IOC President Thomas Bach meeting young athletes in Khrgyzstan during his visit ©IOC/Ian Jones

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach completed a three-country tour of Central Asia today with a visit to Kyrgyzstan capital Bishkek in conjunction with Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) President Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, attending, among other things, a FIFA World Cup qualifying match against Australia.

During a whistlestop four-day tour following his departure from Baku after attending the Opening Ceremony and first day of action at the European Games, Bach first visited Uzbekistan, where he met young athletes during Olympic Day celebrations before visiting the new National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan headquarters in Tashkent.

These were described as "among the best he had ever seen".

Along with a meeting with Uzbek President Islam Karimov and Uzbek-born International Fencing Federation head Alisher Usmanov, Bach, the team foil fencing champion at the Montreal 1976 Olympics, met with two of his former sporting adversaries in Uzbek Fencing Federation chief, Sabir Ruziev, and Alexandr Romankov.

Romankov, now a coach, is the the one opponent the German never managed to beat during his career.

Before departing, he also attended the Closing Ceremony of the Asian Confederation Junior Continental Boxing Championships, along with International Boxing Association President and IOC Executive Board colleague, CK Wu, who also travelled there from Baku.

Thomas Bach and Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah meeting with budding fencers in Uzbekistan ©IOC/Ian Jones
Thomas Bach and Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah meeting with budding fencers in Uzbekistan ©IOC

Next up was Tajikistan capital city Dushanbe, the visit beginning with a meeting with the country's President Emomali Rahman, who also heads the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Tajikistan.

Both Bach and Sheikh Ahmad, also Olympic Council of Asia President and a member of FIFA's Executive Committee, pledged to strengthen their support for Tajik athletes before visiting the NOC headquarters.

This included a meeting with Mavzuna Chorieva, the boxer who became the first woman to win an Olympic medal for Tajikistan, claiming lightweight bronze at London 2012.

Finally, the entourage travelled to Bishkek to meet with Kyrgyzstan President, Almazbek Atambayev, before meeting young athletes preparing to compete at Rio 2016

He then attended the World Cup qualifier, in which Kyrgyzstan were beaten 2-1 by Australia.

In all three visits, sport and its contribution to the development of the country was a leading topic on the agenda, with Bach outlining how sport can play an important role in reconciling, uniting and building nations.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals project was also discussed, with the leaders offering support to ensure sport is included in the political declaration of the SDGs when they are finalised in September.

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