COPENHAGEN — The XIII Olympic Congress opened with a keynote address by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a call to action from IOC President Jacques Rogge.
Ban told Congress delegates at the Bella Center in Copenhagen that “Sports can be found anywhere in the world. I have travelled to countries mired in poverty. To communities struggling to survive. To war-ravaged places where all hope seems lost. Suddenly, a ball appears, made out of plastic bags or newspapers. And we see sport gives life to hopes and dreams.”
Rogge told the delegates that their task is to provide “intellectual guidance” to help strengthen and improve the Olympic Movement. Under the overarching theme, “The Olympic Movement and Society,” the three-day Congress will examine issues related to Olympic athletes, the Olympic Games, the structure of the Olympic Movement, Olympism and youth, and the digital revolution. For the first time, representatives from the public are also participating in the Congress.
“We have gathered in this beautiful city to take stock of the Olympic Movement — to consider where we are today and where we want to be in the future,” Rogge said. “We’re here to continue the search for improvement. As we approach this task, we should think as boldly and as fearlessly as our founder.”
Pierre de Coubertin convened the first Olympic Congress in 1894 to fulfil his dream of reviving the ancient Olympic Games. They have been held, on average, every decade or so since then. The last Congress was organised 15 years ago in Paris.
Every branch of the Olympic family is represented in Copenhagen, including International Federations and National Olympic Committees, as well as coaches, trainers, academics and medical specialists and representatives of the public, NGOs and the media. Their recommendations will be forwarded to the decision-making bodies of the International Olympic Committee and other relevant stakeholders.
Olympic medallist and IOC member Frank Fredericks kicked off the first theme on “The Athletes” with a personal example of the power of sport.
“Sport changed my life. What I am today is because of what sport gave to me. What I built, what I discovered, what I achieved, it’s thanks to sport. We have a responsibility to the young generation to let them know that taking part in sport is a wonderful life experience,” he said.
Jean-Claude Killy of France, another IOC member and Olympic medallist, delivered the keynote address at a session on “The Olympic Games” and stated: “Every two years, alternating between summer and winter, a very large part of the world gets into the swing of the Games. The Olympic Games are a passage between before and after; they are a reference to which everyone can attach memories and emotions, be they in a political, economic or cultural context. The Games bring out heroes, joys and dramas, which hack into the collective memory, and into the universal memory.”
Read IOC President Rogge's introductory speech
Read Frank Fredericks' full speech
Read Jean-Claude Killy's full speech (in French)