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07 Feb 2006
IOC News

Opening of the 118th IOC Session - Official speech of IOC President

118th IOC Session Opening Ceremony
Turin – 7 february 2006
Official speech of IOC President Jacques Rogge
In three days, the XX Olympic Winter Games will be a reality. On behalf of the IOC, I would like to thank our Italian hosts very warmly for their wonderful hospitality and to express our excitement and anticipation about the Olympic magic and Italian passion that await us.
The Organising Committee, TOROC, under the leadership of President Valentino Castellani and Supervisor Mario Pescante, have had the challenging task of preparing these Games, and I would like to congratulate them and all of TOROC for their commitment and hard work. I would also like to underline the important role played by the Italian government, as well as the governments of Piedmont and of the City of Turin. They have all played a crucial role in making the Games happen.
My thanks go to our IOC colleagues Franco Carraro, Mario Pescante, Ottavio Cinquanta and Manuela Di Centa, who have contributed greatly to the prestige of Italian sport within the Olympic Movement.
My thanks go also to the Italian Olympic Committee and its President, Gianni Petrucci, for its support. The NOC of Italy, created in 1908, and considered as a model, is about to enjoy its third edition of the Olympic Games - after Cortina  d’Ampezzo in 1956 and Rome in 1960. Italy is a great sporting nation. Its athletes have won 583 medals in Summer and Winter Games. Italy has organised three Olympic Games, two FIFA World Cups and many continental and World Championships. Italy also has the reputation of producing great sports leaders.
Italian passion and professionalism will no doubt deliver successful Olympic Winter Games for us.  For the past seven years, the Organising Committee, guided by the IOC’s Coordination Commission, and notably its very expert Chairman, Jean-Claude Killy, have done everything possible to put the physical and human structures in place to guarantee the best conditions for the athletes. It should never be forgotten that, above all else, the Games are for the athletes. The dreams of athletes from 82 National Olympic Committees - more than ever before - will be lived out here in this wonderful Italian city and its surrounding mountains. They will compete in a spirit of friendship and fair play for 84 medals in seven sports.
I thank in particular very warmly the seven International Winter Sports Federations, which have played a determining role in close partnership with the IOC and TOROC.
The Olympic Games – Summer and Winter – are the pinnacle of sports events, uniting peacefully the youth of the world. Torino 2006 will not only welcome a record number of National Olympic Committees – and allow me to welcome in particular those NOCs participating for the first time – but also demonstrate that the Olympic Winter Games are being watched by more people in more countries around the world.  
All these facts are extremely positive. But, as guardians of the Olympic ideals and values, we the IOC members should never allow complacency to creep in. We must face the challenges we know exist, such as the fight against doping. To underline the zero-tolerance policy to which we are all committed, we have significantly increased the number of doping tests during the Turin Games. There will be an average increase of 72 per cent compared to Salt Lake City, bringing the total to 1,200 tests. For the first time, we shall carry out systematic blood tests, and all samples will be kept for the next eight years. For the thousands of athletes who compete cleanly and fairly, we have a duty to put in place the strongest measures to trap the small minority who cheat.
The Olympic Movement relies heavily on WADA in its fight against doping. In this respect, the Olympic Movement expresses its concern about the very slow rate of approval of the World Anti-Doping Code by the governments. We express the hope that governments who have promised to adopt the code by the first days of the Turin Games will move quickly.
In another area where there have been challenges in previous Summer and Winter Games, namely judging and refereeing, the IOC is delighted to see that good progress has been made. A number of new rules and processes have been introduced in several sports. The athletes indeed deserve to be judged according to a fair and transparent system. The International Federations have truly embraced this message, and for this I thank them.
The integrity of our Movement and the spirit of the Olympic Games also depend on our ethical standards. The rapid growth of sports betting commands us to be vigilant. We owe it to ourselves and our event to ensure that such activities are contained within the appropriate framework and do not have an adverse impact on our values or undermine the credibility of the competition.
On the subject of values, I would like to commend the International Ice Hockey Federation, which has implemented strict new rules against foul play.
In these coming days, we shall enjoy the Games in Turin. In the coming years we can look forward to Beijing 2008, Vancouver 2010 and London 2012. The preparations in all three host cities are advancing quickly. It is enormously encouraging to see that in all of these cities, as in Turin, the notions of legacy and sustainable development are well understood and fully integrated in the planning and preparation. These aspects will also be important in the choice of the Host City for the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014, for which we have seven excellent applicant cities.
The Winter Games bring the athletes the closest to nature, and since Lillehammer 1994 and its Green Games, the care for the environment has been a priority for the OCOGs and the IOC.
The IOC has introduced exciting new events in various sports. We still have this opportunity in the Olympic Winter Games that are not threatened by gigantism. These events will attract an audience from among our young generation and allow us to implement the necessary evolutions within the Olympic programme.
Before I conclude, I would also thank our television partners and sponsors for their support. The excellent image of the Olympic Games and the sound financial situation of the IOC are due to their investment in our cause. The substantial increase of our revenues will enable us to give very significant financial support to Organising Committees, the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees after the Turin Games. The IOC needs this support in order to be able to support the athletes, particularly also in the framework of the Olympic Solidarity programmes.
We can look with optimism into the near, medium- and long-term future. This is as a result of the fruitful cooperation inside our Movement between National Olympic Committees, International Federations, athletes, Organising Committees, television, TOP partners, the media and all the other partners. Thank you all, particularly my colleagues, the IOC members, for your constant support.
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