- 02 Jul 2003
- Olympic News
The 115th IOC Session was declared open last night at a ceremony in the Smetana Hall of the Municipal House, a national heritage building in Prague. Hosting an IOC Session for the third time, the Czech NOC, through its President Milan Jirasek, welcomed the Olympic Family, and reaffirmed its continuous active support to the fundamental ideas and values of the Olympic Movement. For the President of the Czech Republic, Václav Klaus, a sportsman with all his heart, "the Olympic Games is the culmination of the efforts of every sportsman and woman. They have gained over the years a distinct status not only in the sporting world; they have become an integral part of the society".
Taking the floor, the IOC President Jacques Rogge reminded the audience of the long relationship the Czech Republic has with the Olympic Movement, quoting Pierre de Coubertin who said "the Czech were among the first to help keep the Olympic Flame burning". He then spoke about the importance of the Prague Session during which the election of the 2010 host city will take place. "The first priority of the IOC will continue to be maintaining the pre-eminence of the Olympic Games in serving the athletes.... and to fight for sporting fairness, against doping, which remains its main concern, for solidarity towards emerging countries". President Rogge concluded his speech stressing the message of hope which sport represents for the young people : sport bringing them hope, pride, identity and health; sport shaping their minds and bodies; sport integrating them into society; sport teaching tolerance and respect for others. "Let us work all together towards this noble end", he said.
Following the official part of the ceremony, a cultural programme began with the Hradistan Ensemble. With instruments such as a tromba marina, the hurdy-gurdy, a Jew's harp and the ocarina, this Ensemble interpreted eleven musical compositions from Czech traditions, through the centuries, from the past to the present. The work of the 115th IOC Session could then begin.