Sport and Olympism, like other areas, have been strongly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It is with this in mind that IOC President Dr Thomas Bach addressed a message to the entire Olympic Movement entitled “Olympism and Coronavirus” to launch an in-depth debate on “the challenges we face and the potential of the opportunities before us”. ANOCA stands by this insightful reflection; this edition of ANOCA Newsletter thus highlights some excerpts from this historical correspondence.
OLYMPISM AND CORONAVIRUS
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all living in great uncertainty. At this point in time, that uncertainty is far from over. We are all just beginning to understand the far-reaching consequences of the crisis caused by the worldwide spread of the coronavirus. One thing is certain, however, that this pandemic has and will affect all sectors of society, including all of us in sport, significantly.
CORONAVIRUS CRISIS MANAGEMENT
Now we have another unprecedented challenge ahead of us – organising the postponed Olympic Games. This is a first in our long Olympic history, and it is an immense task for the IOC, our Japanese partners and friends, and all the members of our Olympic community.
This new situation will need all our solidarity, creativity, determination and flexibility. We shall all need to make sacrifices and compromises. Extraordinary circumstances call for extraordinary measures. This situation requires every one of us to do our part, and this applies to all of us, including the IOC.
For our part, we have made it clear that the IOC will continue to be responsible for its share of the operational burden and its share of the costs for these postponed Games, under the terms of the existing agreement for 2020 that we have with our Japanese partners and friends.
THE POST- CORONAVIRUS WORLD
At this moment, nobody knows what the realities of the post-coronavirus world will look like. What is clear, however, is that probably none of us will be able to sustain every single initiative or event that we were planning before this crisis hit. We will all need to take a close look at the scope of some of our activities and make the necessary adjustments to the new realities. In this context, the IOC administration is reviewing the IOC’s budget and priorities. This review will shortly be presented to the IOC Executive Board for discussion and approval
We can fairly assume that, in the post-coronavirus society, public health will play a much more important role. Sport and physical activity make a great contribution to health. While studies by the WHO had already demonstrated this with stunning results concerning non-communicable diseases, the coronavirus crisis teaches us how much a sound general health situation helps to overcome communicable diseases as well.
Without any doubt, the current health crisis will lead to a long and deep economic crisis, whose effect on sport may differ from country to country. This will depend greatly on the importance governments will give to the enormous social capital represented by sport when it comes to the allocation of the financial assistance provided by them for economic recovery. Therefore, we should strongly request governments to appreciate and honour the immense contribution of sport to public health, its importance for inclusion, social life and culture, and its important role for their national economies.”
“In some parts of the world, we may see more nationalism, more protectionism and, as a result, more political confrontation. Here, our Olympic values of solidarity, peace, respect for each other and for the global rules of sport need to be emphasised. By living in and strengthening solidarity we can show that respectful international cooperation produces better and fairer results than isolationism.”
THE WAY FORWARD I hope that with these ideas I can contribute to a comprehensive discussion. Therefore, I propose a wide-ranging consultation among all of us under the guidance of the IOC Executive Board and the IOC Session, as we did for Olympic Agenda 2020. Already the Ancient Greeks, to whom we owe the Olympic Games, knew that with every crisis comes an opportunity. Let us take this opportunity in a way of unity and creativity to emerge from this crisis even stronger than before. The post-coronavirus world will need sport, and we are ready to contribute to shaping it with our Olympic values.”