International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach applauded the work of the National Olympic Committee (NOC) of Slovenia with regard to the support for its athletes, and also in particular with regard to Olympic Agenda 2020, when visiting the country on 15 April.
“The Slovenian NOC has taken a leading role, if not the leading role, among the NOCs of the world to break Olympic Agenda 2020 down from the international level to the national level, to put the athletes at the heart of all its efforts,” President Bach, an Olympic champion in fencing at the Olympic Games Montreal 1976, said. “Sport is always about people, it is always about the ones who are practising sport. Sport is always in the middle of society and has a social responsibility to make sports development more sustainable.” The NOC has put together its own strategic roadmap for the future of Slovenian sport, and has fully incorporated Olympic Agenda 2020 in an impressive 43-page booklet.
At the start of his visit to the Slovenian capital Ljubljana, the IOC President, together with NOC President Bogdan Gabrovec, inaugurated a new Olympic Museum. It serves as an Olympic Education Centre and shows the rich history of Slovenian sport. President Bach was welcomed by a number of Olympians, including Slovenia’s two-time Olympic champion gymnast Miroslav Cerar. Led by two-time Olympian Mitja Petkovšek, a group of young athletes six years old and under carried the Olympic flag, and expressed their strong desire to become Olympians one day as well. During the inauguration, President Bach said: “The Olympic Museum is a great opportunity not only to remember the athletes who are successful now, but also of the past; and it’s a great opportunity to promote the Olympic values.” Comparing the small size of its population and the great number of Olympic medallists, President Bach said that “Slovenia in the Olympic world is a giant.”
Olympic Committee of Slovenia - Association of Sports Federations
Afterwards he attended the unveiling of the Slovenian team uniforms for the Olympic Games Rio 2016, at which he spoke with a number of Olympians about their expectations and dreams for Rio de Janeiro. He told them: “You will find excellent sports facilities and a wonderful Olympic Village. You can look very much forward to Olympic Games full of passion for sport.”
President Bach met Slovenian President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Miro Cerar, and Education and Sport Minister Maja Makovec Brencic to discuss the role of sport in Slovenian society. The IOC President called Slovenia “a country that loves sport and lives sport. The athletes get the support and the attention they deserve, because they are the best ambassadors of Slovenia. Sport plays an important role in society. Not only elite sport, but also sport for all and in education. The President of Slovenia and the Prime Minister expressed their strong support for this role.”
During an active afternoon, President Bach, President Pahor, Minister Brencic and NOC President Gabrovec took part in a warm-up for an “Olympic Challenge” in the Kodeljevo Sports Park. They were joined by Slovenian Olympians of the past and future and led a group of sport-for-all athletes running around the stadium’s 400-metre track.
The visit concluded with participation in a gala event, which was broadcast live on national TV, to raise money to support athletes from underprivileged families.