Ban later joined the Olympic Torch Relay in Sochi, receiving the Olympic flame directly from IOC President Thomas Bach before beginning his leg of the relay. The relay is the longest in Olympic history, at 65,000 kilometres. Later, the Secretary-General will join other heads of states, governments and international organisations at a welcome dinner hosted by the IOC President, and will also attend the Opening Ceremony of the Games on Friday night.
“Unforgettable celebration of sport” awaits
Making his final progress report to the International Olympic Committee Session ahead of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, Organising Committee President and CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko said the host city was “fully ready to deliver … the most unforgettable celebration of sport in Winter Games history.”
Seven years have passed since the Black Sea city won the right to host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. During that period, Sochi has been transformed from a summer resort to a multi-purpose, year-round destination.
“From the beginning of our Olympic journey”, Chernyshenko said, “legacy was our guide. The Olympic Games were the catalyst we used to speed up the renovation of this most beautiful part of Russia, which needed it since the middle of last century.
“Sochi has become an international year-round sports, business and tourism destination, built from scratch in one Games preparation cycle. We are ready to welcome the world.”
IOC Coordination Commission Chairman for Sochi 2014, Jean-Claude Killy, underscored the IOC’s confidence in Sochi’s preparations for the Games, saying he was looking forward to an excellent edition of the Olympic Winter Games.
“It was a monumental task”, Killy said of the project undertaken by the local organisers, adding that they could be proud of their accomplishments on the eve of the Games, a result of “never forgetting their quest for excellence.”
Olympic Agenda 2020
The IOC Session continued the discussions it began a day earlier on ideas that will eventually form a strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement, the so-called Olympic Agenda 2020 initiated by IOC President Thomas Bach last year. Today they dealt with points four and five of the Agenda: the IOC’s role in society and the IOC structure and organisation, the former in the presence of the UN Secretary-General.
On Wednesday, discussions were held on the first three points: uniqueness of the Olympic Games; athletes at the heart of the Olympic Movement; and Olympism in action: keeping Olympism alive 365 days a year. Working groups will now be established to turn the ideas and debate into recommendations that will be presented to an Extraordinary Session in Monaco in December.
Future editions of the Olympic Games
The Session also heard from the organisers and Coordination Commission Chairs of the Rio 2016 and PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Games and Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games. Their updates covered the period since the last IOC Session held in Buenos Aires last September.
The Rio 2016 team, led by OCOG President Carlos Nuzman, said the visit of IOC President Bach in January to meet Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff had “transformed our relationship with the federal government”, with mutual cooperation now being enjoyed between the Organising Committee and all levels of government.
Rio 2016 added that they understood the importance of ensuring an ongoing dialogue with Brazilian society to inform the people how money used for Olympic projects would be spent, where the money would come from, and the many legacies it would leave behind for the benefit of the local population. To that end, Rio 2016 recently unveiled its budget for the Games, which is comparable to those of recent Olympic Games. The Games will transform the city, including the transport system and port area, while the Olympic values will contribute to social cohesion.