IOC President fields questions from Rio university students
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach today took part in a lively question and answer session on the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and the Olympic Movement with Brazilian university students at the headquarters of the Rio 2016 local Organising Committee.
Standing at the centre of a packed auditorium in the format of a popular local TV chat show, President Bach interacted with some 100 students from five local universities – PUC-Rio, UERJ, UFRJ, Estácio, FGV, and Ibmec. The discussion centred on four themes: the Olympic Movement, city transformation, the human legacy of the Games, and high-performance sports development.
The objective of the debate was to connect and engage with the youth of Rio, listen to students’ ideas and concerns, and increase understanding about the benefits the Olympic Games can bring a host city, region and country.
For an hour, President Bach fielded questions from the students in a relaxed and open atmosphere. Bach told the students that he was expecting great Games in Rio, “a great festival a la Brazil” and a “great festival of humanity.”
The President told those assembled: “The Olympic Games in Rio will be a unique opportunity for your city as far as the development of sport is concerned of course but also with regards to the legacy that the Games will leave for years to come. There will be a Rio before and a Rio after the Games.”
The IOC President also talked about the inclusiveness of the Games. He said: “We want to make sure that the Games are for all Brazilians. For example, the procurement of goods and services will be done with small local businesses. All the people who have applied to the volunteer programme – over 250 000 applications received so far – will be offered teaching programmes in English and management courses that they can no doubt build on in their future professional careers. Rio will offer more tickets to its public than London did. Out of the 7 million tickets available, 3.8 million will be at a price of 30 dollars or less. And more importantly, millions of Brazilians will have free access to the Games and many spectacular events. People will be given the opportunity to show the world what it means to have the Olympic Games in Brazil and in South America. We all look forward to experience great competitions but also the Brazilian hospitality in a great atmosphere.”
Students were eager to know what the IOC is doing to help improve the practice of sport at school, how the IOC is ensuring that the Games leave a sustainable legacy and what can be done against racism in sport.
Excerpts of the IOC President’s answers follow.
“Eight weeks ago, the IOC adopted a reform programme called Olympic Agenda 2020 where it is stressed that the role of sport in education should be increased and improved. Studies have shown that kids doing sport are healthier and can learn better. We are also teaming up with UNESCO to make sure that sport gets the place it deserves in schools’ curricula. This way we can encourage national governments to take action and give a role to sport in schools and universities. In parallel, the 170 training centres that will be used by international athletes all over Brazil during the Games will benefit the youth after the Games.
“We are partners with your country. We don’t come here and leave after the day of the closing ceremony of the Games. We work as a team and want to leave Brazil knowing that we have left a positive legacy. I met with your President in Brasilia no later than yesterday. The dialogue was very similar to the one we are having here today. We talked about Games preparations of course but also about legacy. When facing challenging times, every politician is at a crossroads where they have to make decisions. It is then important to define the priorities and decide what has to be done now to best prepare for the future. Many Olympic projects are now under way and this is where the Olympic Games can serve as a catalyst. These projects and investments have to continue. The investment and confidence in future growth are important. Equally important is the fact that the Olympic Games are mainly privately financed and so is the IOC’s contribution (USD1.5 billion to the success of the Olympic Games in Rio).”
“Sport is one of the few areas of society where we are all equal. The rules of sport are the same for everyone. We want to send this message to the world and this is what will happen in Rio during 16 days next summer. For the IOC and the Olympic Games, non-discrimination is in our DNA. We have always been clear that there cannot be any form of discrimination at the Olympic Games, be it regarding race, gender or sexual orientation. We are standing for tolerance, understanding. Concretely, if an athlete would show any attitude of racism, he/she would be sent home the same day.”