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ANOC, IOC Leaders Tout Plans To Boost Olympic Movement’s Influence

By Gabe Hiatt | Oct. 29, 2015, 4:24 p.m. (ET)

IOC President Thomas Bach speaks at the the XX ANOC General Assembly at the Hilton Hotel on Oct. 29, 2015 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Seventeen days during the Olympic Games are not enough.

That was the message reinforced by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, Association of National Olympic Committees President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, Olympic Broadcasting Services CEO Yiannis Exarchos and other speakers Thursday at the XX ANOC General Assembly in Washington, D.C.

The IOC, by partnering with the ANOC, desires an Olympic Movement that doesn’t just appreciate the athletic feats achieved during the Games, but rather one that uses the platform to enact social change. According to Bach and ANOC leaders, Olympic stakeholders have a responsibility to the world as visible leaders in pillars of sustainability, credibility and youth engagement.

By building on the momentum of a unanimously approved Olympic Agenda 2020 and strengthening its connection with the United Nations, the IOC aims to use its influence for sustainable development and peace building. In addition to those commitments, the development of a digitally native Olympic channel could help NOCs reach a new generation with the power of sport 365 days a year.

With the Olympic Agenda 2020, “We all showed that we are ready to drive the change and we are not waiting until we are driven to change,” Bach said. “Driving the change was very much important. I must say we were lacking.”

Bach said all five cities bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games have adopted the sustainable reforms outlined in the Olympic Agenda, reforms that he said have already saved the movement the equivalent of $1.7 billion.

“I can tell you that there is more in the pipeline to come, and (we are) making these savings without harming or jeopardizing the delivery of the Games,” Bach said.

Regarding the pillar of credibility, Bach reminded the NOC representatives in attendance that they had access to a $20 million fund set up by IOC for the purpose of protecting clean athletes.

He said the money is intended for cooperation with the World Anti-Doping Agency as well as research and development of more innovative, effective testing for performance enhancing drugs.

Another group Bach urged the ANOC crowd to support was the world’s population of refugees.

“More than 60 million people on our planet are at this time refugees,” Bach said. “Sport, we cannot ignore this challenge. We cannot ignore the fate of these people that have to flee their homes because of conflict violence or hunger.”

According to Bach, the IOC has been assisting a special envoy to the U.N. on the issue and has created a fund of $2 million for the NOCs to use in assisting refugees through sport. Bach urged NOCs to identify and support high-level athletes among the refugee population because one refugee participating in the Olympic Games could give hope and pride to the entire group.

Financial credibility was a point of emphasis, with Bach urging each NOC to take a hard look at its rules and regulations and rely on IOC’s guidance in order to set a high standard.

Sheikh Ahmad, who is also a member of the FIFA executive committee, warned the group about the difficulty of regaining lost credibility. He said he is working with François Carrard, the chairman of the 2016 FIFA Reform Committee, to reform the international soccer federation in the wake of corruption charges.

“Everyone is following what’s going on with FIFA,” Sheikh Ahmad said. “After this damage, how can we bring the image back? We are working hard.”

Before leaders of Continental Associations issued their reports, Sheikh Ahmad welcomed new NOCs for Kosovo and South Sudan to address the crowd.

“Instead of arming (our people) with guns, we will try to arm them with sports facilities,” South Sudan NOC President Wilson Deng Kuoirot said while making the first assembly address for the newest officially recognized ANOC member.

The assembly called upon Exarchos and Timo Lumme, the managing director of IOC television and marketing services, to explain how the creation of the digital Olympic channel would broaden the reach of the movement’s message.

As part of a desire to engage and educate youth athletes, Exarchos explained how the digital channel built for mobile viewing would target a consumer called the “youthful sports explorer.” Lumme said because the average person has four social media accounts, establishing a powerful social presence was mandatory.

NOCs will be called upon to contribute local stories. In turn, they will be rewarded with new revenue streams. Exarchos and Lumme said the platform was still in early stages of development and would need help from the ANOC to reach its goals.

Although the IOC has 40,000 hours of archival material, the officials believe the channel would require original content to reach active, smart consumers who will be drawn by their digital curiosity and captured by a mission to move, transform and inspire.

“They were born digital,” Exarchos said. “They believe they can make a positive change in the world, which is what the Olympic Movement is all about.”

The ANOC Awards 2015 can be streamed live at 8 p.m. ET Thursday at http://acnolympic.org-live.info.

Gabe Hiatt is a writer based in Washington, D.C. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.