Beleaugered IOC President Thomas Bach will open the Smart Cities & Sport Summit in Copenhagen tomorrow ©Getty Images

Thomas Bach, beleaguered President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), will be here in Copenhagen to open the eighth edition of the Smart Cities & Sport Summit tomorrow.

Bach’s recent video call with Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who had not been seen or heard from publicly for several weeks after making allegations of sexual assault against China’s former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli, has been strongly criticised by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and representative group Global Athlete for its failure to address the main concerns.

"It was good to see Peng Shuai in recent videos, but they don't alleviate or address the WTA's concern about her wellbeing and ability to communicate without censorship or coercion," said a WTA spokesperson.

Global Athlete, the athlete-led movement for change, objected to the IOC’s "nonchalant approach" to Peng’s allegations – it appears that no reference to the sexual assault was made, and instead, Bach invited Peng to dinner when he arrives in Beijing for the 2022 Winter Olympics in February.

"The IOC showed a complete disregard for allegations of sexual violence and abuse against athletes," a statement from Global Athlete read.

"By taking a nonchalant approach to Peng Shuai’s disappearance and by refusing to mention her serious allegations of sexual assault, IOC President Thomas Bach and the IOC Athletes' Commission demonstrate an abhorrent indifference to sexual violence and the wellbeing of female athletes."

Bach is a keynote speaker at the annual Summit, which was established in 2014 through an initiative by former and future Olympic host cities and had to be held virtually last year during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IOC President will speak during the section on Building Health Communities, sharing the vision of the Olympic Movement on sport and active society.

Last year, as part of the IOC’s reform programme Olympic Agenda 2020, the IOC signed an agreement with the World Health Organization to promote health through sport and physical activity.

The Summit is a unique conference targeting representatives of cities and regions across the world willing to develop smart strategies that connect sport and cities.

It offers an opportunity for delegates to learn from industry experts, share best practices and connect with the international sports world.

The programme will feature a section concerning the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics and the health legacy of future Games.

This will involve discussion of the impending Games and the issues and challenges related to legacy during a major sports event.

The Paris 2024 Games will feature strongly in the eighth Smart Cities & Sport Summit that starts in Copenhagen tomorrow ©Getty Images
The Paris 2024 Games will feature strongly in the eighth Smart Cities & Sport Summit that starts in Copenhagen tomorrow ©Getty Images

Marie Barsacq, the executive director of impact and legacy for the Paris 2024 Organising Committee of Olympic and Paralympic Games, will be one of the speakers discussing this matter related to the upcoming Games in Paris 2024.

There will also be a section reflecting upon the Tokyo 2020 highlights and the ongoing legacies for the Japanese capital.

The IOC will also be represented by other speaks in Copenhagen including Tania Braga, the IOC’s head of legacy, Marie Sallois, the IOC director of corporate and sustainable development and human rights, and Pierre Ducroy, Olympic Games operation director.

Markus Schnetzer, head of the Local Organising Committee for the Munich 2022 multi-sport European Championships, will also be among the contributors along with Hans Natorp, President of Denmark’s National Olympic Committee, and Stephen Whiting, technical officer with the World Health Organisation’s European Office.