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Date
21 Apr 2010
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IOC News

“We must constantly expand sport’s capacity to open the minds and hearts of young people” – Juan Antonio Samaranch on Olympism


“We shall serve sport, not use it. Money generated by sport shall benefit sport. Sport shall remain in control of its own destiny. Olympism is a guide, not a constraint.” That was one of the guidelines of late IOC Honorary President Juan Antonio Samaranch. Here is a selection of what the man who profoundly marked the history of the Olympic Movement at the end of the 20th century said about Olympism.

“The Olympic Movement must no longer be a pleasant topic for declarations and conferences, but a galvanising reality which can overcome the challenges of bad politics, ambitions and hatreds.” (1980)

“Since its creation, in 1894 in Paris, the Olympic Movement has weathered many storms and numerous crises, and each time has emerged victorious and stronger. Victorious, because the Olympic idea is generous and more than transcends individual and selfish interests.” (1980)

“The IOC is convinced that a single united front will enable it to fight effectively against this scourge (doping), particularly through the setting up of an effective and believable control during the training periods of athletes wherever they are.” (1981)

“Indeed, modern sport can no longer claim to perform the role that it has assigned itself if it gives in to the current tendency: that of cheating in all areas. Cheating is the antithesis of the sporting spirit, particularly sportsmanship and fair play. We must be careful that the dangers which today seriously threaten this spirit do not end up defeating it. If violence, cheating, doping and excesses of all kinds become the rule, they will naturally turn young people, who are seeking absolutes and ideals, away from watching and practising sport.” (1981)

“In the world as it is today, characterised by deep concerns relating to peace, sport offers mankind a valuable instrument in fighting against alienation in our society. It represents a means of uniting the youth of the world by encouraging awareness and respect of all others, and thus finally peace and fraternity.” (1983)

“The Olympic Movement, like all other human activity, must naturally suffer the effects of the upheavals which disturb our society, and more particularly the international situation. Our role and our usefulness are in favouring fraternisation between peoples, a greater understanding of others and thus mutual respect.” (1984)

“If we were unable to forget our differences, to snub our prejudices and our personal preferences, if we looked after our own particular interests instead of those of the general interest, the international sports movement would be a thing of the past.” (1986)

“To understand and to accept the necessary evolution of Olympism are thus extremely important. We must not blindly submit to self-imposed dogmas, but seek instead to perceive the evolution of the societies in which we live and bring to our Movement the regular adjustments it needs.” (1986)

“The social and political phenomenon of Apartheid cannot be reconciled with the Olympic ideal, and is a source of concern for the entire world. We must all fight to eradicate it, while listening carefully to the Africans who, once this objective is achieved, will tell us when and how South Africa can be reinstated in the international sports community, from which the International Olympic Committee was the first organisation to exclude it.” (1988)

“We are not idealists lost in our dreams. Through our responsibilities we have our feet firmly on the solid ground of the real world. We are not blind to our weaknesses, our imperfections, or to the dangers which lie in wait for us.” (1988)

”Coubertin’s Olympism adapted to the conditions of our times can, through the practice of sport such as he conceived it, be a place of culture and humanism, a centre which leads to peace.” (1990)

”Alone, we can reform neither man nor society… The Olympic Movement has possibly a unique opportunity, amidst the present disarray, to show through deeds that it is one of the great and beneficent social forces of our time; that in all places, and at all times, it places sport, such as we conceive it, at the service of the human community.” (1990)

“It is the links forged in the stadiums and in the Olympic Village which remain, for many, the very best of youthful memories. And they are germane to the trends which are making themselves felt throughout the world, the breath of freedom which is stirring the nations…We must, and indeed do, take a respectful view of the wide variety of opinions which are expressed concerning us. But we do not accept and we shall always defend ourselves against the envy and hypocrisy which prompt some people to try to destroy what they themselves were unable to create.” (1992)

“The IOC President, as you know, is like the conductor of a Philharmonic Orchestra, whose responsibility lies in harmonising the tune and rhythm each member is playing with his own instrument.” (1993)

“Our ambition is not to seek to settle the problems confronting our society. But we have the responsibility, in conformity with our fundamental principles, to make a gesture, take initiatives and act according to our means and preoccupations, and in the domain which is naturally ours.” (1994)

“For countries facing socio-economic and political difficulties, physical and sports education are very low on the list of priorities. We must reflect upon this hard reality, defining a rational cooperation policy to reduce the inequalities between industrialised and developing countries.” (1994)

“We must constantly expand sport’s capacity to open the minds and hearts of young people to relations based on warm friendship and mutual respect, introducing them to forms of fair contest and arming them against any temptation to succumb to unjustified or violent actions.” (1995)
 
“United by and for sport, the Olympic Movement can and must mobilise itself to make its contribution to the protection of planet Earth and the well-being of mankind.” (1995)

“We cannot change the world without first changing human beings, and perhaps it is there that the philosophical aspect of sport can play a role, in the endeavour to achieve an ideal of holistic human development, an ideal of which Olympism could be the driving force.” (1996)

“Our development aid policy is not a policy of promises, but a reality, and a true reflection of the fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter. We must respect and maintain the universality of the Olympic Games, while affirming the cultural vocation of Olympism and continually improving the standard of competition by attracting the best athletes from the entire world.” (1996)


“Our duty is to be at the service of the athletes; to place them on an equal footing, whatever the political or economic system to which they belong; to make them independent, foster  their development and combat all forms of discrimination which could hinder their personal growth or integration into society.” (1997)

“The Olympic Games are unique and must remain so. For this reason, we must study the ways and means to protect the Games and, if possible, increase their prestige still further, so that they remain the biggest event in the world and the greatest celebration of contemporary society.” (1998)

“We had to accommodate many interests and perspectives in the aims of developing the consensus needed to progress and expand.” (1999)

“History teaches us that games have been part of human activity since the dawn of time. The cultural heritage of different peoples bears witness to their richness and diversity… Sport should be used to help educate enlightened men and women capable of undertaking generous initiatives to the benefit of society. Fair play, by winners and losers alike, is an invitation to exercise the virtue of justice.” (1999)

“Yes to the reforms necessary to consolidate the Olympic Movement, without renouncing our convictions… Yes to reforms which protect the universality, importance and prestige of the Olympic Games, as well as the independence of our organisation.” (1999)

“No organisation can find a single universal answer to all the contradictions and oppositions that affect our planet… Faced with the development of society and the vicissitudes of politics, the International Olympic Committee cannot remain unmoved and has a duty to react – and does react – in the right way, committing itself to culture, peace and the well-being of society.” (1999)

“Sport is a school of justice, democracy and human rights. The first rules that we learn are those linked to the Games and to sports. Moreover, sport, a universal language, creates, in all circumstances, national unity, political consensus, solidarity and mutual understanding.” (2000)

“The most effective army that Africa should use is education, which will enable its nations to develop their own vital resources, social justice, democracy and human rights, and ensure their well-being.” (2001)

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