- 10 Aug 2004
- IOC News
"Let us pay tribute to the Greek people"
In his speech at the Opening Ceremony of the 116th IOC Session, whose work started on 10 August, IOC President Jacques Rogge paid a warm tribute to the Greek people. "Let us pay tribute to the Greek people. Inventors of democracy under Solon, they have made a decisive contribution to civilisation through philosophers like Plato, writers like Homer or Sophocles, scientists like Euclid or Archimedes, architects and sculptors like Phidias and doctors like Hippocrates."
The President then went onto explain the social role of sport: "Sport today is hugely successful and justifies the epithet of social movement. If we add together the members of the millions of competition sports clubs and those who practise recreational sport, we arrive at a figure of several hundred million participants."
An unprecedented media audience
President Rogge also underlined the importance of the media coverage of sport, as well as its success on a financial level: "In addition to this enormous participation, sport has an unrivalled media, especially television audience. More than three billion viewers enthusiastically follow the Games on television each day. In addition to this encouraging participation and audience, sport succeeds in generating substantial revenue, in spite of the economic recession from which we have just emerged."
Threats: security concerns, gigantism, doping and ethical violations
The IOC President warned the members that it would be wrong to give way to feelings of euphoria or complacency when hearing this assessment of the situation. He particularly stressed the following threats: security concerns, gigantism, doping and ethical violations.
A tribute to the victims of Munich
Referring to the challenges laid down by security at the Games, President Rogge paid tribute to the Munich victims: “In Munich, sport paid a high price in terms of security, and I pay tribute once again to the victims of that tragedy whom we shall never forget. Since Munich, security has been, and remains, the number one priority for the Games.”
Controlling the size and cost of the Games
According to Jacques Rogge, the IOC must continue the action it has begun to control the size and cost of the Games. The first measures already taken here in Athens will allow for substantial savings to the Organising Committees’ operating budgets, and make the Games easier to organise, according to the President.
Increase in doping controls
The President’s speech also highlighted the intensification of the fight against doping led by the IOC: "The news recently has been marked by a growing number of positive doping cases. Paradoxically, this is an encouraging sign that the fight against doping is gaining ground, and that it is becoming increasingly hard to cheat. Let us continue together to increase education, prevention and punishment, with additional doping controls and more scientific research. As it did in Salt Lake City, the IOC has substantially reinforced its anti-doping measures in Athens."
"Let us respect strict ethics"
Jacques Rogge continued: "The Olympic Movement believes in the educational role of sport. This is why it preaches the values of tolerance, fair play and respect for the rules. Sport has a duty to set an example. Let us respect and ensure respect of strict ethics, and sanction the athletes and leaders who do not do so."
The President ended on an optimistic note: "I continue to be optimistic about the future of the Olympic Movement and of sport. Sport has great assets; it plays an important social and educational role. We can deal with the dangers which threaten it, and above all reinforce its values. Sport will remain this great movement serving humanity, based on the values of universality, tolerance and ethics, and a source of dreams to young people."
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