- 06 May 2015
Traditional welcome for IOC President in Auckland, New Zealand, at the new National Olympic Committee HQ
IOC President Thomas Bach was welcomed to New Zealand with a traditional powhiri (welcome ceremony) at the new NOC headquarters in Auckland on Tuesday.
“Like the Olympic Movement, the welcome ceremony signifies peace, friendship and equality, and it shows how New Zealanders embrace the same values we do of tolerance and understanding through sport”, he said.
IOC Members Barry Maister (hockey) and Barbara Kendall (windsurfing) were on-hand to greet the President on his first visit to New Zealand. President Bach went on to formally open Olympic House, the home of the New Zealand Olympic Committee. Later, at a press conference, the President encouraged New Zealand to think about hosting the Olympic Games: “You cannot restrict the right to host the Olympics to just 20 countries”, he said. “The Olympic Games are universal and we should open doors and windows. If New Zealand is ready to look into it, we are ready.”
He said that the changes brought about by Olympic Agenda 2020 encouraged countries to think about how the Olympic Games could fit into the social, economic, environmental and sporting needs of a country.
As well as meeting athletes and members of the National Olympic Committee and national sports federations, President Bach also met Minister for Sport and Health the Hon. Dr Jonathan Coleman.
President Bach also had an opportunity to gain insight into New Zealand’s strong sporting system. On Wednesday, he visited athletes at the Rowing New Zealand High Performance Centre in Cambridge, and after a visit to the local school he went on to the Avantidrome home of New Zealand Cycling, where he met a number of New Zealand Olympic medallists and hopefuls for next year's Games in Rio de Janeiro.
At the Avantidrome, the President also had an off-the-cuff talk with a group of 20 New Zealand athletes. They discussed the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, changes to the sports programme and the reforms being implemented under Olympic Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the future of the Olympic Movement.