International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach visited the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of Serbia and Kosovo on Friday for talks on Olympic Agenda 2020, the role of sport in society, and the recent recognition by the IOC of the Kosovo NOC. Kosovo was granted full IOC recognition at the 127th IOC Session in Monaco in December 2014.
In the Serbian capital Belgrade, President Bach praised the President of the Serbian NOC Vlade Divac for the progress made in Olympic sports. “We really appreciate the great progress that Olympic sport has made in Serbia,” he said. “If you see the progress from the Olympic Games in Beijing where you were in 61st place to London where you finished 42nd, this is a remarkable success. This is particularly impressive given the not always easy conditions in Serbia,” he added.
The IOC President met with representatives of the 38 National Sports Federations of Serbia. He finished his trip at an elementary school to see “EcOlympics Serbia,” a project funded by Olympic Solidarity through the “Promotion of the Olympic values” programme. EcOlympics Serbia is a national programme to educate school children about the importance of environmental preservation, healthy and active lifestyles, social responsibility and volunteerism.
Later in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, the IOC President held talks with President of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, the Prime Minister Isa Mustafa, as well as Kosovo NOC President Besim Hasani.
Reminding them that the NOC of Kosovo was the first to receive recognition since he became President, Bach said: “We want our youngest child to grow quickly. We want to be very proud of the youngest member of our family.” He told them that if they prepared their athletes well for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year they would become great role models for the whole country.
The Kosovan President said that sport could “build bridges in society” and spoke of the positive benefits of being a new member of the Olympic family. Later the Prime Minister said: “You have opened a blocked door for us and it will bring enormous benefits to be part of the international sporting community.”
President Bach said: “I am sure this recognition will help nation building for Kosovo. By uniting people in sport, everyone can participate. In sport all people are equal, all ethnic groups, all cultures and all religions.”
The IOC President later visited the multi-sport Palace of Youth and met representatives of Kosovo’s National Federations. On Saturday, he will take part in an Olympic Day Run featuring 700 school children.