For International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach, the Olympic community has managed to turn what has been a unique and challenging 2020 into lessons and opportunities.

In his New Year’s video message sent to the Olympic community today, President Bach recalls how the role of sport in different aspects of society has been strengthened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The role of sport for physical and mental health, the role of sport for our social life, the role of sport for our economic life has been recognised widely,” he says.

This has been achieved through a number of initiatives, including the “#StayStrong #StayActive #StayHealthy” campaign, a new cooperation agreement with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the “Healthy Together” campaign in partnership with the United Nations (UN) and WHO.

The same recognition has come from the UN General Assembly, which passed a resolution by consensus calling on the governments of the world to include sport in their recovery programmes. Both the General Assembly resolution and the latest G20 Leaders’ Summit declaration supported the forthcoming Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, to be held in 2021, and the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

The IOC President reaffirms that Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 will indeed be the priorities for the extraordinary Olympic year 2021.

“Tokyo is still the best prepared Olympic city ever. We can only thank our Japanese partners and friends for their great commitment and their determination, which is absolutely in line with our commitment and our determination to organise these Games in a safe and secure way for all the participants and to make these Olympic Games fit for the post-coronavirus world. We all will live unforgettable Games,” says Bach.

In addition, he explains that: “We have to already start at the beginning of this year to prepare for the upcoming Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022. And there, really all are on board. We see the same commitment and determination of our Chinese partners and friends, and all the Olympic venues are already ready for the best winter sports athletes of the world.”

Further indication of the importance of sport and the Olympic values in today’s world can be drawn from one of the lessons learned in 2020, according to Bach: “We need more solidarity. We need more solidarity within societies, and we need more solidarity among societies.”

“And we will learn from this lesson and, by learning from this lesson of solidarity, we will turn the challenges of the future into opportunities again. In this spirit, we will carry forward the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms to the future. I invite you to join us in these ongoing reforms and to live our motto of ‘change or be changed’ also in the years to come.”

See the full transcript of the IOC President’s New Year’s video message here.