The International Olympic Committee (IOC) welcomes the new Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour published today by the World Health Organization (WHO), which outline recommendations for the amount of physical activity required to provide significant health benefits and mitigate health risks.

The new guidelines have been developed to enable countries around the world to introduce evidence-based national health policies and also provide recommendations on the association between sedentary behaviour and health outcomes.

The guidelines note that four to five million deaths per year could be averted if the global population was more physically active, and recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week for adults, and an average of 60 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity per day for children and adolescents.

In particular, the guidelines highlight how physical activity is good for hearts, bodies and minds, helping to prevent and manage conditions such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and cancer, which cause nearly three-quarters of deaths worldwide. In addition, they point to physical activity as helping to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and enhance thinking, learning and overall well-being.

SPORT AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY KEY IN RECOVERY PLANS

IOC Medical and Scientific Director Dr Richard Budgett joined a webinar hosted by WHO to discuss how the recommendations will support and enhance the IOC’s work to promote physical activity. “These new guidelines underline how sport and physical activity can contribute directly to physical and mental health and combating non-communicable diseases,” he said. “The recommendations come at an incredibly significant time, with the world still coming to terms with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We have seen during this time of lockdowns and physical distancing just how important it is to stay physically active. Having these evidence-based recommendations will hopefully encourage more countries to make sport and physical activity a key component of their COVID-19 recovery plans.”

IOC President Thomas Bach has previously called on the governments of the world to include sport in their post-coronavirus support initiatives and, in July, 118 Member States of the United Nations (UN) called for all States to include sport and physical activity in their COVID-19 recovery plans.

President Bach also highlighted on many occasions that sport can play a positive social role, but also an economic one, in helping the world to recover from the crisis: “Sport creates jobs, generates business activity, plays a significant economic role in many countries, all of which are vital elements as countries look to reopen their economies,” he said.

According to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed British Journal of Sports Medicine, doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every week (which is the lower end of the range recommended in the new WHO guidelines), would increase global gross domestic product (GDP) by between 0.15 and 0.24 per cent a year between now and 2050.

THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING “HEALTHY TOGETHER”

The IOC has been actively promoting physical activity during the pandemic through a campaign involving athletes around the world and encouraging people to get and stay active. This effort culminated in the Olympic Day celebrations on 23 June 2020 that introduced half a billion people to the world’s biggest digital Olympic workout.

Olympic Day was also celebrated with the launch of the “Healthy Together” campaign, in which the IOC teamed up with WHO and the United Nations to spotlight the collective effort and global collaboration needed to stay healthy and reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19.

The three organisations are working with local health authorities and Olympic athletes to help deliver important public health information through digital platforms, encouraging people to adopt or continue behaviours that will curtail the pandemic and to stay physically and mentally fit.

Since then, the IOC, through the Olympic Channel, has also continued to encourage people to stay active through a wide range of content, including workouts hosted by Olympians, tips from elite athletes and a series of videos on maintaining mental health.

SUPPORTING INITIATIVES TO ENCOURAGE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

The IOC’s commitment to promoting sport and physical activity, as reflected in Olympic Agenda 2020 – the strategic roadmap for the Olympic Movement – also includes annual development grants offered by its Sport and Active Society Commission.

The latest recipients, announced in November 2020, included four organisations that have developed inspiring projects encouraging the practice of regular physical activity and promoting the health and social benefits of sport. In particular, the recipient of the “Promotion of Sport and Physical Activity Participation through Innovation” category was an Argentinian project, entitled “Sportd”, which developed a running app for people who suffer from diabetes, to monitor and help ensure safe workouts.

Previously, the IOC has also supported initiatives such as the Global Active City programme, which has proved successful in significantly improving the health of participating cities’ inhabitants and increasing their participation in sport and physical activity.

The IOC and WHO have enjoyed a longstanding partnership since 1984, and in May 2020, the two organisations signed a new Cooperation Agreement, demonstrating their shared commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles, including physical activity, sport and active recreation, as a tool for health across the globe.

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) says its chief ethics and compliance officer is aware of allegations made against Gianni Infantino, after a sports management company called for the organisation to suspend the FIFA President over alleged breaches of the Olympic Charter.

Swiss sports management company Sport 7 reportedly lodged the complaint to the IOC regarding Infantino.

Swiss lawyer and Sport 7 principal partner Philippe Renz wrote to the IOC to request Infantino’s suspension.

Renz argues that, in particular, “the management of FIFA and its President are violating a whole host of provisions protecting sport, its integrity and that of the athletes” regarding transfer regulations.

The IOC confirmed it was aware of the complaint.

“The IOC Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer is aware of the allegations, but cannot make any further comments at this stage,” the IOC said in a statement.

Renz called for the IOC to “immediately open an investigation […] with a view to his exclusion from the IOC, and that it suspend him provisionally in the meantime, as Articles 3.8 and 59 of the Olympic Charter provide for the possibility,” according to French newspaper Le Monde.

“This file is a real crash test for the IOC

“Either it takes its responsibilities to ensure that FIFA also respects the principles of governance that it imposes on other international sports federations, or it fails, and then, it is the Swiss law of the association, which is far too incomplete, which will have to be thoroughly revised.”

FIFA reportedly declined to react immediately to the allegations.

Infantino, who is currently in quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus last week, became a member of the IOC in January.

He is currently the subject of a criminal investigation in Switzerland, with proceedings opened against the FIFA President in July over his relationship with Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber.

The case centres on undocumented meetings that Lauber and Infantino are alleged to have held in 2016 and 2017.

Infantino has insisted his innocence, saying the meetings “were in no way secret and most certainly not illegal”.

FIFA’s Ethics Commission has also cleared the organisation’s leader after opening and then closing an investigation. (Insidethegames)

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Sports have been warned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) not to join the Global Esports Federation (GEF).

The IOC’s Esports and Gaming Liaison Group (ELG), chaired by International Cycling Union President David Lappartient, has written to all to the summer and winter International Federations telling them they do not plan to recognise any organisation as the world governing body for esports.

The Singapore-based GEF was launched last December and is backed by Chinese technology company Tencent.

It was set up with the aim to "establish the credibility, legitimacy and prestige for esports" and build "an inclusive platform to bring together all the stakeholders from the esports industry to help shape the GEF mission and maximise the potential for esports and its participants".

The GEF has strong links to the Olympic Movement.

Its President is Chris Chan, secretary of the Singapore National Olympic Council, and its chief operating officer is Paul Foster, the IOC’s former head of protocol, events and hospitality.

At its launch, Chan set GEF the aim of Olympic Games inclusion, claiming they could help end the "misunderstanding" of esports, which continues to grow in popularity and has started to enter the Olympic Movement.

The GEF was set up as a rival to the South Korean-based International eSports Federation (IeSF), established in 2008 and whose mission it is to have esports recognised as a legitimate sport.

Since its launch, several Olympic sports have become members of the GEF, including archery, canoeing, karate, modern pentathlon, surfing, taekwondo and tennis.

The Olympic Council of Asia and the Commonwealth Games Federation have also signed agreements to work with the GEF.

The IeSF has not signed deals with any Olympic sports and instead channels its efforts into hosting the Esports World Championship, the organisation’s flagship competition where esports athletes represent their national teams.

The ELG - which also includes the Presidents of both the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF) and Association of International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF), Francesco Ricci Bitti and Gian Franco Kasper, respectively and Global Association of International Sports Federations (GAISF) head Raffaele Chiulli - revealed it does not plan to work exclusively with one organisation.

"The IOC position is that it does not and is not planning to recognise an esports federation," the letter from the ELG, seen by insidethegames, said.

"We have strong existing relations with the different stakeholders in the esports and gaming community, such as games publishers, platforms, athletes and players.

"We will maintain these direct relationships rather than working through a third party.

"Both of the organisations who reference themselves as esports federations have representatives on the ELG and we will continue to welcome the contribution of these individuals, however the IOC does not endorse or recognise any specific federation as a representative body in this area.

"This is a position shared by ASOIF, AIOWF and GAISF, and as a result we do not encourage Ifs to enter into a formal relationship with these organisations."

The potential inclusion of esports in the Olympic Games is a contentious topic but the ELG claimed the IOC remains "committed to supporting IFs in this area of innovation and engagement".

The group plans to organise a video working session with the International Federations prior to presenting its annual report on esports to the Olympic Summit in Lausanne on December 12.

"[The IOC] is actively engaged in exploring the opportunities and initiatives to engage directly with this young digital community in order to promote participation in sport, engagement with the Olympic Movement and promotion of Olympic values," the ELG letter said.

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A Bill which could put the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) on a collision course with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been unanimously approved by Federal lawmakers.

The United States House of Representatives in Washington D.C. today passed the "Empowering Olympic, Paralympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2020", which grants Congress the power to remove members of the USOPC Board of Directors.

The Bill, which will now be sent to US President Donald Trump for signature before October 13, also means Congress can decertify national governing bodies in the country if they fail to adhere to the Act.

Although mainly focused on protecting athletes in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal at USA Gymnastics, the Bill has already caught the attention of the IOC, which strictly prohibits Government interference in its National Olympic Committees.

The IOC has previously raised concerns over the Bill, while USOPC chief executive Sarah Hirshland also warned of the consequences for the organisation and the country's athletes if it were to come into law.

The USOPC has since dropped its opposition to the bill, spearheaded by Senators Jerry Moran and Richard Blumenthal.

In a statement sent to insidethegames, the IOC said it would "study and discuss the national legislation in detail" with the USOPC "to learn about their evaluation of this law".

The parts of the act concerning the USOPC Board and NGBs could come into effect as early as October 13 of next year, raising the possibility of the IOC suspending arguably the biggest NOC in the world less than six months before the opening of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.

"Team USA athletes had a big win in the halls of Congress today with the passing of the Empowering Olympic, Paralympic, and Amateur Athletes Act," Hirshland said in a statement.

"It will cement increases in athlete representation in the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements, improvements in athlete safety protections, and bolster transparency and accountability in our system.

"The USOPC Board has already approved two of the most sweeping governance reform updates in recent history, and a third phase is before the Board this fall.

"This legislation codifies many of those reforms, with the USOPC now positioned to move quickly to address any outstanding provisions and support the work of the Commission.

"This Bill underscores the value and necessity of the athlete voice and engagement in building stronger, and better, Olympic and Paralympic movements for current and future generations."

The IOC has suspended countries including Kuwait and India over Government interference in the past, and its President Thomas Bach sent another warning to Italian officials this week because of a controversial sports law in the nation.

While it seems unlikely the IOC will move to suspend the US, parts of the Bill appear to contravene the Olympic Charter.

IOC rules state the IOC Executive Board can take action, including suspension, "if the constitution, law or other regulations in force in the country concerned, or any act by any Governmental or other body, causes the activity of the NOC or the making or expression of its will to be hampered".

The USOPC is the largest benefactor from the IOC among the 206 NOCs.

According to the latest IOC accounts, from 2018, the USOPC received $90.8 million (£70.4 million/€77 million) of TOP distributions in 2017 and $89.3 million (£69.3 million/€76 million) in 2018.

This compared with just $81.3 million (£63.1 million/€69 million) in 2017 and $80.3 million (£62.3 million/€68 million) in 2018 to other NOCs.

The Bill may also see the formation of a 16-member commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympics in the near future,

It also requires the USOPC to give the US Center for SafeSport $20 million (£15.5 million/€17 million) in annual funding to do its work more effectively.

The act establishes safeguards designed to protect amateur athletes from abuse from coaches and other officials within Olympic and Paralympic sports.

Many of the reforms outlined in the bill have either been implemented or are in the process of being implemented by the USOPC, which came under fire following the sexual abuse scandal involving disgraced USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar.

insidethegames has contacted the IOC for comment.

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In 1915, there was nothing to suggest that Lausanne would become the epicentre of the sporting world. Today, the five interlocking rings welcome travellers as they arrive at the railway station – and this is by no means the only expression of the Olympic spirit in the city. While Lausanne, nestled on the northern shores of Lake Geneva, is now known internationally as the Olympic Capital, it owes this status to the resolve of a certain French baron who had fallen in love with the area, and to the terrible context of the First World War.

Read more: HOW LAUSANNE CAME TO MEET ITS OLYMPIC DESTINY