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26 Sep 2014
IOC News

Bernard Rajzman on the universal language of the Games

Part of the Brazil volleyball team that won Olympic silver in 1984, Bernard Rajzman is now a distinguished sports administrator and became an IOC member in 2013. Rio 2016 will be the 11th edition of the Games in which he has been involved, three of them as an athlete. In this latest video in our “Words of Olympians” series, he shares his insights into the essence of the Olympic Games.

Bernard Rajzman has been a member of the Olympic family since the age of 19. During the course of his sports career, in which he made no fewer than 540 appearances for Brazil’s volleyball team, he took part in three editions of the Games - Montreal 1976, Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984 - winning a silver medal in the last of those, as Brazil went down to the hosts in the final.

“Winning an Olympic medal makes you immortal and gives you a place in history,” he explains.

He certainly made an indelible mark on his sport, inventing the “Star Trek” serve, in which he sent the ball soaring high over the net and plummeting into the opposing half of the court. A world championship runner-up in 1982, Rajzman also excelled at beach volleyball, winning world championship silvers in 1986 and 1987, before retiring from competition three years later.

The father of international surfer Phil Rajzman, he has participated in the Olympic Games as an athlete, official and administrator. “I’ve been involved in 11 Olympic Games,” explains Rajzman Senior, who has since become a prominent sports administrator both at national and international level. His country’s sports minister in 1991-92, he held a seat in the Rio de Janeiro Legislative Assembly for two terms between 1994 and 2002, and has been a member of the Brazilian Olympic Committee (BOC) since 1995. In 2013, he was appointed technical director of the BOC, took up the vice-presidency of the Rio 2016 Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and became a member of the IOC.

Interviewed as part of our “Word of Olympians” series, Rajzman speaks passionately about the capacity of the Games to bring people together in a spirit of peace and sharing. “The Olympic Village is the heart of the Games,” he says. “It’s where all the athletes meet, where you can come face to face with people from China, America or Japan. Sport gives you all the opportunities you need to communicate. I don’t need to know how to speak Chinese, English, Italian or Russian to feel close to them and to understand what goes on in a football match, or in swimming, volleyball or basketball. We communicate without speaking the same language because sport is a universal language. That’s one of the biggest attributes that sport offers the world.”


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