International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach today shared the solidarity of the Olympic Movement with the high state authorities of Tunisia, as the country was again struck by terrorist attacks. He assured the President of the Republic, Mr Beji Caid Essebsi; the Prime Minister, Habib Essid; and the President of the Parliament, Mohamed Ennaceur, that the Olympic family stood by the side of the Tunisian people in these difficult times.
“The terrorist attacks are not only attacks against Tunisia and its people, but they are also attacks against human values. We must use the unifying power of sport to convey messages of tolerance and peace”, he stressed during his visit.
The President held long discussions with the political leaders about how sport, when integrated early into the school curriculum, can contribute to preventing young people from taking the wrong path and in the fight against obscurantism. He praised the efforts of the Tunisian Government in this area. During these discussions, the Tunisian authorities told the President about their excellent collaboration with the National Olympic Committee (NOC), in full respect of the autonomy of sport.
The President’s visit was marked by emotional moments, such as at the start of the Tunis half-marathon at the place where the attack against the presidential guard took place on 25 November 2015, and during a visit to the Bardo Museum.
The President also took part in the Tunisian NOC’s Executive Board meeting and General Assembly. This was an opportunity for President Bach to congratulate NOC President Mehrez Boussayene and his colleagues for the work accomplished over the past few years in preparing athletes for the Olympic Games, as well as in implementing projects helping Libyan refugee children in the south of the country, and encouraging girls to practise a physical activity.
The President acknowledged in particular the role of Tunisian women in every level of society – an example to other countries in the region.
Athletes and young people were clearly at the heart of this visit. The President had the opportunity to go and meet young athletes at the ceremony for laying the first stone of the future Tunisian NOC headquarters, as well as honouring Olympic medallists, such as legendary athlete Mohamed Gammoudi, and Habiba Ghribi, who is actively preparing for the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
“I wish good luck to all the Tunisian athletes who will be in Rio de Janeiro this summer, and who will not fail to make their country proud. They will all become role models for Tunisian youth. Youth who, through sport, can find the keys to a better future, filled with hope and peace,” concluded the IOC President.