An important year for the Olympic Movement has just passed. The IOC Session in Buenos Aires was one of the most eventful in our 119-year history, with the selection of a Host City, a vote on the composition of the Olympic Programme, and the election of a new International Olympic Committee President.
It was a great honour to have been granted the responsibility of leading the IOC on 10 September. Thanks to the legacy of IOC Honorary President Jacques Rogge our organisation is healthy. We are now beginning to build our future on this solid foundation.
The year ahead is shaping up to be a significant one for the Olympic Movement. We have a great deal to look forward to in 2014, first of all the Sochi Olympic Winter Games in February, and also the Nanjing Summer Youth Olympic Games in August. After visiting each city and meeting with the respective organisers last year, I am confident that both will be excellent events of the highest quality.
In Sochi the athletes will once again discover the magic of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Villages. They will experience first-hand the ability of the Olympic Games to build bridges and break down walls. In turn, the athletes will share this magic with the rest of the world by bringing the Olympic values to life both on and off the field of play. This will be their time to shine. We must ensure that nothing interferes with them realising their full potential on the world’s biggest sporting stage. The Sochi Olympic Games should be a demonstration of unity in diversity and of remarkable athletic achievements – not a platform for politics or division. This is even more important after the cowardly terrorist attacks in Russia which we utterly condemn. Terrorism must never triumph. We trust that the Russian authorities will deliver safe and secure Olympic Winter Games for all athletes and all participants.
Nanjing will provide us with an early opportunity to move in a new direction. Last month, the IOC Executive Board agreed to allow some new sports and disciplines not currently on the Olympic Programme – sport climbing, roller sports and skateboarding, as well as wushu, which had already been approved – to be showcased at the Youth Olympic Games this summer.
In order to enhance our fight on behalf of clean athletes we have increased the number of pre-competition tests for Sochi 2014 by 57 per cent compared to Vancouver 2010.
The IOC Executive Board has created a fund of USD 10 million to be used, in particular, for better scientific research in the field of anti-doping, and another fund of USD 10 million to better protect clean athletes from any kind of manipulation and related corruption.
More changes in the Olympic Movement over the next few years are necessary and will need to be discussed by us all. Since September I have initiated a dialogue on major themes outlined in my electoral platform with the five other presidential candidates, IOC members and the broader Olympic family. This dialogue has already generated a number of important ideas that will form the basis of the Olympic Agenda 2020, a road map for the Olympic Movement under the leadership of the IOC that we aim to have finalised by the end of 2014.
Our discussions have centred on three major themes: sustainability, credibility, and youth, thereby addressing the main topics of preserving the uniqueness of the Olympic Games; focusing on the athletes as the heart of the Olympic Movement; fostering Olympism year-round; defining the role of the IOC; and improving the structure and organisation of the IOC.
The next step will be for all IOC members to debate the ideas emerging from a four-day brainstorming meeting of the IOC Executive Board. This debate will take place at the IOC Session ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. The process is expected to culminate in Monaco on 6 and 7 December 2014 when the Olympic Agenda 2020 will be presented for final approval to an IOC Extraordinary Session.
This dialogue remains open to the diverse voices and opinions of all Olympic Movement stakeholders. I thank you all in advance for your active participation in these discussions for the sake of a bright future for our Olympic Movement.
Happy New Year 2014!