15 November 2017

Birgitta Kervinen from Finland and Androulla Vassiliou fron Cyprus were respectively awarded the World and the European IOC Women and Sport Trophies at a stunning gala event in Lausanne last 9th November.

Finnish advocate of grassroots sports and gender equality, Birgitta Kervinen was awarded the IOC World Trophy for her tireless and long-standing efforts to promote gender equality in sport and society.

The European Trophy was awarded to former EU Commissioner responsible for sport Androulla Vassiliou, from Cyprus.

The wo awardees are closely connected; Kervinen was one of the driving forces that pushed the European Commission to prioritize gender equality as a sports policy topic. This work paid off with concrete actions, as the then Commissioner Vassiliou set up an Expert Group to draft the EU’s strategic document on gender equality in sport.

The World and European Trophies apart, another four Continental Trophies were awarded to the following people:

– Winner for Africa: Ms Lidé Anne Ouoba Zoma (Burkina Faso)

As one of the first women in her country to compete in long-distance running at an international level, Zoma has worked towards removing the barriers that prevent girls from participating in sport.

– Winner for the Americas: Dr Patricia Sangenis (Argentina) 

A medical doctor and former athlete, Dr Sangenis has worked towards raising awareness of female athlete health, helping to debunk myths about women’s sporting performance.

– Winner for Asia: Japan Ladies Tennis Federation (Japan) 

The Japan Ladies Tennis Federation has actively promoted women’s participation in tennis in a variety of ways, producing world-class Japanese players along the way and increasing women’s participation

– Winner for Oceania: Ms Judy Otto (Palau) 

The President of the Palau Swimming Association has played a key role in encouraging women’s sport participation in the country and enhancing commitment to health and active living.

IOC Women in Sport Commission Chair Lydia Nsekera congratulated the winners on their achievements and said: “I am delighted that the IOC is honouring so many inspirational role models with this year’s IOC Women and Sport Awards. Each winner has shown what can be achieved by those who are committed to empowering women and girls through sport – giving them the opportunity to break free of barriers and negative stereotypes and demonstrate what they are truly capable of.”

Introduced in 2000, the IOC Women and Sport Awards are given to women, men and organisations who have made remarkable contributions to the development, encouragement and reinforcement of women’s participation in sport. One World Trophy and five Continental Trophies are awarded every year.


From left: Lydia Nsekera, Chair of the IOC Women and Sport Commission, Birgitta Kervinen, World Trophy Winner and Thomas Bach, IOC President.