo amid the constraints and demands of stringent anti-vid measures.

A final report of the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee is included in the program as well as reports on the Beijing 2022 and Paris 2024 Winter Olympic Games.

It was also announced that the candidate cities to host the World Beach Games in 2023 and 2025 will be announced. Hong Kong and Los Angeles had shown interest. The first edition was held in Doha, Qatar, in 2019. The second, should have been held in 2021, but was postponed two years because of the pandemic.

The International World Games Association (IWGA) will make a presentation on its next multidisciplinary events: Birmingham, Alabama, in 2022, and Chengdu, China, in 2025.

The president of the IWGA, the Spaniard José Perurena, told Around the Rings from Madrid that the change of strategy of his organization goes beyond the international federations and seeks that athletes travel to the World Games “not individually, but under the umbrella of their Olympic Committees”.

Perurena also considered that the context could also serve to subscribe a Memorandum of Collaboration of the IWGA and ANOC pending to be subscribed.

Confusing situations in recent election processes of some NOCs could be exposed in the framework of the functioning of the national Olympic bodies.

The Executive Board, which meets this Saturday, will also propose the date and venue of the XXVI General Assembly in 2022, which will have as icing on the cake the election of a new president.

According to sources at the hotel that houses the delegates on the Greek island, the traditional “corridor lobby” has been noted in which speculations have surfaced about the likely strongest candidates in a presidential race.

Around the Rings has been unable to confirm whether Fiji’s Robin Mitchell would run. Mitchell was confirmed on the IOC Executive Board until 2024 last July.

ANOC Acting President Robin Mitchell (ANOC)
ANOC Acting President Robin Mitchell (ANOC)

Mitchell has been ANOC’s interim president since 2018, when he replaced Kuwaiti Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah , who stepped away from the presidency after being charged with falsifying evidence by a Swiss court.

Al-Sabah was sentenced last September 10 to 14 months in prison. The justice in Geneva determined that Al-Sabah, together with three lawyers and an advisor, made false videos to damage members of the Kuwaiti government, with whom he has a long-standing confrontation, in an attempt to blame them for an alleged coup attempt in that country.

After receiving the 14-month sentence, plus an additional 15 months of suspended imprisonment, Al-Sabah said in a statement that he would appeal the court decision and temporarily step down as president of the Olympic Council of Asia, which he had headed since 1991.

In addition to reports from various commissions and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Testing Agency (ITA) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), ANOC is preparing to present its 2021 awards to the best NOCs and best athletes of Tokyo 2020.

The evening will be broadcast on digital platforms at the end of the first day of activities.