Slovenian gymnast Sašo Bertoncelj is to lead the ICMG Athletes Commission until 2026 ©ICMG

Slovenian gymnast Sašo Bertoncelj has vowed to be the "best President so far" after his election to lead the International Committee of the Mediterranean Games (ICMG) Athletes' Commission at the ICMG Extraordinary General Assembly held in 2026 host city Taranto.

"I would like to thank the Slovenian Olympic Committee for motivating me to my candidacy," Bertoncelj said after the election.

"I will try not to disappoint all the athletes in the Commission who voted for me and try to represent them as best I can, and be the best Athletes Commission President so far," he added.

Bertoncelj won the leadership election after a contest with Turkey’s Yacemin Ecem Anagoz, 2018 European champion in women's individual and team archery, who also won team and mixed team gold medals at the Oran 2022 Mediterranean Games. 

Double Olympic rower Sid Ali Boudina from Algeria had also run for the office.

Both had been elected to the ICMG Athletes Commission at the Mediterranean Games in Oran and are set to serve a four-year term ending in 2026 under the leadership of Bertoncelj.

Delegates heard online progress reports on preparations for the 2023 Mediterranean Beach Games, scheduled for Heraklion next September.

Delegates were told that the Taranto 2026 Mediterranean Games were "on schedule" as Games director Elio Sannicandro updated members after a meeting of the Coordination Commission for the Games. 

"Not only Taranto but the whole region of Puglia must embrace the Mediterranean Games and we are ready to offer our help and our efforts," Taranto Mayor Rinaldo Melucci told the Commission.

Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malagò was also set to discuss renovations to the Stadio Iacovone in Taranto and the indoor Palaeventi Arena in Brindisi, which are both expected to be key venues for the 2026 Mediterranean Games.

The bidding process has also been officially opened for the 2027 Beach Games and 2030 Mediterranean Games.

Later, Amar Addadi, ICMG President from 2003 to 2021, was installed as Honorary Life President.

Amar Addadi, right, has been named ICMG Honorary Life President ©ICMG
Amar Addadi, right, has been named ICMG Honorary Life President ©ICMG

The ICMG Order of Merit was presented to Taranto 2026 Coordination Commission chairman Stavro Bello, Tarragona 2018 director Victor Sanchez Naranjo, long time Libyan Olympic Committee secretary Marwan Maghur, former Lebanon Olympic Committee President general Souhail Khoury and veteran French journalist Alain Lunzenfichter.

A posthumous award was made to former Cyprus Olympic Committee President Dinos Michaelidis who died in June.

All had been nominated at the online General Assembly last year but were unable to receive their awards until now.

Honorary ICMG membership was also granted to Maghur, Bello and Sanchez Naranjo.

The next ICMG General Assembly is scheduled to take place in Heraklion on September 1 2023.