17 Oct 2019
Speaking to the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), IOC President Thomas Bach called on the audience to “respect political neutrality in everything you do”. “It is not up to sport to take political sides,” he said. “Our mission is to unite the entire world in peaceful competition. To achieve this, we must keep solidarity, political neutrality, respect and unity in everything we do and everything we say.”
Speaking at the meeting in the Qatari capital, Doha, President Bach added: “We are living in a diverse world where your neighbour may think differently and may not feel the same way and may have a different opinion. Respect your neighbour, respect all the members of the Olympic family and don’t take political sides. Concentrate on the unity of sport, concentrate on what unites us, and not on what divides us or those who try to divide us.”
With representatives of more than 200 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in the audience, President Bach highlighted the importance of solidarity to the unity of the Olympic Movement.
“To achieve our mission, we must keep solidarity, political neutrality, respect and unity in mind. There can be no National Olympic Committee putting its interests first; no sport can put its interests first; no individual can put his or her interests first. We must all put our mission first. We must keep solidarity, respect and unity in mind.”
And President Bach criticised those who want to see the Olympic Games as a business model, which would only be about “maximising profits” at the Olympic Games.
“To be extremely clear, the Olympic Games are not about making money. The Olympic Games are not about maximising revenues,” he said. “The Olympic Games are there to accomplish our mission to unite the world through sport, to promote and defend our values. Money for us is just a means to achieve our mission,” he added.
President Bach also gave a warning that if the Games became a business model for maximising profits, “we would not have 206 NOCs, we would not have the Refugee Olympic Team, we would not have athletes from 33 sports in the Olympic Games. It would only be a very select group of athletes in a select group of a few of the Olympic sports. And the Olympic Games as we want them, and the Olympic Games as they have been conceived, would cease to exist. We would just have another entertainment product.”