There will be 16 Belgian officials at the Rio Olympic Games, due to take place from 5th to 21st August. These umpires, members of juries and stewards, chosen by their respective international federations, will be active in ten sports (athletics, rowing, badminton, cycliing, horse-riding, hockey, tennis, table tennis, sailing and volleyball).
By way of comparison, there were 11 Belgian officials from eight sports at the 2012 London Olympic games. Badminton is the best represented sport, with three Belgian officials.
“Umpires play a crucially important role in high level sport. The better the umpire, the better the meeting,” stated Eddy De Smedt, the Head of the Belgian Inter-federal Olympic Committee (BIOC) for the Rio Games, during a presentation of officials at the premises of the BIOC. “We are proud that these officials have been selected for the Games. It proves they are at the top of their game.”
The youngest of the “Olympic family” to be selected is the hockey umpire Laurine Delforge (aged 25), who also plays hockey for Antwerp. Moreover, the Brussels girl, who has been on the international stage since 2012, will, when in Rio, be the youngest umpire in the history of hockey.
It is worth noting that for the first time there will be a Belgian umpire in the Olympic tennis tournament. He is Xavier Jacquemin (aged 30), who has umpired at an international level for five years and who has already done so in fifteen grand slam tournaments. In athletics, Patrick Van Caelenberghe, will be the first Belgian official in the top Olympic sport for the first time since the Antwerp Olympic Games in 1920.