From 29 to 30 January 2021, the Third General Assembly of the European Olympic Academies (EOA) successfully took place in a virtual format. The participation of all 28 National Olympic Academies was seen by EOA President Prof. Dr. Manfred Laemmer as a sign of the increasing importance of the association on a European level. Another 30 Observers also attended the Assembly.
Prominent guests were invited to speak at the beginning of the event. Isidoros Kouvelos, President of the International Olympic Academy, emphasised that the pandemic had taught that the Olympic values of solidarity, achievement, equality and fair play had developed their effectiveness far beyond the realm of sport. Among other things, he recalled the self-sacrificing role of doctors and nurses, who deserved high recognition.
Niels Nygaard, Acting President of the EOC, explained that the EOC, like the IOC, is committed to the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including gender equality. In the future, the EOC would express this by guaranteeing a minimum quota for men and women of 30% in the EOC’s bodies. Despite the current difficult situation, he sees “light at the end of the tunnel” and expects successful Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Prof. Dr. Gudrun Doll-Tepper, Chair of the EOC working group “Olympic Academies”, reported on the exchange of information and experiences among the members of this body and announced increased activities this year. She also referred to the pandemic and pointed to the “Olympic Day” of the German Olympic Academy, which was virtually held last June under the motto “Move – Learn – Discover”.
President Manfred Laemmer began his annual report with a review of the development of the EOA since the Second General Assembly 2019 in Nicosia/Cyprus. The Olympic year had started with great optimism, but the pandemic had largely ruined the realisation of the annual planning. Like the Olympic Games and numerous major national and international sporting events, most of the EOA’s projects had also fallen victim to the virus. Therefore, the Executive Board had concentrated primarily on the further expansion of the association’s internal structures and the improvement of communication. Laemmer acknowledged the outstanding commitment of the late EOC President Janez Kocijancic to the foundation and development of the EOA and thanked his successor Niels Nygaard for his continuing support.
In the further course of the Assembly, delegates confirmed the accession of the four National Olympic Academies of Armenia, Belarus, Belgium and the Netherlands. Prof. Dionyssis Gangas, Development Project Consultant of the IOA, was elected as the first EOA Good Governance Officer. Numerous academies reported on their activities and projects and the way they deal with the current difficult situation.
On the second day, the four commissions (Olympic Education, Development and Cooperation, Olympic Heritage, Communication) reported their work and current developments. At the end of the meeting, the delegation of the Central Russian Olympic Academy, led by Prof. Natalia Melnikova, informed about the state of preparations for the Fourth EOA General Assembly, which is scheduled to take place from 12 to 16 October 2021 at the Russian International Olympic University in Sochi.
Since the turn of the year, a new EOA website offers comprehensive information and communication possibilities: https://eurolympic-academies.org.