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A Career Dedicated to Sport and Peace

03 May 2018
Olympism in Action Forum
Willi Kaltschmitt is a member of the IOC Executive Board and has served as the Delegate Member for Protocol for the last six years. He became an IOC Member in 1988, after serving as President of the Guatemalan Olympic Committee. Under his stewardship, many Central American countries have come together under the “Peace Games.”


In the run-up to the Olympism in Action Forum in Buenos Aires (5-6 October 2018), we looked at groups and individuals who, inspired by the power of sport to contribute to a better world, have used their initiative to organise projects and programmes to effect change at all levels.

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“My whole career, my 50-year career, has been related to sports.”

“I started my life as Secretary General of the Guatemalan National Boxing Federation before becoming President of the Boxing Federation. Then I became a boxing referee and ended up refereeing at the Olympics at Montreal 1976 and at Moscow 1980. I was elected President of the Guatemalan Olympic Committee in 1982.”

“This country, this region, was at war from about 1968 until 1996. In 1984, I invited all the Presidents of the National Olympic Committees together and said: ‘look guys, let’s hold a Central American Games, because this is the only way we can get our countries together.’ Despite problems with borders and police, we managed to hold the third Central American Games in Guatemala in 1986. We called it the ‘Peace Games’. We created a national anthem of the Games which promoted that we were all part of one country, that we all belong to sport. It is an incredible, beautiful anthem that has been played in churches. The Games marked the beginning of the harmonisation of Central America through sport.”

“We're now on the 11th edition, mostly because of the legacy that the Games that we held in Guatemala left to the region. I believe these Games are maybe one of the best things that ever happened to me, and to Central America. Through these Games, we have promoted Olympism, and consequently won medals at the Olympic Games.”

“The Games create heroes; they create role models for every country. There's not one organisation that could achieve what we achieved in Central America. We pulled governments that were not politically aligned together, and we united them under the same philosophy of Olympism. This is what our Movement does.”

My whole career, my 50-year career, has been related to sports. Willi Kaltschmitt GUA

“I think every National Olympic Committee has the power to achieve a lot nowadays. Each one has more tools to work with, thanks to the support of the IOC. Now our work goes beyond the Games. We have a foundation in Guatemala sponsored and endorsed by the IOC called Hoodlinks, which works with poor young children living in marginal areas with high crime rates. We’re using the Olympic values to create heroes in neighbourhoods. Now we’re extending this programme to Honduras. We want to extend it not only there, but to the other countries of Central America that need this kind of foundation.”

“To me, Olympism means a lot: Olympism is a way of life. Olympism represents how we can live in harmony. The Olympic Movement brings people together and brings peace − and what we need is peace.”

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