Addressing the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) in Tokyo, IOC President Thomas Bach highlighted that, with the long-term stability of the Olympic Games ensured, the Olympic Movement can look to the future with great confidence.
The stability of having secured hosts for future Olympic Games, together with long-term agreements in place with Worldwide TOP Partners and Rights-Holding Broadcasters, allows the entire Olympic Movement to plan for the future. He said that the whole Olympic Movement benefits from this stability. “What is even more important is the confidence that is expressed by our partners in our Olympic Movement, in the Olympic Games and in the IOC,” he said. “This is the real message, and we should never forget this because this confidence we have to earn. We have to earn it every day.”
He warned that it is easier to lose than to build confidence. “Therefore, we have to make an effort every day, so the same rules of good governance can and must apply to everyone in the Olympic Movement.” President Bach reiterated his call to all NOCs to apply high standards of good governance in all activities: “I will not get tired of repeating that, with regard to good governance, what affects one of us affects us all. This is why each and everyone has a responsibility to keep this confidence alive.” In this context, President Bach said that Sheikh Ahmad Al-Sabah had understood this message very well, and he paid respect to the decision by the Sheikh to temporarily step down from his role as ANOC President. “He has drawn the right conclusions. For this reason, the IOC Executive Board has made two very clear statements. We have said, first of all, that we respect the decision he took on his own will, and we recognise that this decision was taken in the interest of all of us. But we also stated, at the same time, that stepping aside temporarily cannot be interpreted as any admission of guilt and that the presumption of innocence has to prevail.”
Calling the recently adopted Athletes’ Declaration of Rights and Responsibilities a “milestone achievement”, President Bach explained: “What is significant in this Athletes’ Declaration is that it is about rights and responsibility.” The Declaration was developed by the IOC Athletes’ Commission with input from over 4,200 athletes from all over the world. “With this Declaration, they can really say: we are speaking on behalf of the athletes of the world. This we should respect because they have legitimacy,” he said. Calling on all the NOCs to support and endorse the Athletes’ Declaration, he emphasised that it is the elected athletes who can speak on behalf of the world’s athletes.
In a wide-ranging speech, President Bach also touched on the right of athletes to compete without discrimination, mentioning recent cases of host countries of sports competitions not allowing athletes from countries which they do not recognise diplomatically to enter the host country or use their national symbols. He reiterated that the IOC stands firmly for the principle of non-discrimination and will not be satisfied with intervening in individual cases. Rather it is taking further steps and calling on IFs not to award a sporting event to a country that does not respect the principle of non-discrimination. He strongly appealed to the NOCs to defend and protect this principle: “It is not only a core value of ours, it is also in your own interest.”
The speech ended with an impassioned call to the Olympic Movement to stand together for its principles and the values of sport. “We are living in a world where there is a lot of mistrust against everything, also against us, and against any kind of leading organisation.” He said: “We have to make it clear that we stand for dialogue. We stand for peace. We stand for diversity. We stand for universality. We stand for tolerance. We stand for respect. We stand against any form of discrimination in this sporting world.”
“Nobody should have any doubt. The more our values are challenged, the more we stand together.”