ONOC held its quadrennial secretary generals workshop ©Getty Images

Economic issues dominated the agenda at the latest Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) secretary generals workshop meeting, as discussions floated towards target setting and problem solving in the build-up to Paris 2024.

The workshop, which is held every four years, was expected to be hosted last year but it was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

To accommodate for the pandemic, this year’s event was a hybrid with members attending online and in person.

Robin Mitchell, the President of ONOC was keen to address issues relating to the Olympic Solidarity programme, how funds are used, and the lessons learnt over the years.

In a direct address to the workshop, Mitchell tied together how good governance and leadership are significant factors in improving how the National Olympic Committees aid athletes before looking further afield to Brisbane 2032.

"The theme of ‘enabling effective leadership in Oceania’ with a focus on good governance, the workshop is important in leading to improved performance by NOCs," he said.

Robin Mitchell discussed the need to make better use of the Olympic Solidarity programme ©Getty Images
Robin Mitchell discussed the need to make better use of the Olympic Solidarity programme ©Getty Images

"Brisbane 2032 presents us another opportunity to improve athlete performances in our island countries - we have a line-up of qualifiers leading to Paris 2024 in two years before we move into the Los Angeles 2028 phase before we host the Summer Games in Brisbane."

He continued: "Our working group of Oceania stakeholders includes the Organisation of Sports Federations of Oceania, Oceania Paralympics, Oceania Australia Foundation, Australia Paralympics, and the Australian Olympic Committee.

"This workshop covering good governance and underscoring the importance of finance, sport education and sport development leads to our ability to improve athlete performance.

"We have only two years before the next Olympiad begins in 2025 after Paris 2024 is over and our National Olympic Committees need to improve their use of available funding through the Olympic Solidarity programme."

Mitchell insisted that members must make complete use of the Oceania Sport Education Programme, which delivers courses to improve sport education.

"OSEP is important for NOCs because its concept allows members to develop local expertise which can lead to less dependence on external experts," he added.

According to Mitchell, OSEP allows the NOCs to build relations with experts in a way that allows them to understand topics better.

Cook Islands Sports and National Olympic Committee secretary general Owen Lewis also added that the workshop allowed them to further understand the "expectations and accountability measures" that the ONOC and the Olympic Solidarity programme require.

Ricardo Blas talked about the need to strengthen finances before the workshop was held ©Getty Images
Ricardo Blas talked about the need to strengthen finances before the workshop was held ©Getty Images

Ricardo Blas, the secretary general of ONOC and the NOC President of Guam, had displayed the need to solve these issues before the quadrennial workshop.

For the first time it welcomed NOC finance officers, sport development officers and sport education officers.

Their attendance was designed to provide specialist training to improve how the Olympic Solidarity programme is implemented in the Pacific Islands.

"We are working to strengthen finance, now we have finance officers on board, we are working to strengthen the delivery of the sport education programme, we now have sport education officers, and then one of the driving forces for any NOC, the sport development officer whose role is not to develop sport but to coordinate the development of sport - all these positions are paid for by ONOC," Blas said before the event.

The members to attend in person were the NOCs of the Cook Islands, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Nauru, Palau and Papua New Guinea while all other NOCs attended virtually.

Representatives from the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas also attended as an associated member due to having the hosting rights of the Saipan Pacific Mini Games 2022.

The workshop was followed by a trip to the Northern Marianas to meet with the Organising Committee of the Pacific Mini Games.

The last in-person ONOC secretaries-general workshop was held in Guam in 2017 after Rio 2016 to start the 2017 to 2020 Olympic Quadrennium.