TEXT OF RICHARD W. POUND SPEECH TO THE SPORTS SUMMIT
Lausanne, 19 January 2001 - Below is the text of the speech Richard W. Pound presented to the Sports Summit in New York. The Sports Summit is an annual conference
of sports media and business in North America.
THE STATE OF THE OLYMPIC MOVEMENT: 2001
Richard W. Pound, Q.C.
International Olympic Committee
2001 International Sports Summit
January 18, 2001
Good morning. As always, it is a pleasure to be here with you. Thank you for your kind invitation.
I wish all of you could have experienced the Sydney Games first hand. They were, without doubt, the best Olympic Games ever. The athletic competitions were, as expected, fantastic on the track, in the pool, and on the other fields of play, but there were poignant moments, that made the Games even more magic. Cathy Freeman’s lighting of the flame; the two Koreas marching together as one at the Opening Ceremony; Eric Moussambani’s epic struggle to finish his solo swim; the smiles on the hardworking volunteers’ faces; the Australian public’s celebrations at the Olympic Live sites. I could go on. It is episodes like these that make the Olympic Games ever more special.
Every edition of the Olympic Games has its heroes. You never know in advance who they will be and what the particular circumstances will be. All you know is that they will emerge. And, in many cases, they are not necessarily the Olympic champions. It happened again in Sydney.
Almost two years ago to the day, there were not many believers in this room when I stood up here in the middle of a nightmare crisis, pledging that the IOC would clean its house and that the Olympic Games in Sydney would be a resounding success. Since then, the IOC has instituted sweeping reforms, delivered the best Olympic Games in history and capped off its most successful marketing program to date. The IOC delivered on all counts, and the Olympic Movement closed out 2000 in its best shape ever.
All that is well and good, but we have no chance to relax and rest on our laurels. The next few years are laced with a number of challenges to which the IOC must respond to ensure its continued success.
Right off the bat, 2001 will be a year of important decisions that will launch the IOC into a new era. For one, the IOC will select the host city for the 2008 Olympic Games. The selection of the host site for the Olympic Games is always one of the most important decisions the IOC makes. This time, the decision will determine whether the IOC now feels it is the right moment for the Olympic Games to make their first visit to China or whether one of the four other highly qualified cities – Istanbul, Osaka, Paris, or Toronto – should host the Games instead. The selection of the host site of the 2008 Games is proceeding under the revamped host site selection process. The IOC Evaluation Commission, made up of external experts and representatives of the IOC, IFs, NOCs and athletes, will begin to evaluate the five cities next month. The final vote will come on July 13th in Moscow.
The most obvious ongoing task with which we have to concern ourselves is overseeing the organization of the Olympic Games themselves. In 2001, the IOC must continue to work with our partners in the three existing organizing committees to keep things on track.
In Salt Lake City, we are cooperating with SLOC and the USOC to put the finishing touches on the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, that show all the signs of being as successful as we hoped when the Games were awarded. Mitt Romney and his colleagues have pulled together an excellent team, and they have made up for any loss in time and organizational momentum the crisis may have caused.
Gianna Angelopoulos and her ATHOC team will be hard pressed to continue to meet very tight deadlines on their critical path to organizing the Olympic Games in 2004. 2001 will certainly be an important year for ATHOC, but the most critical elements that Athens must accomplish this year are in the hands of the Greek Government. There are several infrastructure projects that must be started by mid- to late-year in order for them to be completed on time. So while ATHOC must continue to plan, the government must start to build. I should emphasize that the Greek government is fully committed to the success of the Athens Games and that the IOC will fully, repeat fully, support its efforts in that respect. Our Coordination Commission, headed by Jacques Rogge, will use the experience of the Sydney Games to provide all possible assistance to the Athens organizers. The return of the Games to Greece provides the Olympic Movement with a unique opportunity to return to its roots and we are determined to seize that occasion to re-commit to the underlying Olympic values.
Turin’s organizers have their agenda under control and are making progress, under the very capable leadership of one of the icons of the Ol