Pere Miró: “The great thing about these 30 years at the IOC has been working with exceptional people”

05 Apr 2022
IOC News

In his office at Olympic House, Pere Miró laughs at the countdown that his staff have drawn on the wall: R-1! Retirement day has arrived for the Catalan, who has held various strategic posts within the IOC for almost 30 years. But an active retirement, as he will continue to work as Senior Advisor to the IOC President.

Pere Miro IOC/Greg Martin

Pere Miró joined the IOC in November 1992 at the request of President Juan Antonio Samaranch, with whom he had worked closely during the Games in Barcelona. Working in tandem with the IOC Sports Director, he formalised the way in which the IOC interacted with the Organising Committees. Then came an exciting career with increasing responsibilities and the continued trust of the Presidents who succeeded Samaranch: Jacques Rogge and Thomas Bach.

Pere Miró overcame all the challenges. Among other things, he was tasked with setting up and then leading the Olympic Solidarity Department, before creating and then heading the Relations with the National Olympic Committees Department. He stood down from this position in 2019 but continued in the key role of Deputy Director General for Relations with the Olympic Movement.

Sport is a school of life, a way of life. Its role in our societies is more important than ever. Pere Miró

 

He always listened and offered advice, with his trademark smile and kindliness. He travelled the world, creating strong bonds with all the Olympic Movement stakeholders, and making friends, too.

When you ask him what he is most proud of, he talks fondly about his team, with a mixture of recognition and emotion.

I’m not really a creative person, but I think I know how to listen, choose good ideas and then put them into practice. That’s what I’ve done all my life. Pere Miró

 

It isn’t easy to sum up in just a few lines the career of an extraordinary man driven by his passion for sport and its values. A passion that he put into practice playing water polo for 15 years, and which he has never stopped sharing with all those lucky enough to meet him.

You have played a part in the success of 18 editions of the Olympic Games. What have been the most defining moments for you?

The first was certainly Seoul 1988, my first Games as an observer. I discovered their grandeur and universality. I was impressed, but I think that I was also afraid for the first time in my life, as I knew that we would have to organise the Games four years later!

The second defining moment for me was obviously the Games in Barcelona. Here’s a little story. I was based in the Main Operations Centre together with the three other deputy directors general in charge of operations. We were stuck there for the whole of the Games. On the day of the Opening Ceremony, we were told that we could go to the stadium, but that one of the four directors would have to remain on duty to deal with any emergencies. I was the one who stayed, as I couldn’t leave the rest of the team, who had no choice in the matter. We all had a unique time watching everything on TV, and we opened a few bottles of Catalan cava that night…

The third moment was the Games in Beijing in February this year, despite the difficult circumstances that we all remember. Organising the Games is a very complex affair, and the risk when you are working all the time to resolve the day-to-day problems is that all the magic disappears. In Beijing, as I had more of a background role, I had more of a chance to see the Games. For the first time, I was able to go to the three Olympic villages, to sleep there and work with my teams. I could see the Games through the eyes of these young people who had experienced no more than one or two editions in their career. And I rediscovered the magic I had felt in Seoul.

How do you see the role of sport in our increasingly troubled and divided world?

Sport plays a vital role in our current societies. If I’m honest, I have to admit that, in 1992, what mattered to us as the organisers was how the Games would affect us on a local level. We also wanted to offer the athletes a unique stage on which to perform, and a show for the whole world. Today, we look at how the Games and sport can help to improve health, respect the environment and promote gender equality. The approach has changed a lot. At the end of the day, Pierre de Coubertin’s vision of using sport to build a better world is more relevant than ever.

Over 30 years, I’ve also seen sport’s power to rebuild. I have helped the IOC to be active in the reconstruction process in countries devastated by war. I’ve seen what sport has given to the men and women of Bosnia, Timor Leste or Afghanistan. Today, we have to believe in that power more than ever.   

What message would you like to share with young IOC staff members?

You are very lucky! The vocation of the Olympic Games is more relevant than ever. The Games and sport help to move the world forward. We can do it if we believe in ourselves.

Do you have any plans?

I’ll be around and ready to lend a hand if I’m needed!

On a personal level, I’m going to do three things that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. The first is learn to play the piano. Music has always had a special place in my life, but I’ve never learnt to play an instrument. I shall also learn a language, its culture and its history. And lastly, I’m going to explore Switzerland on foot. Yes, I’ll be staying in Switzerland. That reminds me of when, a few days after I’d arrived at the IOC, President Samaranch told me: “You’ve come here because you like the Games and the Olympic Movement. But you’ll like living in Switzerland even more.” He was right!

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