Zagreb, 5 October 2020 - By an unanimous decision of the members of the Assembly at the electoral (57th) session held in Zagreb's hotel Westin, Zlatko Mateša will lead the Croatian Olympic Committee (COC) in the next four-year period (2020-2024).
Since the postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo from 2020 to 2021 disrupted the four-year summer Olympic cycle, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) let the National Olympic Committees decide on holding the electoral assemblies this or the next year.
At the Council session in February this year, the Croatian Olympic Committee decided to hold elections this fall, and after the elections were called until the deadline (27 September), the Croatian Olympic Committee received only the candidacy of the current president. Mateša is the longest-serving President of the Croatian Olympic Committee, and he was first elected the Head of the national Olympic committee in 2002. Before him, the umbrella association of Croatian sports was led by Antun Vrdoljak (1991-2000) and Zdravko Hebel (2000-2002).
Among Mateša's other duties, related to sports and Olympism, it is important to point out his membership in the Executive Committee of the European Olympic Committees (EOCs), in which he is one of the initiators and promoter of the European Games project (until 2015 only Europe did not have multi-sport continental games!) and membership in the governing body of the World Anti - Doping Agency (WADA) – the Foundation Board. Zlatko Mateša is also known as the former Croatian Prime Minister with the longest term (1995-2000), and before that he was a member of the Croatian Parliament and a minister in the Government of the Republic of Croatia.
In his first addressing the members of the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Assembly, the new-old President reminded of the current situation and guidelines for the future of Croatian sports:
- In terms of strategic goals, which we are planning to meet over the next four years, our first and most important task in these times remains preserving the health of athletes. We were very lucky, a lot of help from the Croatian Institute of Public Health and Assistant Professor Capak provided to the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Health Commission and Ms. Vurdelja. Thanks to the said, so far we have not had any significant breakthroughs of COVID-19 among our athletes. On the contrary, we succeeded in many competitions - such as national football or basketball championships - being held normally, as well as certain international competitions. For example, the European Sailing Championships where the Fantela brothers won bronze, then the excellent performance of our gymnasts at the World Cup in Hungary or the performance of Sandra Perković at Hanžek - all this tells us that sports is very much alive and can and should function adapted to the new conditions. Therefore, the next goal will be ensuring the survival of the sports system, which means - with the help of the Croatian Government - ensuring all the national federations smooth implementation of the program because sports must function in such conditions as well.
In the continuation of his speech, Mateša also referred to the postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo:
- Our next strategic goal is Tokyo, and the Games will be held. IOC President Bach, whom I recently met in Ljubljana, says that the International Olympic Committee, together with the host of the Games, is preparing several scenarios for how this should work in technical sense. The new Japanese Prime Minister Suga also expressed optimism concerning the holding of the Tokyo Olympics 2021. The Croatan Olympic Committee will provide funds for preparation of not only already qualified athletes, but also of those who are about to qualify in the following year. Moreover, all Croatian athletes will travel to Japan at least 14 days before the commencement of the Olympics to prepare and acclimatize, most likely to Tokamachi , the hosting city and the base of the Croatian National Football Team during the World Cup in 2002.
As an additional strategic goal in the new mandate, Mateša pointed out the care for sports in the local community, i.e. the intention to exempt sport-practicing children (aged 9 to 19) from paying the costs of using sports infrastructure, membership fees and similar expenses.
Other bodies of the Olympic Association were also elected at the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Electoral Assembly. The Vice-Presidential positions have not changed, so in the next term Mateša's first assistants will be: Sanda Čorak, Morana Paliković Gruden, Željko Jerkov and Damir Martin. Ivo-Goran Munivrana, Željan Konsuo, Zlatko Taritaš, Boris Mesarić, Branimir Bašić, Miho Glavić and Damir Knjaz retained their previous positions as members of the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Council, with newly elected: Dragan Primorac, Ivan Veštić and Anto Baković, while Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is the member of the Council in accordance with her IOC membership. Due to a more equitable representation of sports and volume of work, subsequent increase in the number of members of the COC Council was announced.
The new members of the Croatian Olympic Committee’s Supervisory Board are Ivan Jelinčić, Stjepan Krznarić, Goran Kovačić, Fernando Kirigin and Romeo Vrečko, while Nika Fleiss, Nikša Skelin, Dario Šimić, Ivica Veselić and Nataša Vezmar were elected to the Ethics Committee. (COC/VK)