Constitutional amendments were approved on day one of the EOC General Assembly in Istanbul ©EOC

The European Olympic Committees (EOC) General Assembly has approved constitutional changes here, including term limits for the Executive Committee and a move to appoint a chief executive early next year.

It is claimed the changes will increase the professionalism of the continental body, and they were approved by 36 votes to one, with one abstention.

The Olympic Partner programme member Deloitte has been tasked with the search for a secretary general, and is due to create a shortlist with a view to finalising an appointment at the beginning of next year.

The new chief executive is set to support long-serving secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi of Italy, who has held the role since 2006.

Pagnozzi would continue to be responsible for constitutional matters at the EOC, but the chief executive would take charge of daily operations.

Asked by Dutch Olympic Committee*Dutch Sports Federation President Anneke van Zaken-Nieberg if this would be reviewed in the coming years to ensure there is no duplication of the role, EOC President Spyros Capralos replied it is always "open to change".

The General Assembly also accepted a three-term limit for members of the Executive Committee, meaning each member can serve for a maximum of 12 years.

However, this will not apply retroactively, so the three-term limit applies from the next elections.

The General Assembly had opened with welcomes from Turkish Olympic Committee and World Archery President Uğur Erdener, Capralos and Association of National Olympic Committees President Robin Mitchell of Fiji.

In his report to the General Assembly, Capralos described 2023 as "the busiest year that the European Olympic Committees has ever had" with Summer and Winter European Youth Olympic Festivals, the Games of the Small States of Europe in Malta and the Kraków-Małopolska 2023 European Games.

He said the organisation had "improved the image of the EOC and our events" within "strict budget constraints".

"Our first priority is always to serve our athletes and I believe we can be proud of the way we have done this together," he said.

"I know that you, the NOCs [National Olympic Committees], can be very proud of the way you are supporting your athletes this year, at EOC events and on their way to Paris."

Capralos was elected as EOC President in 2021, and highlighted areas of progress made during his time at the helm.

"At the beginning of my term as President I promised you better governance," he said.

"In the past 12 months, we have implemented Strategic Agenda 2030 and I am pleased to say we have already achieved a number of the goals set out.

"We have also seen other positive changes with governance, including producing our accounting figures following International Financial Reporting Standards, appointing international auditors for EOC accounts, the creation of an Ethics Commission, and hopefully after your approval today, changing the statutes, including limiting the number of terms of the Executive Committee to a maximum of three."

EOC President Spyros Capralos said 2023 had been
EOC President Spyros Capralos said 2023 had been "the busiest year" in the organisation's history ©EOC

Capralos also announced the creation of a new Janez Kocijančič Award for the best male and female athletes at each edition of the European Games chosen by the EOC Athletes' Commission.

Slovenian official Kocijančič died while in office as EOC President in 2020 following a serious illness.

Reports were also provided by EOC secretary general Raffaele Pagnozzi of Italy and treasurer Peter Mennel of Austria, along with chairs of EOC Commissions and the Working Group for Strategic Agenda 2030 and International Olympic Committee (IOC) director of NOC relations and Olympic Solidarity James Macleod.

Austria's Otto Flum, Susanna Rahkamo of Finland, Zoltán Molnár of Hungary, Italy's Carlo Mornati and The Netherlands' Marijke Fleuren were all awarded the EOC Olympic Laurel.

The first day of the General Assembly concluded with reports from organisers of past and upcoming European Youth Olympic Festivals and the Games of the Small States of Europe in Malta.

The General Assembly is set to conclude tomorrow, starting with an address from IOC President Thomas Bach and followed by a heavy focus on the European Games.