UIAA celebrates 20 year anniversary with the Olympic movement

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Two decades ago when sport climbing was in its infancy, the International Olympic Committee recognized the UIAA as the first international body to represent climbing and mountaineering.

It was a historic moment.

As the UIAA – International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation celebrates its 20th anniversary as a proud member of the Olympic family, competition climbing has matured and the push to make ice climbing an Olympic sport in 2022 has become more focused.

“It is a proud anniversary to mark and our history shows that the values of the international Olympic movement and the UIAA have much in common,” said UIAA President Frits Vrijlandt. “The UIAA’s core values include clean climbing, cooperation among individuals and nations through sport and fair play.”

“The strength of our organization lies in the long lasting relationship between individuals from many different countries with a common passion for climbing and mountaineering,” said Vrijlandt.

Vrijlandt also took the occasion to announce that the UIAA welcomes the new IOC ethics commission “indemnity policy” which urges all sports organizations in the Olympic movement to publish their payment policies to members and officials.

Vrijlandt said UIAA officials including the President and members of the Executive Board are volunteers and do not receive any salary.


Frits Vrijlandt on the “spectacular” sport of Ice Climbing from UIAA – Climbing & Mountaineering on Vimeo.

The UIAA relationship with the Olympic movement is anchored in the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour, the cornerstone of the ice climbing programme. Over the years it has grown and is now held in five countries including the U.S.A., South Korea, Switzerland, Italy, France and Russia.

Hundred of athletes from dozens of countries compete for World Cup titles in competitions which the UIAA has been holding continuously since 2002. Each year athletes from more and more countries join the Tour, a family of climbing enthusiasts who travel from country to country to make new friends, renew old friendships and compete.

Every two years, a World Championship is held and there is fierce competition for the coveted tittle.

Names like Angelika Rainer, Maxim Tomilov, HanNaRai Song and Yannick Glatthard are becoming familiar to a wider audience as live-streaming on the Internet attracts new enthusiasts to the sport.

A historic milestone in the quest to become an Olympic Sport was reached last year when athletes from the UIAA Ice Climbing World Tour demonstrated their sport at the Olympic Park during the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Officials with the 2018 Winter Olympics being held in PyeongChang, South Korea have indicated that they would like to see ice climbing demonstrated again, although the format is still being developed.

The UIAA’s Olympic quest is rooted in the development of a robust and vibrant youth ice climbing programme, anchored by the annual World Youth Ice Climbing Championships and youth training programmes around the world.

“The support of the youth is very important for the development of the sport,” said Urs Stoecker, President of the UIAA Ice Climbing Commission which oversees competition sport. “The youth competitions are a perfect play field for future champions to gain competition experience and a winner mentality.”

About the UIAA

The UIAA – International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation was founded in 1932 and has a global presence on five continents with 85 member associations in 63 countries representing more than 3 million people. It’s mission is to promote the growth and protection of climbing and mountaineering worldwide, advance safe and ethical climbing and mountaineering practices and promote responsible access, culture and environmental protection in mountains.

The UIAA operates through the work of its commissions which make recommendations, set policy and advocate on behalf of the climbing and mountaineering community. The organization is a member of ARISF and SportAccord and is recognized by the International Olympic Committee for climbing and mountaineering.

For more information please contact office(at)theuiaa(dot)org