The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said on Monday that its president, Thomas Bach, began his visit to the Caribbean and Central American National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in Costa Rica on Feb. 28.
The IOC said Bach was greeted in the Costa Rican capital, San José, by IOC member Laura Chinchilla and by the President of the NOC, Alexander Zamora.
He was also joined by the President of Panam Sports and IOC member, Neven Ilic, who accompanied the president throughout the entire tour of the region, the IOC said.
It said the first stop was the NOC headquarters, where he had the opportunity to meet and speak with athletes and young people from a range of sports, who also took part in a number of sports demonstrations.
The center, supported by Olympic Solidarity, has accommodation, where athletes can stay during training and preparation for competition.
The IOC president also had a meeting with the Executive Board of the NOC in which they discussed the prospects for the upcoming Pan American Games in Chile and the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
At a lunch organized by the NOC, the IOC said the president met a number of Costa Rican NOC members and Olympians.
Later, the president met Mary Munive, vice president of the republic and sports minister, with whom he discussed the contribution of sport to society and the support for Olympic sports and athletes in Costa Rica.
He finished the visit with a dinner with NOC members, athletes and local sponsors of the National Olympic Committee, the IOC said.
Arriving in Havana, Cuba, on Mar. 2, Bach was met by IOC member Maria de la Caridad Colón Ruenes, and Roberto León Richards Aguiar, NOC president.
They attended a joint meeting of the Cuban NOC and the Cuban Athletes’ Commission, the IOC said.
“They were able to discuss their situation and future plans,” it said.
After a visit to the newly refurbished headquarters of the Cuban NOC, the IOC said “there was a visit to the Coliseo de la Ciudad Deportiva, where the IOC president met a number of Olympic Solidarity scholarship-holders and other athletes and watched a sports demonstration.”
The day ended with a dinner hosted by the Deputy Prime Minister of Cuba, Jorge Luis Perdomo Di-Lella.
The next day, Bach attended the newly-refurbished national stadium, funded by Olympic Solidarity and Panam Sport.
“He watched a range of track and field sports being demonstrated,” the IOC said, adding that also present was Cuban 800m and 400m Olympic champion Alberto Juantorena.
In Cuba, Bach met the President of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel, where “they discussed the contribution that sport can make to society, and the challenges Cuban athletes are facing in their preparations for the upcoming Pan American Games and the Olympic Games Paris 2024,” the IOC said.
Arriving in Jamaica on Mar. 3, Bach was welcomed by the President of the Jamaica Olympic Association (JOA), Christopher Samuda, members of the Executive Committee and some of the presidents of national sports federations.
At a sports demonstration the next day, Bach met athletes from Olympic and non-Olympic sports.
After the sports demonstration, the IOC president spent more than an hour speaking with members of the JOA’s Athletes’ Commission and Olympians, the IOC said.
It said they discussed the upcoming Olympic Games Paris 2024 and qualification events, as well as a number of other issues concerning athletes, “from post-competition transition to the various support programs being offered to athletes by Olympic Solidarity.”
The next stop was the Dominican Republic, where Bach was welcomed in the capital, Santo Domingo, on Mar. 5by IOC member Luis Mejía Oviedo and the President of the NOC, Garibaldy Bautista.
On arrival, he was welcomed at a dinner by the President of CRESO [Creando Suenos Olimpicos], Felipe Vicini Lluberes.
“The organization brings together the leading companies to assist Olympic athletes in the country,” the IOC said. “It was an opportunity to discuss the assistance being given to the country’s athletes during and after their sporting careers.”
The next day, on a visit to the headquarters of the NOC, Bach met the Executive Board, “and there was a presentation and discussion of their work,” the IOC said.
“He then met Olympic Solidarity scholarship-holders from the country and a number of young athletes, who spoke about the many issues they are facing,” it said.
Later, Bach inaugurated the new Centro Caribe Sport headquarters in Santo Domingo.
Before leaving the Dominican Republic, the IOC said Bach met the President of the country, Luis Abinader.
“They discussed the role of sport in society and its importance during the pandemic, and in particular the importance of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, in this respect,” the IOC said. “President Bach thanked President Abinader for his support for the United Nation resolution of Dec. 1 (‘Sport as an enabler of Sustainable Development’),” the IOC said.
“President Abinader emphasized that his government wished to play an even more active role on this level, particularly with the ‘Friends of Sport’ group at the United Nations,” it added.
Arriving in Puerto Rico on Mar. 7, Bach was welcomed by the President of the NOC, Sara Rosario, and IOC member Richard Carrión.
At the headquarters of the NOC, Casa Olímpica, Bach met the NOC Executive Board before meeting the Athletes’ Commission for an extensive Q&A session, the IOC said.
“The evening saw a celebration of the 75th anniversary of the recognition of the NOC of Puerto Rico,” the IOC said.
To celebrate International Women’s Day on Mar. 8, BACH met a group of 70 female leaders and athletes.
“They discussed the role of women in sport and the many projects for empowerment,” the IOC said.
Later in the day, it said Bach attended various sports demonstrations and “had a chance to meet and talk with many young athletes from the country.”
After meeting the Acting Head of State, Lt. Gov. Omar Marrero, in San Juan, Bach headed for a Puerto Rican school for young athletes, where he met “hundreds of pupils who are able to study whilst having the chance to train for their sports.”
Earlier, he was at the Albergue Olímpico, which also houses the Olympic Museum, the IOC said.
In Barbados, on Mar. 8, Bach was welcomed by the President of the NOC, Sandra Osborne, and IOC honorary member Sir Austin Sealy.
Before touring a number of sports facilities and meeting many young athletes, the IOC said Back met Barbadian Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley and President Sandra Mason.
“With the prime minister, the IOC President discussed the very positive development of sport in Barbados,” the IOC said.
“President Bach was also happy to hear that, in her UN role as co-chair of the Sustainable Development Goals Advocates Group, the prime minister also very much appreciated the Olympic Movement’s role in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals,” the IOC said. “The two agreed on close cooperation in this respect.”
The next day, Bach opened the National Primary Schools Athletic Championships (NAPSAC) in Bridgetown, the Barbados capital.
“Hundreds of pupils were in attendance for the finals, which brought together young athletes from all over the island,” the IOC said. “President Bach was able to meet many of them and presented the first medals.”
The last leg of the visit to the region took Bach to Aruba on Mar. 10, where he was welcomed by IOC Vice-President Nicole Hoevertsz and NOC President Wanda Broeksema.
In Aruba, Bach met the Governor J. A. Boekhoudt, and then the island’s Council of Ministers, headed by the country’s Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes.
“They discussed the important role that sport can play in society to instill values with regard to education, health and sustainable development,” the IOC said.
Later, Bach met the Executive Board of the NOC and also took part in discussions with the local business community and sponsors.
The next day, the IOC said he officially opened the new NOC headquarters and took part in the celebrations that included sports demonstrations by hundreds of young athletes from the island in 16 different sports.