IOC President Thomas Bach received today in Seoul two honorary distinctions for his achievements with regard to a peaceful solution for the Korean peninsula.
He was given the Cheongryong Medal by South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a special ceremony at the Blue House.
In the citation, President Moon noted the IOC President’s “outstanding and meritorious services rendered towards world peace and development of sports in the Republic of Korea”.
President Bach accepted the medal – the country’s highest sporting award – on behalf of the entire Olympic Movement. He talked of the process which the IOC had begun in 2014 to get the athletes from the National Olympic Committee of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the Olympic Winter Games. He also revealed that the negotiations concerning the joint march of both teams behind the Korean unification flag could only be successfully concluded just four hours before the start of the Opening Ceremony.
President Bach also praised President Moon for his “essential role in making these Games such a success” and for his “unwavering faith in the Olympic spirit and in [his] belief in the unifying power of the Olympic Games”. He congratulated him for the great progress already being made in the political talks and expressed the hope that they will finally lead to a peaceful solution for the Korean peninsula.
Earlier, President Bach was made an honorary citizen of Seoul. Praising the actions of the IOC, the Mayor of Seoul said: “To allow the joint march and other joint activities of the two teams from the North and the South, these IOC initiatives already made a great contribution to ease the tension on the Korean peninsula.” Addressing President Bach, he said: “You are the true creator of peace on the Korean peninsula.”
Tomorrow, President Bach will be in PyeongChang for the Opening Ceremony of the Paralympic Winter Games.