AIPS / LAUSANNE: International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach believes the Olympic community has managed to turn what has been a unique and challenging 2020 into lessons and opportunities.

Bach, in a New Year video video message sent to the Olympic community, recalled how the role of sport in different aspects of society has been strengthened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said: “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.”

This had 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 had 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.

Bach added that Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 would indeed be the priorities for the extraordinary Olympic year 2021.

He said: “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.

“We have to already start at the beginning of this year to prepare for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. 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.”