[Source: IOC)] IOC Honorary Members Beatrice Allen, Sir Craig Reedie and Ung Chang, as well as Andrzej Kraśnicki, the former President of the National Olympic Committee of Poland, were today awarded Olympic Orders in a ceremony held during the 141st IOC Session in Mumbai, India. All awardees were introduced by HSH Princess Nora of Liechtenstein, Delegate Member for Protocol.
Beatrice Allen, from Gambia, was an IOC Member from 2006 to 2020. An expert in international development and gender issues, Mrs Allen enjoyed a long and storied career in her native Gambia as well as internationally within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Mrs Allen also occupied numerous positions within sporting institutions in Gambia as well as being a member of several IOC Commissions.
Presenting her with the Olympic Order, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “You have dedicated your life to making the world a better place through sport and to improving the lives of our fellow human beings.” Emphasising Mrs Allen’s role as a tireless advocate for gender equality, President Bach continued: “Promoting women in and through sport has been a central theme throughout your career. Whether as the Head of the Gambia Softball Association, as Chair of the ANOCA Women and Sports Commission, whether as Vice President of the World Baseball Softball Confederation or as President of the Gambian NOC – you have made it your mission to advance the role of women on and off the field of play. For over a decade, the IOC has been able to count on your great experience, especially the many IOC Commissions where you actively contributed with all your expertise, knowledge and insight. With your vision, your energy and exceptional personality, you have made your mark in the Olympic Movement and for this we will always be grateful.”
Sir Craig Reedie joined the IOC membership in 1994. A keen sportsman, Sir Craig began his sporting career as a national and international badminton player. After retiring from competitive sport, he went on to make a name for himself as a leading sports administrator. His early foray into sports administration was within his own sport as Chair the Scottish Badminton Union. He subsequently rose to become President of the International Badminton Federation, where he led the successful campaign to include badminton on the Olympic programme. He chaired the British Olympic Association for over a decade, during which he played a key role in London's successful bid for the Olympic Games 2012. He was a key figure in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Praising Sir Craig’s contribution to the IOC and the Olympic Movement, President Bach explained: “He joined the IOC in 1994, bringing his expertise to bear in numerous IOC Commissions, and later on as well as a member of the IOC Executive Board and IOC Vice-President.” Addressing him directly, President Bach said: “Dear Craig, as the third President of the World Anti-Doping Agency, you had to go through some of the most difficult periods of this organisation. But with all your diplomatic skills, your good sense of humour and your openness, you finally managed to navigate the rough waters and finally steadied the ship.”
Both Mrs Allen and Sir Craig should have received their Olympic Orders in 2021 and 2022 respectively, however with the global pandemic and the associated restrictions, the IOC chose to wait to award them for a time when it was possible to celebrate them in person among friends and colleagues.
A third Olympic order was awarded IOC Honorary Member Ung Chang of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), who joined the ceremony by video link. In his absence, the Order was collected by his son, John Chang.
Addressing the assembled audience, President Bach explained: “For decades, Ung Chang has been a driving force to promote the role of sport in the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea. [He] was always the bridge connecting the Olympic Movement with the Olympic community in the DPRK. Throughout his illustrious career in sport, whether at the National Olympic Committee, at the Olympic Council of Asia, as IOC Member and as an active member of many IOC Commissions, Ung Chang was above all a trusted advisor, who always built bridges of friendship and understanding through sport and its values. He continues to do so today even as IOC Honorary Member, ensuring that the DPRK athletes will always be a part our Olympic community.”
Addressing Mr Chang directly, President Bach said: “My dear friend, even before my election as IOC President, I could always turn to you for your advice and your wisdom. This trustful connection even deepened, and this proved to be invaluable in addressing the often complex challenges that we faced together.” He continued: “Ahead of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, you again played an essential role when it came to the negotiations about the participation of the NOC of the DPRK in PyeongChang. Again, you were the bridge connecting the DPRK to the wider Olympic Movement in the discussions leading to the Lausanne Declaration – the agreement that made the participation of the athletes of the DPRK in PyeongChang possible. […] you made a great contribution which ultimately led to the unforgettable Opening Ceremony, when the athletes from the Republic of Korea and the DPRK marched together as one team behind one flag, the Korean Unification Flag, sending a powerful message of peace to the world. For this, we will always be grateful to you.”
The final Olympic Order of the Session was awarded to Mr Andrzej Kraśnicki, the former President of the National Olympic Committee of Poland.
Describing Mr Kraśnicki’s contribution to sport, President Bach said: “The strong standing of Polish sport in the world today is the result of a long journey of modernisation. The person who took this modernisation to new heights is Andrzej Kraśnicki – a highly respected leader. Highly respected by the athletes, the Olympic community in Poland but also highly respected by the world of politics, business and culture in his country. He put all these great relationships at the service of sport in his country. It was under his leadership – and thanks to the respect that he also enjoyed at the European level – that the European Games were awarded to Poland. As IOC President, I am very grateful that he strengthened the Olympic Movement in Poland – always defending and promoting the autonomy of sport – and for being such a reliable partner of the IOC.”
Addressing Mr Kraśnicki directly, President Bach said: “I always knew that you were a person with a big heart, which you always showed to me and to so many of your friends. But it was during the difficult times that your big heart and especially your compassionate human side shone most brightly. Your humanity was plain for all to see when the Polish NOC under your leadership received countless athletes and members of the Ukrainian Olympic community who were fleeing their county after the Russian invasion. In this time of their greatest need, you offered shelter and assistance, you opened the facilities of Polish sport to them. You stood by their side in their darkest hour and it is acts of solidarity like these why we all admire you. Not only as a great sports leader but as a true humanitarian. You really have made the world a better place through sport, my dear friend.”
Among the other personalities honoured during the Session were Mr Mamadou Ndiaye of Senegal, who was elected to the membership in 2015. Although he is stepping down at the end of 2023, Mr Ndiaye will remain a member of the IOC Commission for the Coordination of the Games of the XXXIII Olympiad Paris 2024 and will be closely involved in the 4th Summer Youth Olympic Games Dakar 2026.
The Olympic Order is the highest award of the IOC, given for distinguished contributions to the Olympic Movement.
Ed: Sir Craig Reedie GBE is the long-standing chairman of Host City, having spoken at every edition since its launch in 2014.