CRETE (GREECE) - The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, announced today the commitment acquired by his organization to fight against climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases by 50% until 2030.
According to Bach at the XXV General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) being held on the Greek island of Crete, this will be one of the IOC’s main objectives in the next decade.
“We need to step up our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Studies show that the race against climate change has accelerated and more needs to be done to prevent temperature rise,” said Bach.
“That is why we have made this commitment to reduce direct and indirect gas emissions by 50%. I invite your organizations to also set themselves this goal, which we can only be achieved through solidarity,” added the IOC president.
Bach pointed out that, in coordination with the United Nations, the IOC identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which sport can contribute until 2030 and invited the National Olympic Committees to make an effort to join the fight against climate change, “which, more than ever, needs the solidarity of all”.
The IOC president spoke of “ambitious objectives” and highlighted the implementation of the “Olympic Forest” and “Sport for Climate” projects. According to him, “Olympic Forest” will allow the planting of 350,000 trees on 2,000 hectares in Mali and Senegal, in addition to the improvement of people’s life in 90 villages in the two African countries.
“Some 200 organizations have already joined ‘Sport for Climate’ and, to those who have not yet done so, we ask them to please do so,” Bach said, after highlighting the effort being made by the Paris 2024 organizing committee to make the next Games “positive for the climate” by advancing some of the future goals set.
“Another of the important values that we advocate for, peace, also needs our solidarity, the solidarity of all us. Without it, we will not be able to tackle these great challenges and the divisions and confrontation will become more acute,” Bach warned.
The IOC president appealed again to solidarity to talk about the “humanitarian crisis” that Afghanistan and its Olympic Committee are going through, after the Taliban seized power in the Asian country.
According to Bach, the highest sports body has already evacuated 300 members of the olympic community, including the president and secretary general of the Afghan Olympic Committee, and is in “close contact” with the employees who are still working there “to decide what steps to take from now on”.
“With the help of many of you and your governments, we were able to get humanitarian visas or places on planes evacuating other citizens. We thank you very much for that, but you have to know that many members of our community are still there and they are in danger precisely because they are members of our community,” Bach said.
“We will continue to help them, but we will need the support of as many committees and governments as possible to help them leave the country. We can only get them out if we assure them that they will be welcome in third countries, with humanitarian visas,” continued the IOC president, after celebrating the good health of the secretary general of the Afghan Committee, who was present in the room to participate in the General Assembly.
The representatives of the National Olympic Committees continued their session after Bach thanked them for their indispensable contribution to the “enormous success” of the Tokyo 2020 Games and also for the confidence shown in the IOC in “times of maximum uncertainty, when we also had doubts and questions that we could not answer.”
“If we had fed those doubts, it would have led to the collapse of the Games. We had to move forward by trying to reduce the uncertainty rather than feeding it with more doubts, so I am even more grateful that you stood by us, committed to holding the Games and confident that they were going to be safe, that everyone would feel safe,” the IOC president stressed, after reviewing the challenges his organization and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee were subjected to because of the covid-19 pandemic.
Bach also celebrated the Olympic community’s ability to generate confidence in all its partners and revealed that the IOC already has 1.1 billion dollars in its coffers so that the organizing committees of the upcoming Games can already work on the events to be held until 2032. According to him, “a considerable number of organizations” are also “interested in organizing Games in 19 years’ time”.
In his extensive report to the representatives of the 148 National Committees represented at the luxurious Creta Convention Center and to the representatives of the 57 National Committees participating virtually in the General Assembly, the IOC President also pointed to his organization as a reference in the fight against the coronavirus.
“We created the tightest network of controls before the Games and the ITA system turned out to be very smart before and during the Games, along with the CAS sanctions when needed. Dear colleagues, follow this example and make the fight against doping even more reliable by delegating it to the ITA and CAS, so that the slightest suspicion may be ruled out,” Bach asked the assembly members, before announcing that 2022 Winter Games will follow the same antidoping system.
On Beijing 2022, precisely, the IOC president assured that “everything is ready” and that “all the committees that have participated in the tests already held have praised the venues and their quality, and are very impressed by how well our Chinese colleagues work and how seriously they take the fight against covid”.
“We have not yet emerged from the pandemic, but we have experience in how to deal with it and we know that we can hold the next Games with confidence,” concluded Bach, who also joked about the three kilos of weight that the good Greek food has made him gain in his short stay in Crete. Those three kilos, he laughed, will serve as a safeguard for the Greek authorities to allow him to return to Lausanne.
The XXV General Assembly of the National Olympic Committees will continue its sessions today and tomorrow, Monday 25.