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At the 1981 Congress in Baden-Baden, Germany, expectations were great, falling as it did just a year after the boycotted Moscow Games and with Los Angeles around the corner. It was no exaggeration to say the credibility of the Olympic Movement was at stake and new initiatives pointing the way ahead were required.
The Congress was opened by West German President Dr Carl Carstens with music composed by Leonard Bernstein exclusively for the event. Pope John Paul II and the UN General Secretary conveyed their greetings. Speakers included Prince Philip of Britain while the honorary guest was the 92-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner Lord Phillip Noel-Baker.
For the first time the athletes played a leading role in a Congress, with Kip Keino, Sebastian Coe and Soviet ice hockey goalkeeper Vladislav Tretyak all speaking. Their accounts rang with an authenticity nobody dared contradict and the Congress in Baden-Baden paved the way for the IOC Athletes' Commission, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. A member of the Athletes’ Commission sits on every other IOC commission and working group, so an athlete’s opinion is taken into account in all decisions made including the bidding process, the organisation and the programme for each Olympic Games.