As we approach the end of 2021, we can look back on what has been a truly extraordinary year. For all the challenges we have faced there have been so many unforgettable moments of joy and friendship that will remain with us forever.
It is through facing these common challenges that we have come closer together. We have united through our shared values and commitment to empowering people through sport. As our amended Olympic motto now states, we are stronger together and 2021 showcased this strength in unity.
Nowhere was this more evident than at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Tokyo 2020 will go down in history as much for being a celebration of sporting excellence as it will as a celebration of humanity and solidarity.
We owed so much to our Japanese hosts and the IOC for ensuring the Games could take place in a safe and secure manner. Thanks to their efforts, athletes from a record-breaking 93 NOCs were given the platform to win Olympic medals and 65 of those won at least one Olympic gold. World and Olympic records were broken, there were dramatic upsets and last-second victories. But there were also so many inspiring moments of sportsmanship and comradery.
You, the NOCs, deserve great credit for the resilience you demonstrated and the commitment to supporting your athletes to ensure they could compete at their very best. This commitment to your athletes transcends the Olympic Games and has been seen throughout this year. The passion and dedication of the NOC family has inspired us. And allowed your athletes to shine even during times of darkness.
There have been countless example of NOCs working together in 2021 whether it is through shared sports facilities, vaccination hubs or simply the exchange of knowledge and best practice.
Providing a platform for NOCs to exchange and learn from each other has been a critical part of ANOC’s work this year. It was perhaps most visible during our first-ever carbon neural ANOC General Assembly in Crete in October. It was a privilege to be able to welcome 148 NOCs in person and the remaining 57 online. We are grateful to our hosts, the Hellenic Olympic Committee for organising such an excellent event and affording us the opportunity to meet once again.
Of course, it was an ANOC General Assembly like no other but its importance remained as strong as ever. It provided a critical opportunity for NOCs to exchange ideas and best practice, to hear reports and contribute to our future. And it was a chance to celebrate NOCs and their athletes during the ANOC Awards 2021.
We approved our Strategic Plan 2021-2024 in Crete which will help guide our future and ensure we are continuing to find ways to best support NOCs. Many new initiatives have already begun such as the very successful ANOC Digital Accelerator Programme and many more will be implemented in the year ahead.
As we look to 2022, ANOC will continue to evolve to ensure it provides the best service to the NOCs. Challenges remain and the pandemic shows no sign of going away but this year has reinforced how we can continue to progress and move forward when we work together. ANOC will continue to meet with the Continental Associations as we have this year to discuss new initiatives and learn from each other and our ANOC Commissions will continue to identify ways for ANOC to develop. We will also continue to progress in our preparations for the ANOC World Beach Games 2023 and the 2025 and 2027 editions.
When discussing next year, we cannot look past the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 which we are confident will be a great success. We know there will be strict COVID restrictions in place to protect everyone’s health but as we saw during Tokyo 2020 this should not impact the excellence of the Games.
We wish all the NOCs with teams competing at Beijing 2022 the very best of luck in their final preparations and in their performance at the Games. Irrespective of finishing positions, we have no doubt that all athletes and NOCs will contribute to an excellent event which showcases the power of sport to bring the world together.
We look forward to seeing many of you in Beijing and meeting with you all again during our General Assembly in Seoul on 18-21 October.
In the meantime, on behalf of ANOC, I wish you season’s greeting and a healthy and very successful new year.
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