Post Corona First for European Olympic Committees

(ATR) European Olympic leaders meet in person, Thomas Bach in Slovenia, too.

(ATR) The European Olympic Committees signal emergence from the coronavirus lockdown with the first face-to-face meeting for the group since the pandemic erupted this year.

The executive committee of the 51 member continental Association met in Ljubljana, Slovenia Sept. 21. It was the seventh meeting for the EC this year since January. But with the exception of that first meeting, all have taken place virtually due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 countermeasures. While some of the NOC leaders made the trip to Slovenia, others remained at home, joining the meeting by virtual means.

The meeting was led by acting president Niels Nygaard, who took over three months ago after the sudden death of Janez Kocijančič June 1.

"It has been a very productive couple of months for the EOC," Nygaard is quoted in an EOC release. He notes progress is being made towards the 2023 edition of the European Games in Krakow-Malopolska.

"Our meeting last weekend with members of all levels of Polish government and the Polish Olympic Committee was especially fruitful, and we are impressed by the energy and enthusiasm they are bringing to the project," says Nygaard.

The 2023 Games will be the first since they were inaugurated in 2015 to have benefited from a long lead time compared to the truncated timetable for Baku and then Minsk. At a meeting this month in Rome with EOC Coordination Commission chair Hasan Arat, agreement was reached on a program of 23 sports, the most ever in the event.

Plans for the next EOC General Assembly and the election of a new president were on the agenda this week. The assembly is now scheduled for Rome on November 27, moved from a date in October in Istanbul.

There seems to be consensus for an earlyelection for a new president, which would take place in late 2021 under current EOC statutes. The general assembly in Rome would have to approve the change which would advance the election to February 2021.

IOC President Thomas Bach traveled to Slovenia, only the second known foray outside Switzerland since the Corona quarantine. In July Bach went to Paris for a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Bach took part in a charity event for the Miroslav Cerar Foundation which helps support athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Bach, along with the EC, also attended a memorial service for Kocijančič.

"I have hardly heard anybody speak so convincingly about the importance of sport for education, for solidarity, for social values, for bridging the gap between peoples. Or as they would say now it's against any form of discrimination," Bach said.

"He was one of the most valuable advisors within the Olympic Movement. One who was able to look at situations from a different angle sometimes, who gave you ideas on how to also approach a challenge. And this was something I will always appreciate," said the IOC leader.

Kocijančič was elected EOC president in 2017. He was the first president of the Slovenia NOC when it was formed in 1991. A lawyer by profession, his career included stints as a corporate executive and as a member of the Slovenian government.

"It is as a true man of sport that we learnt to know and appreciate Janez across the many years he pursued his mission of promoting Olympism in Europe, a mission he so firmly believed in, and worked with such admirable determination to promote," said Nygaard.

"We salute a big sports leader, remember his smile, and his sense of humor. We mourn him greatly. And we shall remember his wisdom, his dedication, his drive, his dynamism. We shall miss him greatly," said Nygaard

Photo credit: Ales Fevzer/ NOC of Slovenia

Edited by Ed Hula.