Djibouti as hosts of the ongoing 17th Ordinary General Assembly heaved a sigh of relief after Thomas Bach, the current International Olympic Committee (IOC) eventually made it to the country to be part of the ongoing elective assembly.
It was gathered that the Olympic Supremo had earlier sent a message that he would not be able to make the event, which the country did not like and lunched diplomatic efforts to cause him to change his mind.
However, even when he changed his mind, he was compelled to overcome transportation problems to make the trip.
When Bach arrived after missing out on the opening ceremonies, attended by the country’s head of state Ismaïl Omar Guelleh; he profusely apologised, explaining that his aircraft had to be diverted after some certain country had refused to grant them passage to through their airspace over some political row.
There was apprehension that his absence could be the first time an IOC president could be failing to honour an ANOCA General Assembly in recent memory.
“It could have robbed the beautiful organisation of the event of colour; and what could have been a sign of fulfilment for the hosts, Djibouti.
“I am happy he came. We feel a sense of fulfilment now,’’ noted a top ranking Djiboutian member of the local organising committee, who pleaded anonymity.
Even for the delegates, it brought relief as well as Bach majestically walked into the Kempinski Palace Hotel, venue of the meeting to a standing ovation by delegates numbering no fewer 220.
Speculations were rife that he was skipping the meeting over ethics violation on which one of the presidential candidates – Malboum Kalkaba was indicted and temporarily disqualified from the election.
“I commend you all for the great assembly and the hospitality by the hosts since your arrival in the country.
“Your support and attendance at this event is far reaching in helping to sustain the drive for the promotion of Olympism and the Olympic ideals.
“There is no doubt that sport is contributing a great deal to the promotion of world peace and positively impacting on the quest for world peace.”
He said that ANOCA had so far done well in utilising the little funding from the Olympic Solidarity in supporting the African athletes to the Rio Games, where the continent made a record win of 45 medals, their best outing so far.
Bach, however, observed that he was pleased to note that ANOCA was not satisfied that with that record, but making frantic efforts to aspire to higher medal haul at the 2020 Games in Japan.
“I am happy that you want to strive for better records and opportunity at future Games. I wish you all the best.’’
He, urged, NOCs to strike better relationships with their Governments in a bid to be in positions to receiving support to achieve their goals.
He announced that the IOC had developed a template, which could form the basis for negotiating better Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
“MoU will help to open more doors and opportunities for support. Please make use of it when we make them available.’’ ##