The XVII General Assembly of the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) kicked off today, with 84 representatives gathering virtually from 56 different countries and territories.


The first of three sessions opened with a video message from International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach.

“With the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 now finally on the horizon, your General Assembly is taking place at a very timely moment in this extraordinary Olympic year,” said IOC President Bach, addressing the congress. “My thanks go to the IFSC, under the great leadership of my friend Marco Scolaris, for your steadfast commitment to the success of the Games.”

“The IFSC has demonstrated flexibility, creativity, and leadership when it mattered most. You have shown this in an impressive way only a few days ago during the most successful organisation of the IFSC Climbing World Cup [in Meiringen], with over 200 athletes from three continents. It is events like this that contribute to create confidence in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, because they are proof that sport can be organised safely even under current restrictions,”  he concluded.


The XVII IFSC General Assembly continued today, with the second session of the virtual three-part gathering.

Opening with an overview of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024, sport was at the heart of the congress’ discussions. A thorough report was offered by the IFSC Sport Department with regards to development, competition formats, as well as an update on the 2021 Climbing and Paraclimbing World Championships, which is set to take place in Moscow, Russia, this September.

Chair of the IFSC Paraclimbing Committee Sebastian Depke provided a recap of the committee’s latest projects, before Sean McColl and Shauna Coxsey of the Athletes’ Commission thanked the IFSC for their close communication over the last months. IFSC Anti-Doping Officer Paolo Orione reported on the IFSC’s work to meet the requirements of the World Anti-Doping Agency, followed by Eugen Burtscher giving insight into developments within the IFSC Medical Commission.

Reports from the IFSC Communications and Marketing & TV departments were also on today’s agenda, with the latter also offering an update into the IFSC’s sustainability initiatives.

President Scolaris concluded with a heartfelt thanks to all IFSC staff, consultants, and commission members, who work tirelessly and devotedly to develop Sport Climbing.

The congress will conclude tomorrow, Sunday 25 April, with elections for the IFSC Executive Board for the upcoming 2021-2025 term.


Marco Scolaris and Debbie Gawrych will oversee the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) from the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 through to Paris 2024 after they were re-elected President and Secretary General, respectively, at the XVII IFSC General Assembly, attended by 57 Member Federations today.

The elections for the leadership of the IFSC were the main items of business during the three-day General Assembly, which took place online due to the pandemic and was opened with a virtual welcome address from the President of the International Olympic Committee Thomas Bach.

Scolaris founded the IFSC in 2007 and has led the Federation since then. He was re-elected President for another four-year term thru to 2025. Scolaris stood unopposed for the position and was elected with 50 votes.

Scolaris was responsible for spearheading his sport’s inclusion onto the Olympic sports programme and the election means the Torino native will be at the helm when Sport Climbing makes its Olympic debut this summer at Tokyo 2020 as well as its sophomore appearance three years later at Paris 2024, both important milestones in the Federation’s relatively short history.

“Many of our accomplishments have been obtained thanks to the support of a great team of Board Members and staff,” Scolaris said. “Now that we have secured our place at two editions of the Olympic Games, it is time to also start working on ensuring that Sport Climbing is included at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Los Angeles 2028 and beyond.”

Supporting Scolaris for another four years will be Debbie Gawrych, who was confirmed as Secretary General for a second term with 48 votes. Gawrych has led the development of the IFSC Strategic Plan 2020-2028 and managed the marketing contract with Dentsu, together with a host of other responsibilities.

As the founder and former President of USA Climbing and with vast experience in Sport Climbing at the international level, Gawrych is a highly valued member of the Sport Climbing community.

With her new mandate, Gawrych says she is determined to lead the organisation into an even stronger position in 2025. “My goals are to do everything in my power to give our organisation the solid foundations it deserves,” she said.

Elections for the IFSC Executive Board were also held, with new members Wolfgang Wabel and Pierre You respectively receiving 41 and 52 votes, and joining re-elected member Kobinata Toru, who received 53. The full composition of the IFSC Executive Board is the following:

  • IFSC President: Marco Maria Scolaris
  • IFSC Secretary General: Debra Gawrych
  • IFSC Vice President: Toru Kobinata
  • IFSC Vice President: Wolfgang Wabel
  • IFSC Treasurer: Pierre You
  • IFSC Africa Council Representative: George Stainton
  • IFSC Asian Council Representative: Li Zhixin
  • IFSC Oceanian Council Representative: Romain Thevenot
  • IFSC Pan American Council: Maria Izquierdo
  • Athletes’ Representative: Sean McColl
  • Athletes’ Representative: Shauna Coxsey

The representative of the IFSC European Council will be determined by upcoming elections, to be held in November. Representatives of the Oceanian and Pan American Council will be replaced later in 2021, following their respective elections.

In addition to receiving statutory reports and updates from the Continental Councils and Commissions, the General Assembly ratified the decision of the Executive Board to admit two new members into the Federation: the Croatian Sport Climbing Federation, representing Croatia, and the Federación Puertorriqueña de Escalada, representing Puerto Rico.

Delegates received updates on the planning for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and upcoming continental Games. They were also given a status report on the 2021 IFSC Season, which successfully got under way in Meiringen, Switzerland last weekend, as well as a preview of the 2022 Season.

Finally, the General Assembly voted for the 2022 and 2023 General Assemblies, which will take place in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, and Singapore respectively.

President Scolaris closed the General Assembly by thanking the delegates for their support and called for renewed focus and effort in the lead-up to Sport Climbing’s historic debut in Tokyo this summer.

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