Istanbul mayor praises World Olympians Forum 2023

19 | 9 | 2023

Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu has praised the 150 Olympians from all over the world who came to Istanbul for two days of discussion, debate and learnings.

Over 100 countries were represented at the third World Olympians Forum whose aim was to spread best practices, hear from world experts and workshop how Olympians can more effectively spread the values of the Olympic Movement, the benefits of sport and physical activity and give back to their communities.

“I was so impressed with the level of knowledge and debate and the ideas that emerged from the World Olympians Forum,” said Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu who had given a keynote speech as part of the official opening ceremony along with welcome video messages from WOA Patron HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco OLY and WOA Honorary President, IOC President Thomas Bach OLY.

Mayor Imamoglu continued: “Our city is committed to the promotion of physical activity and sport to ensure our citizens can be as healthy and as happy as possible and so we can reverse the growing scourge of obesity and avoidable illness in our communities. At the World Olympians Forum we heard many ideas that can help us in our quest.”

The aim of the World Olympians Forum was to inspire and upskill Olympians and National Olympians Association representatives. The delegates heard from world experts including IOC Medical Commission member Professor Yannis Pitsiladis who spoke about the Global Alliance for the Promotion of Physical Activity and why the Global Alliance was so badly needed.  

Topics ranging from leveraging your Olympian image and developing Olympian leaders to creating a social business and fostering philanthropy for a better world were presented by the World Academy of Sport, the Yunus Sports Hub, the King Baudouin Foundation, Skillsbuild, Egoli founder Caroline Rowland and Dr Noemi Zaharia OLY.

An IOC Athletes Commission panel led by Chair Emma Terho OLY and moderated by IOC Athletes’ Department Director Kaveh Mehrabi OLY discussed the many IOC Athlete365 programmes and opportunities that can benefit Olympians and exchanged ideas on how National Olympians Associations and National Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commissions can work closely together to spread the values of the Olympic Movement and run programmes in their communities.

Spor Istanbul head Renay Onur spoke about the Istanbul Journey and how big cities and Olympians can work together to promote healthy lifestyles and the joys of sport and physical activity.   

WOA President Joël Bouzou OLY was very pleased with the outcome of the two days. He said: "This has been the best World Olympians Forum ever and shows how far we have come in the past eight years, the level of maturity our National Olympians Associations have achieved and the abilities of Olympians all over the world to help with social cohesion, bringing sport to disadvantaged communities, protecting the environment and teaching our young citizens the positive values of sport and the Olympic Movement.

“I would like to thank our generous hosts, the Istanbul Metropolitan Authority, and in particular Istanbul mayor Ekrem Imamoglu, whose infectious enthusiasm and deep understanding of the power of sport and physical activity to change society for the better was an inspiration to us all.”

The World Olympians Forum 2023 was livestreamed on the Turkish television network Sportstv and online on the WOA’s e-WOF digital platform. The World Olympians Forum 2023 is also available worldwide on demand on the Sportstv app.

Watch a short highlights video here.