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Four lifters integrate the 2024 IWF Refugee Team

The IWF is happy to announce its Refugee Team for the year 2024, comprised of four athletes: Parisa Jahanfekrian (originally from Iran, but residing in Germany), Aline de Souza and Monique Araujo (both from Brazil, but presently based in the USA), and Addriel Garcia (Cuba/Italy). These lifters were already part of the first-ever programme in 2023, and will therefore have additional opportunities during the upcoming months to compete at the IWF events. Applicants for the team could apply until January 31, 2024. Besides these athletes, directly selected by the IWF, all lifters that are part of the IOC Refugee Team will also join the group. In 2024, the selected coach to manage the team in Aveenash Pandoo, former IWF Coaching and Research Committee Member, currently working as Head Coach in Abu Dhabi Weightlifting Club. The team is completed by Hussein Elsettawi, a physiotherapist. Monique Araujo (BRA) In accordance with the eligibility rules for the IWF Refugee Team (the 2024 Policy can be consulted here), athletes must be officially recognised as refugees in their country, in accordance with the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and may be entered in IWF events. Asylum seekers are not accepted in the programme and all lifters are required to have a travel document and must comply with article 5.5.16 of the IWF Anti-Doping Rules, by which whereabouts information of the athletes shall be submitted at minimum three months prior to the event. Finally, all athletes and support personnel must complete the WADA ADEL online course before competing and present their certificate to the IWF/ITA. In accordance with article 17.2.2 of the IWF Anti-Doping Rules, the IWF may also decide to request that athletes complete education activities before and/or during their participation in selected events as a condition of such participation. The 2024 IWF Refugee Team programme will be effective until the conclusion of the IWF World Championships, next December in Manama (BRN). While these athletes are not part of the Olympic Qualification system (with the exception of the lifters included in the IOC scholarship holders’ list), they will be able to attend IWF competitions throughout the year and will be invited to take part in at least one training camp during the year. “After a very successful launch of the IWF Refugee Team in 2023, we are pleased to proceed with the programme. This is once in a lifetime opportunity for these lifters, and I will personally never forget the satisfaction of the two Brazilian lifters who were able to compete at last year’s IWF World Championships in Riyadh. These athletes have experienced quite challenging situations during their existence, but their passion for the sport remained unchanged,” considered the IWF President Mohammed Jalood. “I wish all the lifters included in this group the best luck and I look forward to seeing them performing at the highest level in our competitions,” concluded Mr Jalood. IWF

Achilleas Tsogas appointed as new IWF CEO

The IWF is happy to announce the hiring of Achilleas Tsogas, as CEO of our International Federation, taking his functions from March 1, 2024 at the headquarters in Lausanne (SUI). With an extensive and solid experience in Sports Management, Mr Achilleas was previously working at the International Olympic Committee for more than eight years, firstly in the Olympic Games department, in the Youth Olympic Games unit and successfully delivered three Youth Olympic Games before transitioning to the sports department. Within the summer sports team, Achilleas was responsible for the combat sports, as well as for weightlifting, and the key contact person for all elements related to the Olympic Movement for the relevant International Federations. Before his IOC involvement, the new IWF CEO held several managerial roles in the organising committees of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, but also in other international, renowned events around the globe, namely the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Mediterranean Games, Arab Games and European Games. Originally a judo athlete and member of the Greek national team, he relocated to Australia and became a member of the Sport department of the organising committee of the Olympic Games Sydney 2000. Following that, he became the sport’s competition manager at the Olympic Games Athens 2004, having being also successfully involved in the Judo World Championships in 2001, 2003 and 2005, as an additional member of the IJF Sport commission. Mr Achilleas is of Hellenic nationality and is fluent in his Greek and English, while having an intermediate level in French and Japanese. In his native Greece, he was also the man behind the creation and management of several sport clubs around the country. Education-wise, his bachelor degree in Physical Education and Sports Science, obtained in Athens, was complemented by a Masters in Sport Management at the University of Technology, Graduate School of Business, in Sydney (AUS). “We are extremely satisfied with the appointment of Mr Tsogas as our new CEO, as we believe his confirmed experience will be an added-value for the International Weightlifting Federation. In his previous functions at the IOC, he could witness the progress we have made in many essential areas; I am sure he will be pivotal for the reinforcement of our sustained and continuous development,” considered the IWF President Mohammed Jalood. “It is a great pleasure and honour for me to embark on this new exciting journey with the IWF/Weightlifting Family. I have been privileged to undertake diverse sports event positions around the world in which I was able to successfully co-operate with various organisations and groups of people coming from different cultural and sporting backgrounds and look forward to bringing all the experience to the best use in my new role.. I would like to thank President Jalood and the entire Executive Board for the confidence and trust and to ensure them that I will use at the best my experience to drive the IWF to new heights as a global sport and continue to strengthen the position of Weightlifting within the Olympic Movement,” said the new IWF CEO. IWF

Weightlifting confirmed on the programme of the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028

Weightlifting has today been confirmed on the programme of the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028, following a vote of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Mumbai, India.   It comes after the IOC Executive Board and Olympic Programme Commission recommended the sport for inclusion as part of their discussions last week.   Today’s news protects the dreams and ambitions of millions of athletes around the world and provides much needed certainty for all stakeholders of the sport.    It reflects strong progress being made in governance and anti-doping reform under the leadership of the refreshed IWF Executive Board elected in June last year. The IOC Session in Mumbai (IND) Since his appointment, IWF President Mohammed Jalood has prioritised dialogue and action to put weightlifting on the path to a new and stronger future in line with the criteria set out for the sport to remain on the Olympic programme.   Reacting to the vote, President Jalood said: “My first thoughts today are for our global weightlifting community – and especially the athletes – for whom this news will be both a great relief and a cause for rejoicing.   “It is thanks to everyone’s collective efforts that we are here today, and we thank the members of the International Olympic Committee for recognising our unity, commitment to change, and the great strides we are making as a sport.   “Today is a moment for weightlifting to celebrate, but it should not be seen as an end. We must – and will – continue, in line with our strategic priorities, towards a new future for weightlifting as a healthy, modern, and athlete-centred sport.”   IWF President Mohammed Jalood (right) and IWF Secretary General Antonio Urso in Mumbai (IND) Antonio Urso, IWF Secretary General considered: “This is the result of a very hard work and commitment from the IWF family to a change of culture in our sport. The initial shockwave provoked by our exclusion from the Olympic programme in 2028 definitively obliged us to choose a new direction, with a renovated team since June 2022.    “Working united, in a transparent and determined way, we made a massive improvement in two of the domains that needed more attention: good governance and anti-doping policy. Through a constructive and continuous dialogue with the IOC, this shift was duly valued and our beloved Sport is back to the place it deserves, the Olympic arena.    “This is only the first step; we must continue to prove our value, reliability, and accountability in a very competitive sports environment. Our athletes and fans around the world certainly deserve that.”   Ursula Papandrea, IWF First Vice-President, stated: “This is of course the best possible news for the weightlifting family! Our athletes, coaches, and officials devoting their lives to this sport in the five continents deserve this recognition for their passion and hard work. At the level of the IWF management, this is also a fair tribute to the immense transformation our Federation has undergone since the last elections of the Board in June 2022. IWF First Vice-President Ursula Papandrea “Concepts such integrity, good governance, safeguarding, transparency, gender equity, athlete representation, or human rights are now part of the IWF language and practice. This is a fundamental change in the way we operate and govern the sport on a global level. But we must never rest on our laurels: this tireless effort must continue, so that we can remain and reinforce our added value in the Games’ programme in particular, and in the Olympic Movement in general.”   IWF Athletes Commission Chair Forrester Osei Forrester Osei, IWF Athletes Commission Chair, said: “On behalf of all our great athletes, I cannot hide my satisfaction for this unforgettable milestone! The reinstatement of our Sport in the Olympic programme is a solid proof that the IWF is now considered a respected and reliable organisation. Its efforts in keeping the Athletes at the core of its functioning have proved essential in this successful strategy. Reforms allowing the direct election of the Athletes Commission (AC) members by its peers, or the inclusion in the Board and Congress of three AC representatives, with full voting rights, clearly show the IWF’s determination to change the culture of the sport.    “We feel we are heard and we are actively taking part in the decision-making process. Our involvement in the recent establishment of the first-ever IWF Strategic Plan is also evidence that lifters are properly considered at the IWF level. From now on, we sincerely hope that Los Angeles 2028 is only the first stop in a long road of positive achievements for the weightlifting family. In this so happy moment, the role of our President Mohammed Jalood and all colleagues from the IWF Board need to be recognised and duly appreciated”.   Hidilyn Diaz, IWF Athletes Commission member and first-ever Olympic gold medallist for the Philippines, considered: “The Olympic Games is the supreme goal for all the athletes competing in sports. I am in a good position to know the value and importance of taking part in the greatest sports event on the planet! Knowing that weightlifting has been confirmed in the Los Angeles 2028 programme is a great joy for all of us. Our Sport is one of the founding ones in Olympic history, being present already in the first edition of the Games, in 1896. It also symbolises like no other the notion of ‘Fortius’ (Stronger), present in the Olympic motto.  Hidilyn Diaz (PHI) “I am sure the IOC will not regret this so important decision; it is now up to us to continue honouring the Olympic principles and values. In this moment of satisfaction, I must thank the IWF President Mohammed Jalood and the entire IWF leadership for their vision and their hard work for the benefit of weightlifting and its athletes around the world”. By IWF

IWF welcomes IOC Executive Board recommendation on weightlifting in the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) welcomes today’s recommendation that weightlifting be confirmed on the programme of the Olympic Games Los Angeles 2028. The proposal, made by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Olympic Programme Commission and approved by the IOC Executive Board, will be final if it is ratified by a vote of the IOC Session taking place in Mumbai, India on Monday, October 16, 2023. It follows many months of productive dialogue between the IWF and IOC teams, during which the IWF has had an opportunity to present the wide-ranging governance reform and significantly reinforced clean sport programmes being implemented following the election of a new IWF President and Executive Board in June 2022. IWF President Mohammed Jalood IWF President Mohammed Jalood said: “We are encouraged by this crucial step forward in our efforts to secure the dreams of millions of young weightlifters around the world. “On behalf of those athletes, and everyone throughout the global weightlifting family, we wish to extend our thanks to the IOC’s Olympic Programme Commission, its Sport Department and Executive Board for the fair and rigorous process undertaken – and for their guidance in helping us shape a new future for our sport. “Today’s recommendation, subject to the approval of the IOC Session, is testament to the wide-ranging programme of governance reform undertaken by the new IWF Executive Board since our election last year. It recognises, too, the great spirit of unity and openness to change throughout the IWF’s 194 national member federations and five continental federations, who are crucial to the progress we are making. Cyrille Tchatchet, from the Olympic Refugee Team, at the Toyko 2020 Games “The work to deliver a stronger, healthier, more athlete-centred modern sport will continue according to the roadmap set out by our new IWF Strategic Plan – the product of the broadest-ever consultation in the history of weightlifting. “It is fitting that this recommendation should come as we embark on the implementation phase of our new strategy and on the heels of an IWF World Championships which once again highlighted the exceptional universality of our sport and its most youthful talent. “It is with the interests of those athletes at heart that we look towards Monday’s vote of the IOC Session with renewed optimism and determination.”

IWF Congress: Unity of the weightlifting family allows unanimous approval of revised Constitution and new Strategic Plan

The IWF lived an extraordinary moment of unity on September 12, on the occasion of its Congress in Riyadh (KSA), the host city of the 2023 IWF World Championships. Two main documents for the future of the International Federations were approved by unanimity: the 2024-2032 IWF Strategic Plan, and the revision of the IWF Constitution.    At the end of the gathering, the IWF President Mohammed Jalood highlighted the importance of the moment: “We showed a great determination to continue building a great future for weightlifting. I am very thankful for the positive spirit of our Member National Federations in the five continents, which clearly know what our priorities are: remain a strong partner in the Olympic movement, reinforce the principles of good governance, and ensure all is done to keep our sport clean”. Mohammed Jalood, IWF President Concerning the first-ever IWF Strategic Plan, it received unanimous support, with 114 delegates validating this essential roadmap in the life of the IWF.    “This Plan resulted from a profound reflection on what is the IWF today and what it should be in the years to come. A transparent, honest, and realistic discussion took place within the weightlifting family – and this diagnosis is the starting point for what comes next. And from now on, what and how shall we develop? How to modernise our organisation? How to adapt it to the 21st-century requirements, in a very competitive international sports environment?” considered Pedro Adrega, the IWF Interim CEO and Chair of the Working Group in charge of the elaboration of this document.   Mr Adrega then summarised each of the four pillars of the Strategic Plan. “The first one is the most obvious one – Athletes. The second pillar is also quite straightforward – Events. The third pillar aims at keeping the IWF safe. And finally, the fourth pillar looks at reaching the best results beyond the IWF”.   Considering that this is only “the first stone in an enormous building”, the also IWF Communications and Marketing Manager made a strong appeal to all delegates present in the room: “But we must not be complacent. The competition is hard. Many new sports want to enter the Olympic club and we cannot rest on our laurels. We cannot take our position for granted. We need to fight – every day, in every action we plan and do. We need to strive for excellence, for great performances, as our athletes do all the time. Let’s get inspired by them, by their devotion to the Sport they love. We have now an additional, important tool to help us do things well. Let’s do them, together, in a spirit of unity, solidarity, and mutual support!” Mr Adrega finalised. Pedro Adrega, IWF Interim CEO and Communications Manager For the Constitution, the support was even more substantial, with a total of 139 positive votes, a unanimous validation of the document. For a successful revision of this document, a 75% majority was needed: it reached 85.2% of the IWF full members.    The update of the IWF Constitution (approved in August 2021) included a formal review of the text, in order to simplify the reading and understanding of its content. Specific amendments clarify membership procedures of National Member Federations, the regulation of continental and regional associations, the call for ordinary, special and electoral congresses, the revised quorum for approval of constitutional changes (from 3/4 to 2/3 of the members), the separation in the functions of the General Secretary and the Treasurer, precisions regarding the terms of office (namely for Executive Board ex-officio members), and updates on the appointment of the CEO.  Members of the IWF Strategic Plan Working Group: Besim Hasani, Maria Cseresnyes, Pedro Adrega, Hidilyn Diaz, Helga Hakonardottir and Attila Adamfi “We have now a Constitution that is more adapted to the modern functioning of our Federation. We haven’t changed any substantial aspect related to good governance mechanisms, we have simply added some precisions to facilitate their implementation,” concluded a “very happy” IWF President at the end of the Congress.   The IWF Congress also approved the 2022 IWF Audited Financial Statements, and all the activity reports from the several IWF Committees and Commissions: Technical, Medical, Coaching and Research, Development and Education Programme, and Athletes.    On the Anti-Doping activities, Benjamin Cohen, Director General of the International Testing Agency (ITA) made a short presentation on the “successful partnership with the IWF”. Mr Cohen underlined the excellent level of co-operation between the two entities – the ITA is managing the entirety of the IWF anti-doping activities – and expressed his hope that in the future “the IWF can progressively reduce the enormous part of its budget dedicated to the fight against doping. These resources could certainly be used for additional Development activities”.   Finally, several personalities connected to the world of weightlifting were awarded by the IWF. The Collar was given to Ursula Papandrea (USA), Sam Coffa (AUS), Craig Walker (CAN), Intarat Yodbangtoey (THA), and Chang Chao-Kuo (TPE), while the Hall of Fame distinction went to Kyle Pierce (USA) and Sabah Abdi Abdulah (IRQ, posthumous).    IWF Communications   Photos by Giorgio

IWF EB Meeting in Riyadh: Another successful step forward!

Under the leadership of President Mohammed Jalood, the IWF Executive Board (EB) had a two-day meeting on September 10-11, on the occasion of a very successful 2023 edition of the IWF World Championships, taking place in Riyadh (KSA).    Welcoming his EB colleagues, Mr Jalood underlined that this is a “very decisive moment in the history of our International Federation, on the eve of the IOC decision related to the 2028 Olympic Games programme”. The IWF President then recalled that “the weightlifting family is working united for the development of the sport, as much progress has been seen since the election of the EB in June 2022”. The staging of the 2023 IWF showcase in Riyadh was cited as a good example of “how the IWF improved the organisation of its events. The bar was set very high here – we have a record number of athletes and participating countries, in a very beautiful venue. The Saudi authorities have produced a great show and have ensured the best possible conditions to all participants in these Championships, a mandatory competition for all those aspiring to compete in Paris next year at the Olympic Games”.   Mr Mohammed Al-Harbi, EB member and President of the Riyadh 2023 Organising Committee welcomed all his colleagues in Saudi Arabia and expressed his gratitude for the “IWF’s trust in awarding this so important competition to Riyadh”. Mr Al-Harbi then highlighted the “amazing efforts” of all authorities to ensure participants could enter the country. “Some delegations had some challenges in getting their visa, but at the end of the day, thanks to our effort and determination, they could be present and compete here”.   The main decisions and discussions at the IWF Executive Board meeting were:   - Unanimous validation of the final draft 2024-2032 IWF Strategic Plan, pending the official approval by the IWF Congress. This fundamental roadmap results from the broadest-ever consultation within the IWF Family, thus being a collective and consensual document, highlighting the main areas of attention and the necessary actions to implement them. Moreover, the Working Group in charge of the elaboration of this Plan will be kept in place, from now on as the Strategic Plan Monitoring Group;   - The Chair of the IWF Anti-Doping Commission, Mr Rune Andersen, announced that the pre-Olympic testing programme is on “the right track” and that the categorisation of National Member Federations will be enforced from November 1, 2023. According to this categorisation, IWF members will be included in three different groups, taking into account their doping history and many other criteria related to their national anti-doping strategy. For the nations in the A group, a minimum of two out-of-competition tests will be mandatory for eligible athletes for the Paris Games, while educational anti-doping courses are also compulsory; in the B group, the requirements include one test per athlete and optional education; countries in C group won’t need to fulfil any special requirements. The list of countries in each category is to be announced in October by the International Testing Agency (ITA); Mohammed Jalood (IWF President) and Ursula Papandrea (IWF First Vice-President) - Approval of a Working Group in charge of the implementation of the Gender Identity Policy. The first competition to be covered by these guidelines will be the IWF World Junior Championships, to be held in November in Guadalajara (MEX);    - The IWF Technical Committee also presented its recommendations, which include the implementation of a new, more modern TIS system, and the eventual creation of athlete’s qualification quotas at the IWF World Championships;   - Unanimous ratification of the 2022 IWF Audited Financial Statements, pending the final approval of the IWF Congress;    - Related to the Development Programme, and in co-operation with the Olympic Solidarity, a training camp with 10 young athletes (one male/one female per continent) is to be held in Mexico, prior to the staging of the IWF World Junior Championships in November. Moreover, a new update on the Coaches Licence Programme was also given to EB members – in Europe, a pilot programme will, for example, involve 300 coaches from 43 nations. Finally, new criteria and standards will be created to implement the IWF Academies – a project that is presently involving three universities in three continents (Americas – Cuba; Asia – China; Europa – Bulgaria); Forrester Osei (IWF Athletes Commission Chair) - The IWF Athletes Commission (AC) successfully presented its ideas concerning the reinforcement of the resources and number of lifters involved in the second “edition” of the “Direct Support Programme”, starting after the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Moreover, the AC is studying the future implementation of an Athlete Transition Programme, aimed at supporting lifters after the conclusion of their competitive career;   - The EB also praised the success of the IWF Refugee Team programme, launched in 2023, which allowed the participation of three athletes at the IWF World Championships here in Riyadh. Two lifters from the team will also be invited to take part in the EWF Cup, taking place at the end of September in Ancient Olympia (GRE);    - Concerning the specific preparation for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, Matthew Curtain and Moira Lassen, IWF Technical Delegates to the competition, underlined the importance of attending the Operational Test Event in August. Also on this topic, the EB approved the Terms of Reference and the members of the Commission in charge of analysing the submissions related to exemptions based on exceptional circumstances (as stipulated in the Qualification Rules for the 2024 Olympics). Out of the five members of the Commission, three (with voting rights) were recommended by the International Testing Agency, while the two IWF representatives have no voting rights within the Commission;     - The EB also approved a temporary committee to study the creation of a regional francophone organisation, gathering the nations having French as one of their official languages;    - Updated reports were given by the organisers of the upcoming IWF events: IWF World Junior Championships (Guadalajara, MEX – November 2023); IWF World Cup (Phuket, THA – April 2024); IWF World Youth Championships (Lima, PER – May 2024); IWF World Junior Championships (Leon, ESP – September 2024); IWF World Championships (Manama, BRN – December 2024). Two of the highlights from these presentations include the Green Legacy Programme implemented by the Guadalajara hosts, whereby each participating athlete in the competition will plant a tree, which will be named after him/her, and the use in Lima, for the first time in an IWF event, of two competition platforms.    The IWF EB meeting precedes the gathering of the IWF’s National Member Federations at the IWF Congress, to be held also in the Saudi capital on September 12, 2023. Practical procedures related to the running of the Congress were also discussed at the Executive Board meeting. IWF Communications Photos by Giorgio