IOC President emphasises role of the Olympic Games to unite the world at G20 Summit in Osaka

Today, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach had the opportunity to address the world’s leaders at the G20 Summit in Osaka (Japan). He was invited by Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, the host country of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

The world’s leaders received the speech with a round of applause. Prime Minister Abe praised the IOC and its President for their work and stressed the support for the mission of the Olympic Games. President Bach also had the opportunity to speak bilaterally to a number of Heads of States and a number of Heads of Governments.

In his speech, the IOC President spoke about the role of the Olympic Games as the only event that unites the whole world in peaceful competition. “In a year from now, more than half of the world’s population will follow the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The Olympic Games are the only event that brings the entire world together in peaceful competition. At the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the world will see athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team united,” he said (the full speech can be found here). 

Bach continued: “These 10,000 best athletes of the world are competitors in sport, but at the same time they are living peacefully together under one roof in the Olympic Village. At the Olympic Games, there is no discrimination; everyone respects the same rules; we are all equal. In this way, the Olympic athletes are sending an important message to the world: yes, it is possible to compete with each other, even for the highest prize, but to live together peacefully. In our fragile world we are living in today, such symbols of the unity of humanity in all our diversity give us hope for a better future.”

While praising the preparation and vision of the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, whose President Yoshiro Mori had joined the IOC President in the luncheon room with the G20 leaders, Bach emphasised: “The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will be not only the greatest sporting event in the world, they will also be an inspiration for sustainable growth. This approach is a perfect reflection of the IOC reforms to make sustainability central to all our activities. We walk the talk.”

The power of the Olympic Games is their universality, the IOC President stated. “The Olympic athletes are the best examples of this. Their performance creates the magic of the Olympic Games. Their amazing achievements, their effort, excellence, emotions, joy, tears – these are the Olympic Games.” He reassured the G20 leaders: “To make this possible, we need solidarity. This is the reason why we reinvest 90 per cent of all our revenues in the athletes and in developing sport around the world. In hard figures, this means five billion US dollars in the four years of an Olympiad. But please do not worry: not a single cent of taxpayers’ money goes to the IOC budget. We generate our revenues exclusively through sponsorship and media rights. But to be clear, for the IOC, money is not an end in itself. Money is just a means to achieve our mission.”

Bach underlined that the IOC is a values-based organisation: “This is what makes us different from for-profit sports businesses. I hope you will take this into consideration whenever you have to take decisions that affect sport.” 

Telling the participants about his own experience as an Olympic champion, the IOC President said: “The Olympic Games are the pinnacle of any athlete’s career. But at the same time, participating in the Olympic Games makes you humble because you become part of something bigger. You are part of an event that unites the world.”

He also asked the political leaders of the world for their support for the IOC’s mission: “We can accomplish this mission only if we stay out of any political dispute. This means we have to be politically neutral. But this is not enough. We depend on your, the world leaders’, support for our mission and our neutrality.”

The IOC President closed by saying: “I am so grateful that I can ask you personally today to support this precious and unique unifying role of the Olympic Games, making them this great symbol of unity in diversity of all humankind.”

The participants at the G20 Summit are leaders from 19 countries and the European Union (EU). Additionally, there were leaders of invited guest countries and representatives of invited guest international organisations.

For his mission to Osaka the IOC President was accompanied by IOC Member John Coates, the Chair of the Coordination Commission Tokyo 2020.


The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit independent international organisation made up of volunteers, which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of 3.4 million US dollars goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.


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