New EOC President Eyes Challenging Future

(ATR) Hellenic Olympic Committee president Spyros Capralos elected at the European Olympic Committees general assembly.

(ATR) Spyros Capralos is elected as the ninth president of the European Olympic Committees with 34 of a possible 50 votes (68 percent) to defeat his lone opponent Niels Nygaard.

The Hellenic Olympic Committee president’s victory comes on the opening day of the 50th EOC general assembly in Athens with 46 of 50 NOCs attending in person.

"I will be an engaged, open-minded and transparent president for all nations," Capralos said, addressing his EOC colleagues immediately after winning their vote. "Through your trust and solidarity, we can raise EOC to the next level."

Capralos thanked Nygaard, who has been serving as the EOC interim president, for a "very dignified and respectful campaign".

A two-time Olympian representing Greece in water polo and an IOC member since 2019, Capralos announced his intention to run for EOC President during last year’s general assembly, which was held online due to the pandemic. He replaces Janez Kocijančič, who died at age 78 in June 2020.

Responding to a question from Around the Rings about the upcoming and long-term objectives and challenges along the road to Paris 2024 and Milano-Cortina 2026, Capralos was candid.

"There are many challenges ahead – we need to work on the recovery after the pandemic…our athletes have suffered a lot," Capralos said, at a virtual press briefing shortly after winning the election. "I wish those athletes going to Tokyo good luck – it will be a difficult Games.

"The future will be digital technology – we need better transparency and governance with the European Olympic Committees."

Capralos, the coordination commission chair of the first two editions of the European Games for Baku 2015 and Minsk 2019, emphasized: "We need lasting success of our events – there is no doubt this is the name of the game and we will do even more because Europe has always been a leader."

Looking ahead to the third edition in Krakow-Malopolska 2023, he said he believes Poland will deliver very good Games.

"I’m very confident that the European Games will bring the best athletes of Europe and will be very successful – some (events) will bring qualifications to the Olympic Games."

Capralos added that they will continue to develop the sport program.

"After Poland, it will be easier to get new organizers and hopefully we will be moving to this direction."

Capralos, an EOC executive committee member since November 2019, concluded his address to colleagues: "Your priorities are my priorities – thank you from this very proud Greek and European citizen."

Elections for the 2021-2025 EOC Executive Committee were also contested for the last time in its current structure with vice president Daina Gudzineviciute (LTU), secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi (ITA) and treasurer Peter Mennel (AUT) all winning their respective offices.

Joining them as ExCo members are Zlatko Matesa (CRO), Jean-Michel Brun (FRA), Uschi Schmitz (GER), Annamarie Phelps (GBR), Líney Rut Halldorsdóttir (ISL), Berit Kjoll (NOR), José Manuel Araújo (POR), Cristina Vasilianov (MDA), Mihai Covaliu (ROU), Djordje Visacki (SRB), Victoria Cabezas (ESP) and Hasan Arat (TUR).

The election raises the total number of women on the 16-seat ExCo from two to seven.

EOC Celebrates 50 Years

IOC president Thomas Bach addressed the EOC via a video message, congratulating delegates on their 50th Anniversary.

"What better way to acknowledge our Greek roots than holding your general assembly in the birthplace of the Olympic Games," Bach said.

Bach said considering the longstanding European sports model, he looks forward to the EOC making "significant contributions to the Olympic Movement for the next 50 years."

Honoring the 50-year anniversary the EOC has launched a micro-site showcasing great sporting moments and celebrating its history:

Prior to the elections, the Danish NOC president Nygaard provided a comprehensive report of EOC activities to the general assembly applauding the continental association for its diligence persevering through the pandemic

The IOC’s James Macleod addressed the EOC members in Athens advising that the 2021-2024 Olympic Solidarity Plan has been approved by the IOC EB, including a 16 percent budget increase over the coming four years.

He also informed that the NOC Activities Grant is being increased from $100,000 to $125,000 per year for each NOC, in addition to the various other programs available.

Treasurer Peter Mennel provided a thorough report on EOC finances and budgets.

Elaborating on a question posed by the Finnish NOC, Mennel informed that outstanding monies are owed by Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Russia for television coverage of the Minsk 2019 Games. The Austrian NOC secretary general said that Ukraine and Azerbaijan have promised payment, however Russia still owes 350,000 Euros and resolving the debt may require a meeting with the Russian NOC president or involving attorneys.

An EOC auditor told the members: "You are not rich, but you are in good shape to run your business."

ANOC Update

ANOC secretary general Gunilla Lindberg updated the EOC via video from her home in Sweden, noting that regular virtual meetings with leaders of all continental associations continue.

Lindberg said that the ANOC Strategic Plan for 2021-2024 is in place having received substantial feedback from 179 out of 206 NOCs through a questionnaire that was sent.

She noted that there were "a lot of proposals for the new strategic plan" and that it would be put forth to the ANOC Council, which will meet in Tokyo.

Lindberg also informed that plans are moving forward for the XXV ANOC General Assembly in Seoul, scheduled for Oct. 26-27. She said it will be a physical meeting with regulations and restrictions in place.

Finally, the veteran Swedish sports leader said that the candidature process for the 2023 ANOC World Beach Games is set to begin after Tokyo. Lindberg informed that numerous NOCs have expressed interest in hosting the second edition of the multi-sport event following Doha 2019.

The EOC GA concludes with day two of proceedings Friday in the Greek capital.

Written and reported by Brian Pinelli

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