- 12 Apr 2016
- Olympic News
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach welcomed Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos today at The Olympic Museum in Lausanne. The two leaders praised the eternal Olympic values and Greece’s role in the Ancient and Modern Olympic Games, including the ekecheiria, or Olympic Truce.
“In our fragile world, in these times of crisis and conflict, the values of peace and solidarity are more important than ever,” said President Bach during the visit. “In this respect the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, which are only a few months away, are particularly important. They bring together people from all around the world to celebrate our common humanity and our unity in diversity,” he added.
During their meeting, Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos welcomed the initiatives being taken by the International Olympic Committee with regard to refugees and to the creation of a Refugee Olympic Athletes’ team for the Olympic Games in Rio. The Greek President said that refugees needed to be treated “honestly and efficiently, with humanism, as well as with genuine solidarity.”
President Bach and President Pavlopoulos discussed the USD 2 million emergency fund established last September by the IOC to support programmes organised by National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to help refugees worldwide. A refugee support programme organised by the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) was one of those to benefit from this fund and has been hailed as a success by refugees and local authorities alike. The HOC Refugees Support Programme built four basketball courts and a football pitch in the largest refugee camp in Athens, which houses between 750 and 1,000 refugees at any given time. The HOC is also working in the refugee “hotspot” on the island of Lesbos to provide sports facilities and equipment for the refugees arriving there.
The Greek President also sent a strong message “on the need to end as soon as possible all conflicts around the world" and to “end the war in Syria,” because only this can guarantee the resolution of the refugee issue. “This is why we consider important the revival of the Olympic Truce," he noted.
The Olympic Truce for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro was supported by 180 out of 193 United Nations member states at the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in October 2015.
President Pavlopoulos said Greeks remained true to the original Olympic spirit and the ideals emanating from it. “Ideals which focus on mankind and humanism and which rely on the principles that lead to the fulfilment of man in his destination. Above all, the principles of ‘fair play’ and excellence through which the Olympics acquire their real meaning of returning to ancestral roots, the roots of Ancient Greece and Ancient Olympia,” he said.
President Pavlopoulos added: “The timing of this visit is doubly symbolic. Firstly, because this is an Olympic Games year. Secondly, because 2016 is marked by a vast crisis of global proportions, which is creating a veritable humanitarian crisis from all points of view, especially with regard to the major issue of refugees. It is precisely these circumstances which make the Olympic ideals more relevant and indispensable than ever; ideals originating in the country that was the cradle of the Olympic Games and the birthplace of the Olympic spirit.”
Also on the agenda was the creation of the Olympic Laurel, an award to be conferred to an outstanding individual for their achievements in the fields of education, culture, development and peace through sport. The award is part of the reforms under Olympic Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement. The Greek President today confirmed that the stone from which the award will be created will come from Ancient Olympia. Full story here.
The two leaders will meet again at the lighting of the Olympic flame for the Olympic Games Rio 2016 that will take place in the Greek city of Olympia on 21 April. The flame will be handed over to the Rio 2016 organisers on 27 April after a tour around Greece. On 3 May, the Olympic Torch Relay – presented by Coca-Cola, Nissan, and Bradesco – will officially start in the capital city of Brazil, Brasilia, embarking on a 95-day tour around the country.
President Pavlopoulos signed the IOC Guest Book before taking a guided tour of The Olympic Museum. He was accompanied by Hellenic Olympic Committee President Spyros Capralos and IOC Honorary Members former Greek King Constantine and Lambis V. Nikolaou.