The Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) are expecting to host IOC President Thomas Bach at its 42nd General Assembly in Nadi, Fiji in May this year.

President Bach has a close relationship with Oceania, the smallest of the five continents in the Olympic Movement but positioned in the world’s largest ocean and probably, the most challenging in terms of distance and isolation.

Road to PARIS 2024

Ricardo Blas, Secretary-General of ONOC also said, “The Oceania sport sector can also look forward to a vibrant, games-filled period in the Road to PARIS 2024, notwithstanding the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This, and a host of opportunities, are particularly important to athletes in Pacific Island countries and territories.”

Ricardo Blas, Secretary-General of the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) said that between now and 2024, Oceania will participate at the SAIPAN 2022 Pacific Mini Games in the Northern Marianas (June), BIRMINGHAM 2022 Commonwealth Games (July-August) and the HANGZHOU 2022 Asian Games (September).

He said, “Next year we have the Asian Beach Games in Sanya, China; the Asia Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Bangkok, Thailand; and the SOL2023 Pacific Games in Honiara.”

“These are all on the Road to the PARIS 2024 Summer Olympics.”

In a region which lacks competition opportunities, these are important to athlete development and buildup to the Paris Olympics.

ONOC ready to help Tonga Olympic family

Blas said ONOC faced a time of concern following the Tonga volcano eruption of 15 January when communications was lost with the island kingdom.

He said, “We were very relieved to receive a letter on 24 January from our Tonga National Olympic Committee (TASANOC) Secretary-General Takitoa Taumoepeau, sharing all staff and families were well.

“ONOC is ready to support TASANOC in its recovery efforts once assessments are completed and shared.”

All the colours of the Pacific lights up the closing ceremony of Tokyo 2020. Pacific island communities are rich in culture and heritage where communal living and sharing based on reciprocity can go a long way to supporting children. Photo: Inoke Bainimarama

Looking back at TOKYO 2020

Reflecting on the successful TOKYO 2020 Games, Blas said, “Oceania athletes benefited from partnerships that ONOC has nurtured over the years – the pre-Games Training Camps in Japan and the extension of the Olympic scholarships by the Olympic Solidarity Programme helped athletes prepare during the one-year postponement.”

He also said the support of the Australian Government through the Pacific-Australia Sports Partnership Programme was important in the preparation of Oceania athletes and teams to Tokyo.

Blas said, “TOKYO 2020 was the most successful outing for many countries of the world, including for our members in Oceania.”

He also said, “For Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nauru and the Solomon Islands, participation in Tokyo was made possible through an Air Nauru charter through the support of Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and facilitation by the Nauru National Olympic Committee (NNOC) President, Marcus Stephen and NNOC Executive Member and Chair of Nauru Airlines Dr Kieren Keke.”

ONOC support to NOCs in Tokyo

Blas spoke about the success of a continued ONOC Shared Services Programme which worked on the pooling of resources to share at the Olympics – a model only the NOCs of Oceania practice.

He said, “One of the most important elements of the Shared Services Programme is Medical Services as countries pool and share which was repeated in Tokyo.”

“We also had the benefit of journalist Makereta Komai on-ground in Tokyo through our partnership with the Pacific Islands News Association (PINA).”

Blas also said a new element trialed in the Tokyo Games was the Hybrid Shared Services Programme where an ONOC remote Support Team supported all NOCs remotely from Fiji and Palau.

Upcoming ONOC Continental meetings

Blas also announced two upcoming meetings for the ONOC membership in Oceania. The ONOC Secretaries-General Workshop scheduled for 8 to 12 March in Guam will also include Sports Education Officers, Sports Development Officers and Finance Officers.

The ONOC Annual General Assembly is scheduled for 3 to 8 May in Nadi, Fiji. IOC President Bach has confirmed his attendance. ONOC will also officially celebrate its 40th Anniversary and open its new ONOC headquarters in Suva.