Speech of IOC President Jacques Rogge for the Opening Ceremony of the 122nd IOC Session, Vancouver, 9 February 2010
Your Excellency, Premier Campbell, Mayor Robertson, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Welcome to the 122nd Session of the International Olympic Committee. We are just days away from the start of the XXI Olympic Winter Games.
But let me first start by remembering the victims of the terrorist attacks in Angola where the bus of the Togolese football team came under fire. And in Pakistan where many sports fans were killed during a volleyball match.
And of course the people of Haiti are in our thoughts as they and the world community come to terms with the devastation in the wake of the earthquake last month. I will not let them down and the sports movement will help to rebuild the sports facilities in Haiti.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Over the course of 16 days, we will see the world’s best athletes competing in some of the world’s finest venues.
Rusty Goepel, John Furlong and the team at VANOC have done everything possible to ensure successful Games. Thank you so much for your dedication. I would also like to pay tribute to a man who, seven years ago in Prague, gave us a vision of these Games: Jack Poole.
I also want to thank Michael Chambers and Marcel Aubut, the President and the President-Elect of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and René Fasel, the Chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, for their hard work.
We appreciate the great support we have received from the public authorities of Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the cities of Vancouver, Whistler and Richmond, and the Four Host First Nations.
And, of course, we are indebted to the thousands of Olympic volunteers and to the people of Canada, who have truly welcomed us with glowing hearts.
Hosting the Games is always a complex and challenging undertaking. VANOC and its partners rose to the challenge without compromising the original vision for these Games.
That vision has established new standards for environmental sustainability and legacy planning. Everything that has been done to prepare for these Games was done with the athletes, the environment and the legacy in mind. The lessons learned here are a blueprint for future Games.
Our time in Canada is a good start to a momentous year for the International Olympic Committee. I hope all of you will be able to join us again in August at the first Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. The Youth Games, which combine sport, education and culture, will be a landmark event in our efforts to share the Olympic values and the joy of sport with young people.
Of course, tonight, our focus is on the Olympic Winter Games. More than 2,500 athletes from 82 National Olympic Committees have gathered here to pursue their dreams before 10,000 media representatives, 250,000 spectators and a global television audience of about 3 billion people.
The Games are a global celebration of sport. But we must never forget that the Games are not an end in themselves. They are a means to an end. They exist to promote the Olympic values, especially among young people. Every Olympic athlete, including those who never get to the medal podium, can be a role model for all of us.
The vast majority of athletes take that responsibility quite seriously. They know that there are no shortcuts to success. They inspire us with their dedication. They fill us with awe with their ability. We owe it to them to do everything we can to ensure that the competition is fair and free of doping. We will do our part.
I am pleased that tonight’s programme celebrates the Olympic flag and all that it represents. I am particularly happy because it has been given by my country, Belgium, in 1920. Those interlocking rings are one of the world’s most recognisable symbols. But unlike most symbols or brands, it doesn’t represent a product or a corporation. Its power is the power of enduring, universal values. That is why we are all here.
And soon, those values will come to life on the ice and snow in Vancouver and Whistler.
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