With the Danish national anthem, followed by the Olympic anthem, the 121st Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) opened this evening at a ceremony organised at the Copenhagen Opera House, in the presence of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark and all the representatives of the Olympic Movement.
An intense Session
After thanking his Danish hosts for the excellent organisation and stressing their rich sporting history, President Rogge declared at the outset that both the Session and the Congress will deal with some important business. And the first decision will be quite intense – at least for the four Candidate Cities – with the election of the host city for the 2016 Games tomorrow. Then, after an equally intense interlude with the Olympic Congress, the IOC members will gather again to vote on a proposal to add two new sports to the Olympic programme.
Young people at the heart of priorities
The 2009 Congress is not only the first in 15 years and the first of this new millennium, but also the first with the participation of the general public on such as vast theme: “The Olympic Movement in Society”. This Congress should allow the participants, explained President Rogge, “to take stock of our Movement and chart its future in this new millennium, while considering vital questions related to our responsibility to serve the world’s young people.” The organisation of the Games, as well as societal challenges linked to the growing inactivity of young people, will also be on the agenda of the Congress.
Keep focused on intangible values
In today’s society, the Olympic values are perhaps more important than ever. Thus as President Rogge put it, “the IOC will continue to apply its zero-tolerance policy for doping, match-fixing and corruption, which seriously threaten sport. We will continue to live by our fundamental values of fair play and respect, of universality and solidarity between rich and poor. We will continue to defend and promote the respect of ethics and good governance in sport.”
An Olympic Movement stronger than ever
President Rogge ended by stressing, “like every other major organisation, we have felt the effects of the global economic downturn. We have met the challenges together, and our Movement is as strong as ever,” before thanking all the stakeholders including the NOCs, IFs, Organising Committees for the Olympic Games and the Youth Olympic Games, as well as partners for their continued commitment to the Olympic Movement. After thanking his IOC colleagues for their continuous support, President Rogge concluded, “We have much to do, but I am confident that our work here in Copenhagen will improve and strengthen our Movement for years to come”.
A second time for Copenhagen
For the Danish NOC, hosting such an important IOC Session is not a first, as President Rogge recalled in his speech, “At the 45th Session in 1950, the IOC provisionally accepted the newly formed National Olympic Committee for West Germany. Our return to Copenhagen comes a month before the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the event that led to Germany’s reunification and major changes in our world”.