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27 Apr 2010
IOC News

SportAccord opens in Dubai

At the Opening Ceremony of the SportAccord Convention currently taking place in Dubai, IOC President Jacques Rogge recalled the great legacy Juan Antonio Samaranch has left the Olympic Movement. The full text of the President’s speech appears below.

Hosted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the SportAccord Convention is taking place in the Middle East for the first time. The event, which is held annually, brings together representatives from the 100 international sports federations and organisations, along with sponsors, architects, sports lawyers, broadcasters, rights holders and other sports leaders, to discuss the key issues facing the sports world. The IOC’s Executive Board will also convene in Dubai during this period.

Speech of IOC President, Jacques Rogge - Opening Ceremony of SportAccord

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear friends,

It is a pleasure to be with you in Dubai.

I would like to start by thanking His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for welcoming us to the United Arab Emirates. Thank you for a flawless organisation and a great hospitality.

May I commend and thank His Highness for having had the vision to include sport in the development of the country 15 years ago.  This has yielded great results and has transformed Dubai into a great sporting country.

I also want to thank and pay tribute to a great sports leader whose impact will last far beyond his time on earth.

We are all grieved by the death of Juan Antonio Samaranch.
It is difficult to compare different times and different circumstances, but I believe Juan Antonio Samaranch was the most influential leader of the Olympic Movement since our founder, Pierre de Coubertin.

When he was elected IOC President in 1980, the future of our Movement looked rather gloomy.

The rules regarding amateur and professional athletes had become unrealistic and ineffective.

International tensions threatened the unity of the Olympic Games, with boycotts in 1976, 1980 and 1984.

Our financial foundation was weak. The IOC could not support IFs, NOCs and OCOGs as it does today.

The IOC had fallen behind the times, especially in its failure to remove barriers for women.

Juan Antonio Samaranch addressed all these issues and left a great legacy.

He made the Games the premier global event they are today.

He modernized the IOC, making it more representative, more transparent and financially stronger. He added the first women members.

His innovations have become respected institutions. The Court of Arbitration for Sport, the World Anti-Doping Agency and the IOC Athletes’ Commission can all be traced back to him.

He strived constantly for unity within the Olympic Movement.

His spirit is with us as we seek to build on the legacy he left us.

We now face new challenges in this new century, but by working together, we will turn challenges into opportunities.

I want to congratulate SportAccord and its president, Hein Verbruggen, for providing this valuable forum for the International Federations. The federations serve on the frontlines of the Olympic Movement. You are the vital link to athletes.

I look forward to a productive and successful meeting and to your support to the Olympic Movement.

Thank you.

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