For International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, the Olympic community has managed to turn what has been a unique and challenging 2020 into lessons and opportunities.
In his New Year’s video message sent to the Olympic community on New Year’s Day, the IOC President recalled how the role of sport in different aspects of society has been strengthened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The role of sport for physical and mental health, the role of sport for our social life, the role of sport for our economic life has been recognised widely,” he said.
This has been achieved through a number of initiatives, including the “#StayStrong #StayActive #StayHealthy” campaign, a new cooperation agreement with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the “Healthy Together” campaign in partnership with the United Nations (UN) and WHO.
The same recognition has come from the UN General Assembly, which passed a resolution by consensus calling on the governments of the world to include sport in their recovery programmes.
Both the General Assembly resolution and the latest G20 Leaders’ Summit declaration supported the forthcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, to be held in 2021, and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
The IOC President reaffirmed that Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 will indeed be the priorities for the extraordinary Olympic year 2021.
“Tokyo is still the best prepared Olympic city ever. We can only thank our Japanese partners and friends for their great commitment and their determination, which is absolutely in line with our commitment and our determination to organise these Games in a safe and secure way for all the participants and to make these Olympic Games fit for the post-coronavirus world. We all will live unforgettable Games,” said Bach.
In addition, he explained that: “We have to already start at the beginning of this year to prepare for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. And they’re, really all are on board. We see the same commitment and determination of our Chinese partners and friends, and all the Olympic venues are already ready for the best winter sports athletes of the world.”
Further indication of the importance of sport and the Olympic values in today’s world can be drawn from one of the lessons learned in 2020, according to Bach: “We need more solidarity. We need more solidarity within societies, and we need more solidarity among societies.”
“And we will learn from this lesson and, by learning from this lesson of solidarity, we will turn the challenges of the future into opportunities again. In this spirit, we will carry forward the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms to the future. I invite you to join us in these ongoing reforms and to live our motto of ‘change or be changed’ also in the years to come.”
Lorraine Mar, CEO of FASANOC said that “we will take our cue from the IOC and be guided by it regarding the Games and also the Fiji Government for all travel requirements”.
We have so far qualified on merit for the Men’s and Women’s Rugby Sevens and Sailing with New Zealand based Sophia Morgan who will make her Olympic Games debut in the Women’s Single Dinghy competition. Athletes from Athletics and Swimming will participate under the Universality Place currently on offer unless these athletes qualify prior to the Games. We’re also hoping to qualify in Judo, Karate, Table Tennis and Archery, said Lorraine.
“The logistics of the Games have changed to take into account the COVID-19 requirements and the current IOC protocol is that athletes will be allowed into the Games Village, 5 days prior to competition and will need to leave within 48 hours of finishing competition”, she said.
This poses logistics challenges for us in leaving for Japan and also whilst in Japan. At this point in time, teams were leaving at different times to make the most of their training camps, however this is being assessed.
In addition to the new norm at these Olympic Games due to COVID-19, Tokyo 2020 will also be remembered as being the first Olympic Games to have 2 flag bearers – 1 Male and 1 Female per country at the Opening Ceremony. Team Fiji we will be calling for nominations for flag bearers closer to the Games.
In the interim, FASANOC through the Voices of the Athletes (VOA) programme is committed to supporting the IOC's message about the positive health, social and economic impacts of sport on society through its own strategic plan.
FASANOC promoted the IOC’s #StrongerTogether campaign by running Public Service Announcements (PSAs) on Fiji TV, showcasing Athlete Champions who relayed social messages about making healthy choices, staying active, not littering and many other such messages. You can see the PSAs on the FASANOC page, fasanoc.org.fj.
FASANOC intends to run more such campaigns this year.