The start of a New Year always provides a great sense of optimism.

It is an opportunity to look ahead with ambition at what we can achieve and how we are going to go about achieving it.

It is also provides a chance to reflect on the success of the past year and ensure that we take the lessons that we learnt through with us into the year ahead.

As an Olympic year, 2016 was very special for the world’s National Olympic Committees (NOCs).

Rio 2016 marked the culmination of four years of hard work for NOCs who work tirelessly every day to ensure their athletes are able to perform at their very best.

In Rio we saw athletes from 206 NOCs take part in the Games and 83 NOCs won medals. Two NOCs made their Olympic debuts, three NOCs won their first ever Olympic medals and another eight won their first ever Olympic gold medals.

Rio 2016 showcased the collective Olympic spirit in action. The world was treated to spectacular sporting performances, moments of individual and collective excellence, and numerous displays of friendship and sportsmanship. The Games united the world and reminded us of the unrivalled power of sport to inspire generations. Without the dedication and hard work of the NOCs and their athletes none of this would have been possible.

The ANOC Awards 2016 in Doha gave us the privilege of reliving some of these fantastic moments as we recognised the outstanding achievements of NOCs and their athletes during the Games. We established the ANOC Awards as a way of showing our appreciation for all the work that the NOCs do and to provide a night of celebration and entertainment for everyone, not just those who win awards.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah

The ANOC Awards is now in its third edition and took place once again this year on the occasion of the ANOC General Assembly. The XXI ANOC General Assembly in Doha was our largest ever and brought together more than 1,200 delegates from our NOC family as well as representatives from International Federations, Organising Committees and 2024 Candidate Cities. During the General Assembly we were encouraged by the excellent progress that has been made by our ANOC Commissions and Working Groups and we can look forward to the reforms they bring in 2017.

However, while there is so much to look back on fondly in 2016, it was a year that, perhaps more than ever, reinforced the Olympic Movement’s collective need to unite together to protect the integrity of sport and the clean athletes who represent it.

There were numerous allegations that shocked us all and threatened the integrity of the Olympic Games. There is a huge amount of work ahead of us and reform is urgently needed but we are confident we have already begun moving in the right direction. ANOC is committed to working in cooperation with the IOC and the entire Olympic Family throughout 2017 to build towards a brighter future for the Olympic Movement. In doing so, there is no doubt we will finish 2017 in a stronger position than we have begun it. From every problem comes the opportunity for positive change and all Olympic stakeholders are ready to embrace and contribute to this change.

We wish you all the warmest season’s greetings and a happy new year.

We look forward to a productive and successful year ahead.

Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah

President of the Association of National Olympic Committees