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03 Jul 2007
IOC News

A warm "bienvenida" for the IOC members

A few hours before the Opening Ceremony of the 119th IOC Session in Guatemala City, Óscar Berger, the President of Guatemala, warmly welcomed the IOC members at the National Palace of Culture. Accompanied by Willi Kaltschmitt Luján, President of the Guatemala Session Organising Committee and Fernando Beltranena, President of the Guatemalan Olympic Committee, the group also visited the Monument of Peace, where the 1996 peace accords were signed, marking the end of a long internal conflict and the beginning of a more hopeful future for Guatemala. A special highlight was the presence of Rigoberta Menchú Tum, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992.
Sport for peace 
Recognising the peace-promoting role of sport in general and the Olympic Games in particular, Óscar Berger invited the IOC President, Jacques Rogge, to place a white rose, as a symbol of peace, on the monument. This rose is replaced daily – a gesture of the daily hope to maintain a peaceful coexistence. Rogge stated: "The world around us has a strong desire for peace. Sport can contribute to this aspiration. We, sports leaders, political leaders, public leaders, men and women of the world, we all have an obligation to cooperate in order to meet our common goal in this third millennium: to give the youth of the world the chance to show how we all can live together peacefully".
Developing countries in the focus
President Berger took the opportunity to award Jacques Rogge with the Orden of Quetzal. With this Orden, named after a national bird and a symbol of Guatemala, the Guatemalan State recognises those who have contributed to the fortification of friendship, harmony and good relations between Guatemala and other countries. Berger thanked Jacques Rogge for the IOC's strong support for developing countries and for helping their athletes to participate in the Olympic Games through various programmes.
A warm "bienvenida" indeed - and the IOC President concluded: “Staging this Session in Guatemala offers a great opportunity for the Olympic family to get to know this beautiful country. Thank you for being such wonderful hosts!”
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