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29 Dec 2006
IOC News

Looking Back on an Olympic Year

An Olympic year is always a special year. Highlighted by a festival of pure sporting excellence, Olympic years are the milestones that punctuate Olympic history. 2006 started with a bang as the athletes of the world gathered in Turin, Italy, for the XX Olympic Winter Games. Turin embraced the youth of the world and warmed our hearts with Italian passion. Through their performances and conduct, the athletes showed the world what the Olympic Games are about: a time of universality and sporting excellence. I called them “truly magnificent Games”.
Athletes at the Centre of the Olympic Movement
The Olympic year was also marked by other significant events. In June we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. This Commission has allowed us to demonstrate our strong commitment to putting the athletes at the centre of the Olympic Movement, which today is stronger than ever. The athletes on this Commission, most of whom are sporting heroes in their countries, have a status in society as role models, and encourage the young generation to practise and enjoy sport, and to adhere to the values that are linked to it.
Cultural Exchange and Understanding
In August we celebrated two-years-to-go until the Games in Beijing, which will open on the eighth day of the eight month of the year 2008. The day saw a demonstration of keen enthusiasm by the Chinese people, as one million Beijingers took part in morning exercises in close to 5,000 venues. The staging of the Games in Beijing will mark a major milestone for the Olympic Movement. Bringing the Games to China means that potentially one-fifth of the world’s population will be exposed to Olympic values, something that is a magnificent opportunity for the Olympic Movement. I am confident that the Games in Beijing will not only be highly successful but will also provide a stage where the peoples of China and the rest of the world will be enriched through cultural exchange and understanding.
Sport for All
Amongst the many other events that marked this Olympic year was the 5th World Forum on Sport, Education and Culture held in Beijing in October. I told the audience there that we have the social responsibility to demonstrate by our example that sport teaches us how to respect ourselves and one another, how to strive for excellence in all that we do and, perhaps above all else, the importance of friendship and peace.
I was also delighted to attend the 11th Sport for All Congress in Havana, Cuba, in November. We are endeavouring to make sport more attractive; to help sports clubs attract the interest of young and older people; and to educate children and their parents better on what sport can bring and where to practise it.
Excellence, Respect and Friendship
The International Olympic Committee works hard to promote our Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship, to support sports organisations and to encourage the youth of the world to practise sport. After all, the Olympic Movement of tomorrow lies in the youth of today.
Seasons greetings to all, young and old!
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