New Year Message
As 2018 comes to a close, it is a good time to reflect on our successes, and to look forward to new opportunities in 2019.
The unforeseen circumstances towards the end of 2018 were challenging, but we must not let this distract us from the achievements of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) around the world.
Olympic years are always special and 2018 was no different. A record 91 NOCs and the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) delegation competed at PyeongChang 2018. Six NOCs (Ecuador, Eritrea, Kosovo, Malaysia, Nigeria and Singapore) made their Olympic Winter Games debut reflecting the growth of winter sports around the world. In total, 28 countries won medals at the Games.
As expected, the athletes amazed us with their performances but the Olympic Games is about much more than winning medals. PyeongChang 2018 demonstrated the power of sport to bring peace and unity. The Unified Korean team marching together at the Opening Ceremony was a historic moment that will forever be remembered, and it sent out a message of hope to the world at a time when it is needed most.
The 2018 ANOC Awards in Tokyo, allowed us to relive some of these stand-out moments of PyeongChang 2018, as we honoured the brightest stars of the Games. The ceremony was also an opportunity to thank our NOCs for all their hard work, 365 days-a-year, and recognise those that made history in 2018.
Tokyo was also host to the XXIII ANOC General Assembly which brought together a record number of more than 1,400 delegates, from all 206 NOCs, as well as the International Olympic Committee, International Federations, Organising Committees and the 2026 Candidate Cities.
It was not just PyeongChang 2018 where NOCs and their athletes broke records last year. The Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) served as a reminder of how the YOG not only provides a springboard for the next generation of elite athletes, but also allows cities to test innovations that could feature at future Olympic Games. In Buenos Aires more than 200,000 people experienced the first-ever Olympic Opening Ceremony held in city streets. A total of 4,000 young athletes from all 206 NOCs competed at the Games, 50% of them female – the first time in Olympic history that a Games has enjoyed full gender equality.
The 18th Asian Games returned to Indonesia and were hosted for the first time in two cities, in the capital Jakarta and Palembang. Indonesia last hosted the Games in 1962. A total of 11,720 athletes from 45 member countries of the Olympic Council of Asia competed in 465 events across 40 sports. China led the medal tally for the tenth consecutive time. North and South Korea marched under the Korean Unification flag at the opening ceremony for the first time and competed jointly in several events. They also won a gold medal competing as a unified team. Eight World records, 18 Asian and 86 Asian Games records were broken during the Games.
Looking ahead to this year, there is a great deal to be excited about. Not least, the first ever ANOC World Beach Games in San Diego in October. Last year, we saw the organising committee sign a broadcast deal with NBC, the beautiful medals were unveiled and more than 48 NOCs from all five Continents have qualified for the Games so far. Over the next six months we will see athletes battle it out to secure qualification places for the inaugural event. We have no doubt the ANOC World Beach Games will be a fantastic event and a truly global celebration of beach, action and water sports.
2019 will also see the return of the African, European, Pacific and Pan American Continental Games as the best athletes from each continent compete for Continental glory.
ANOC will continue to work closely with its NOCs to ensure we are providing the best possible support this year. As was approved at the ANOC General Assembly, we now have two new ANOC Commissions – a Gender Equity Commission and the Culture and Education Commission, which will allow us to identify further areas where we can provide solutions to problems faced by NOCs.
There is a lot of work to be done but equally a lot to look forward to. By working together, we can ensure we build on the success of 2018 and ensure 2019 is an even more productive year.
I take this opportunity to wish you all the best for a successful sporting year in 2019.