IOC President Thomas Bach, right, joined IOC member in India Nita Ambani for an ISL football match ©Getty Images

Thomas Bach has landed in Mumbai for the crucial International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board meeting and Session.

Bach is set to lead an IOC Executive Board meeting at the Trident Hotel in India's biggest city from Thursday to Saturday (October 12 to 14), followed by the delayed IOC Session from the Sunday (October 15) to Tuesday (October 17) at the Jio World Centre.

The IOC President travelled to Mumbai from Istanbul, where he attended the second day of the European Olympic Committees General Assembly on Saturday (October 7).

On arrival in Mumbai, which is set to become the second Indian city to host the IOC Session after the capital New Delhi in 1983, Bach joined IOC member in India Nita Ambani for an Indian Super League (ISL) football match between Mumbai City and Kerala Blasters at the Mumbai Football Arena.

During an interview at the match, Bach looked forward to the upcoming Session and praised the ISL for its achievements since founding in 2013.

He also took the opportunity to praise India's performance at the Asian Games, which concluded in Hangzhou yesterday, with them finishing fourth on the final medals table. 

"It’s a huge occasion and it's reflecting the growing strength of India in the Olympic Movement," he said.

"Congratulations first of all to the 107 medals at the Asian Games to all the Olympian athletes.

"This shows the great strength and we are looking forward to seeing a strong Olympic team of India next year at Paris 2024."

IOC President Thomas Bach, centre, watched  Mumbai City beat Kerala Blasters 2-1 ©Getty Images
IOC President Thomas Bach, centre, watched Mumbai City beat Kerala Blasters 2-1 ©Getty Images

Ambani claimed the IOC Session can help India to achieve its ambitions of hosting multi-sport events.

"We are all excited to have the 141st Session in Mumbai," Ambani, who, along with her husband Mukesh, is one of the richest people in India, said.

"We are bringing the Olympic Movement back to India after 40 years.

"Our dream is to make India a multi-sport nation.

"This will really give a boost to youngsters all over the country to take up different sports and excel."

Bach has previously suggested there is a "strong case" for India to host the 2036 Olympics and Paralympics, and plans for a bid are expected to be presented at the Session.

Strong competition is expected with at least 10 other countries interested, along with reputational damage to repair from the chaotic 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and recent governance issues at the Indian Olympic Association which led to the IOC Session being postponed from May.

Ambani is founder and chair of the Reliance Foundation, a non-profit organisation which focuses on areas including education, rural transformation, urban renewal and sport.

It signed a cooperation agreement with the IOC to build on the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP), and Bach was introduced to some of its work by Ambani including at the Reliance Foundation Young Champs Football Academy.

Bach welcomed the Reliance Foundation as a partner for the IOC.

"Sport has the ability to transform lives of young people," he said.

"We welcome Reliance Foundation joining as an OVEP implementation partner and we look forward to bringing the Olympic values to even more students, first in the Mumbai area and then hopefully across the state of Maharashtra. 

"Respect, friendship, fair play and solidarity are values that young people can benefit from and imbibe for life. 

"And the most important aspect is solidarity with one and all."

Ambani said she hopes the partnership can "positively impact the 250 million school-going children of India, reaching out to the remotest villages and regions".

A cooperation agreement was signed between the IOC and Nita Ambani's, right, Resilience Foundation after the visit of Thomas Bach, centre  ©Reliance Foundation
A cooperation agreement was signed between the IOC and Nita Ambani's, right, Resilience Foundation after the visit of Thomas Bach, centre ©Reliance Foundation

The IOC Session comes at a pivotal time for the IOC with several key decisions still to be made.

Russian and Belarusian athletes' participation at the Paris 2024 Olympics remains uncertain despite the IOC lifting an outright ban to allow those who do not support the war in Ukraine and are not affiliated to the military to compete as individual neutrals in international competitions, and a decision on the sport programme for Los Angeles 2028 was postponed last month.

It is unknown whether a decision on either of those will be taken in Mumbai.

A group of new new IOC members are due to be elected in Mumbai, including Malaysian Oscar-winning actress Michelle Yeoh who is best known for starring in the Tomorrow Never Dies film of the James Bond series.

International Table Tennis Federation and International Skating Union Presidents Petra Sörling of Sweden and Kim Jae-youl of South Korea are also set to be approved as members, along with Yael Arad of Israel, Balázs Fürjes of Hungary, Cecilia Roxana Tait Villacorta of Peru, Michael Mronz of Germany and Tunisian Olympic Committee President Mehrez Boussayene.

A further seven members are expected to be re-elected for a further eight years in Prince Albert II of Monaco, Ukraine’s Valeriy Borzov, Sweden's Gunilla Lindberg, Pakistan’s Syed Shahid Ali, Grand Duke of Luxembourg and Executive Board members Nawal El Moutawakel of Morocco and Nenad Lalović of Serbia.