ANOC Interview: Greek Deputy Minister of Culture and Sport Lefteris Avgenakis on hosting the ANOC General Assembly

The XXV ANOC General Assembly came to a close on Monday 24 October. ANOC spoke with our host Greek Deputy Minister of Culture and Sport Lefteris Avgenakis about what it means to host the General Assembly.

There were 148 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in Crete. How important was it for Greece to welcome the world’s NOC family for the ANOC General Assembly?

It was a great honor for us to hold the ANOC General Assembly, an event which gathered so many NOCs, members of the IOC, including President Bach himself, and lots of others from the global sports family. We were very pleased to welcome everyone to Crete. From the very beginning when we decided with the Hellenic Olympic Committee to hold this event, we wanted to achieve very high standards in all aspects – in terms of organization, hospitality, culture and much more! We wanted everyone to leave the country with great memories and a happy picture of Crete in their mind. To all our guests who visited us for the ANOC General Assembly, you have an open invitation to visit us again soon!

Crete has just hosted the ANOC General Assembly and it is set to host the 2023 Mediterranean Beach Games. Is the plan to make this beautiful island a sports hub for Greece?

This is our plan of course! Crete is in positive discussions to host major sports events, in all sports, in the near future. We also want to combine hospitality, which Greece but particularly Crete is well known for, with sports events. The organization of the Mediterranean Beach Games in 2023 will serve the purpose of combining two different sectors and we want many more events to do the same!

At the ANOC Awards 2021, the Hellenic Olympic Committee honoured Miltiádis Tentóglou as the Best Greek Athlete of Tokyo 2020. What were your overall thoughts on the Games?

I was honored to twice visit Tokyo, for the Olympic and then the Paralympic Games. I witnessed first-hand what amazing things the IOC, the Organizing Committee, the volunteers and everyone involved in the Games did to ensure they were staged successfully. It was a big challenge that they faced but we owe a special thanks to all the partners, and especially the people of Japan, who made this event a success. Once more we have seen how sport can achieve difficult goals in difficult circumstances. Sport is able to thrive even in the most challenging environments and abide by strict rules. The Games sent a strong message around the world that the Olympic values really are for all people.

What are the main priorities for Greek sport in the next 5-10 years?

We have developed the last two years’ new rules for Greek federations like term limits and age limits for the Boards. We also always looking at how to better enhance and support the progression of sports clubs throughout the country. Meanwhile, we are working hard to keep improving when it comes to anti-doping. We are fighting hard against all forms of corruption, particularly match fixing, and we want to improve the general behaviour of some Greek sports fans, particularly in football stadiums.

On the event side, we have a plan to attract exciting sports events and other activities in the post-COVID-19 world. In the coming days, we will announce the revival of cycling tour of Greece after 10 years. It will start in Crete and finish in the middle of the mainland. This event is integrated in the calendar of the UCI. We are hosting or looking to host World or European events in sports such as weightlifting, handball, volleyball, cheerleading etc. so I guess you could we are quite busy!

Any final words?

We truly believe in the power of sports. It was great to meet with and hear reports from ANOC, the IOC and many others, especially on the topic of sustainability as climate change is an area we are really passionate about! We will continue to collaborate with the Hellenic Olympic Committee, with ANOC and its Acting President Robin Mitchell, and of course the IOC and President Bach. Greece as the birth place of the modern Olympic Games will always be supportive of the Olympic values. Thank you for coming to Crete and we look forward to seeing you soon.


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