The World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA’s) President, Witold Bańka; Vice-President, Yang Yang; and Director General, Olivier Niggli, spent time in Tokyo last week and this week to attend the 2020 Olympic Games; and, have taken advantage of the opportunity to meet face-to-face with a significant number of WADA’s Clean Sport partners.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olympic Games represent the first opportunity in 18 months for the international sports community to come together in-person. Therefore, many are taking advantage to meet face to face again while observing the COVID-19 protocols that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and local authorities have put in place.
Mr. Bańka said: “It has been great for WADA leadership to be able to meet our clean sport partners face to face after the long hiatus created by COVID-19. These personal interactions have given us a renewed sense of enthusiasm and fresh energy as we continue our collaborations with athletes, governments, sports and other stakeholders to pursue our athlete-focused mission for doping-free sport. It has also been wonderful to attend some of the sports events during the Games; and, to watch in awe as athletes showcase their excellence on the world’s biggest sporting stage.”
For Mr. Bańka, the visit kicked off on 20 July by delivering a speech to the 138thInternational Olympic Committee (IOC) Session, which focused on the Agency’s major activities; in particular, how WADA had worked with the anti-doping community worldwide to oversee a return to full testing capacity in the lead up to the Games.
On 23 July, Mr. Bańka was joined by Mr. Niggli and Ms. Yang to host WADA’s traditional pre-Olympic and Paralympic Games media conference, which included the Chair of the Agency’s Independent Observer Team for the Olympic Games, Dr. Francesca Rossi. Together, the group outlined WADA’s activities in advance of and during the 2020 Games and took the time to respond to questions from local and international media.
Later that day, Mr. Bańka, Ms. Yang and Mr. Niggli attended the opening ceremony of the Games.
Given that many sports ministers and public authority representatives responsible for anti-doping in their respective countries were also in Tokyo, WADA’s leadership team met up with:
- Richard Colbeck*, Australian Minister for Sports;
- Inés Arrondo, Argentina’s Secretary of Sports;
- Amina C. Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Sports, Heritage and Culture from Kenya;
- Gou Zhongwen and Yingchuan Li*, Minister and Vice-Minister responsible for Sport from China;
- Niwa Hideki*, Japanese State Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology; and
- HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal Al-Saud, Minister of Sports from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
These meetings provided a good platform for WADA leadership to reiterate the importance of government commitment to doping-free sport; to thank them for their ongoing support of WADA and of anti-doping; and, to discuss current and potential areas of collaboration.
During these meetings, Mr. Bańka took the opportunity to congratulate the government of Japan for its organization of the Games during such an unprecedented time; to discuss WADA’s support to the Chinese authorities in the area of anti-doping for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing; and, to congratulate the government of Australia for Brisbane’s selection as host of the 2032 Summer Games.
Beyond meeting with governments, WADA leadership also met with other anti-doping stakeholders including numerous members of the sports movement; the Chairman of the Japan Anti-Doping Agency, Prof. Hidenori Suzuki; and Dr. Isao Teshirogi, the President of Shionogi & Co. Ltd., the Japanese pharmaceutical company with which WADA signed a Memorandum of Understanding in June 2021 that ensures that the Agency is notified of any new Shionogi compounds or substances in development that have the potential for sports-related doping abuse.
The original article can be found here.