ANOC President Robin Mitchell said that 2022 had "reinforced the importance of unity" ©ANOC

Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) President Robin Mitchell has declared 2022 "a year that has brought us moments of great joy and achievement as well as some significant challenges" in his New Year message.

Fijian official Mitchell, who is also President of the Oceania National Olympic Committees and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board, had led ANOC on an acting basis from 2018 after Kuwait's Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah stood aside after being charged with forgery in Switzerland.

He was elected unopposed as President at the ANOC General Assembly in Seoul in October.

Mitchell reiterated his pride at serving in the role in his New Year message, and looked forward to the forthcoming year, including the staging of Continental Games and the ANOC World Beach Games in Bali.

"I am honoured to be able to serve you as President for the next four years and was humbled by the trust you placed in me during October’s election," he said.

"My commitment is to lead through collaboration, working with our new ANOC senior vice-president HE Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad Al-Thani, ANOC Executive Board and ANOC secretary general Gunilla Lindberg and the Lausanne office to do all we can to serve the NOCs [National Olympic Committees] over the next four years.

"We have so much to look forward to in 2023.

"Not least the ANOC Beach Games Bali 2023, which rightly is a source of great anticipation with more than 100 NOCs expected to qualify athletes.

"The next eight months will see intense preparations and many qualification events as more and more NOCs aim to book their places in Bali."

He claimed that the past 12 months had "reinforced the importance of unity".

Robin Mitchell vowed to
Robin Mitchell vowed to "lead through collaboration" as ANOC President ©ANOC

"Our global NOC family is made up of so many different cultures and backgrounds but as we have seen time and time again, we are stronger together," Mitchell said.

"We continue to stand in solidarity with the Olympic communities in countries and regions around the world facing great suffering through conflict and natural disasters.

"As IOC President Thomas Bach observed in his landmark address at our General Assembly, unity and peace are the very foundations of the Olympic Movement and the heart of our mission.

"As NOCs, it has therefore been crucial to find strength in our diversity and adopt a unified response.

"In difficult times, sport may not be the priority, but we must always remember its unique power to break down barriers and promote tolerance and understanding."

Mitchell pointed to the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics as an event which "showcased the very best of sport and humanity", and referenced progress on ANOC's Digital Accelerator Programme aiming to help NOCs to improve their social media output and its partnership with The Toolbox to work on sustainability initiatives.

Robin Mitchell claimed that the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics
Robin Mitchell claimed that the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics "showcased the very best of sport and humanity" ©Getty Images

Mitchell was a participant at the Olympic Summit in Lausanne earlier this month, after which the IOC issued a declaration that it would explore the potential for Russian and Belarusian athletes to return to competition in Olympic Council of Asia events.

They have been largely frozen out of sport since the invasion of Ukraine in February, after which the IOC recommended that they were excluded from international sports events.

The outcome of the Olympic Summit has sparked criticism in Ukraine, but Mitchell said that it "clearly demonstrated that the Olympic family is committed to working together".

"Sport will always continue to build bridges and send out messages of hope when it is needed most," he concluded.

"And ANOC will continue to play a vital role in the Olympic Movement’s mission to unify the entire world in peaceful competition".

At the ANOC General Assembly earlier this year, Mitchell defended the role of ANOC after its relationship with the IOC was questioned, insisting "we wear two hats, quite separate and distinct".