Speech by Juan Antonio SAMARANCH, Marques de Samaranch, the IOC Presisent
The President of the Russian Federation, Distinguished guests, Dear colleagues and friends,
First of all, allow me, on behalf of my colleagues, to welcome the President of the Russian Federation, Mr Vladimir Putin, and thank him for having accepted to honour with his presence, the Opening Ceremony of the 112th Session of the International Olympic Committee.
I would like to welcome the Mayor of Moscow, Mr Yuri Luzhkov, our distinguished guests, and the representatives of the International sports Federations, National Olympic Committees, recognized organizations, the Organizing Committees of the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City (United States of America), Athens (Greece) and Turin (Italy), the candidate cities to host the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in 2008, Osaka (Japan), Paris (France), Toronto (Canada), Beijing (People's Republic of China) and Istanbul (Turkey), and also the media.
It is with great emotion, that I take the floor here today, in this historic city of Moscow, where on 16 July 1980, my fellow IOC members entrusted me, with the Presidency, of our more than century-old organization.
At that time, I was Spain's first ambassador to the former USSR, appointed by King Juan Carlos, a great friend of the Olympic Movement.
I was therefore, well placed, to follow the political orientation and developments, that resulted in the separation of each Member State that made up the former USSR.
Among the 14 new States which acceded to independence, 11 participated, under the auspices, of the National Olympic Committee of the Russian Federation, presided over by our colleague and friend Vitaly Smimov, at the Games of the XXV Olympiad in Barcelona in 1992, in a unified team, while they awaited the creation of their own National Olympic Committee.
The International Olympic Committee is grateful, to the Russian Federation, for having facilitated the transition, and provided the necessary support for the establishment of Olympic structures in these countries.
Although the Games of the XXII Olympiad in Moscow, in 1980, were penalized by the boycott of certain countries, for political reasons, those of you, who were in Moscow, will remember the excellent organization and warm welcome we enjoyed.
The Russian Federation, which has undergone political, economic and social changes, continues nevertheless to distinguish itself in the world's sport arenas. This country, rich in culture, has historic relations with the IOC and the Olympic Games, and it has made a considerable contribution at all levels.
As you very well know, this will be the last Session under my Presidency.
I have no intention of making an overall review of my Presidency; others will do it better than me. I will, however, take the opportunity during our meetings, to highlight the main points.
This Moscow Session is, for my part, an historic one, given that 21 years after my election and in the same city, we will proceed to elect my successor among the five candidates.
We will also designate, from the five candidates, the city which will host the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in 2008. Ten Olympic Games, Sarajevo, Los Angeles, Calgary, Seoul, Albertville, Barcelona, Lillehammer, Atlanta, Nagano and Sydney, have been organized under my Presidency. I am delighted that all these Games have been a great success, even economically for the Olympic Movement.
You will however agree with me, that the Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney, Australia, were the best ever. I would like, once again, to thank and congratulate the Australian people, for having opened the door of the year 2000 with such an exemplary success.
The preparations for the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Athens and Turin are on the right track, and there is no doubt that they will be crowned with success.
The Olympic Movement, continues to lead its fight against doping, by mobilizing Governments, through the World Anti?D Doping Agency, and through the remarkable work, carried out by our Medical Commission since 1967.
We have come a long way, since 1894 to the present time, and our path has been strewn with pitfalls, that have had to be avoided.
The long-term economic strategy we have developed, puts us on the safe side until 2012, thanks to television rights revenue we have negotiated. We have ensured our independence, without ever receiving any subsidy from a government. Our policy remains above all to allow all the peoples of the world to follow the Olympic Games through the national television channels, without extra costs. I am proud to be able to leave this heritage to the Olympic Movement, thus assuring its future.
The majority of the International Federations of Olympic sports, enjoy the stability of increased revenue to develop their sport in the world, thanks to their presence at the Olympic Games.
The National Olympic Committees also benefit from the Olympic Solidarity fund to finance their development programmes and participation in the Olympic Games. The universality of the Olympic Games could not be achieved without providing technical and financial assistance to those who are in need.
Hence, the initiative of Olympic scholarships allowing young athletes to prepare themselves seriously and to participate with dignity in the Games. This is how in Sydney, 70 scholarship-holders won 28 gold medals, 21 silver and 21 bronze, 92 received diplomas.
Let us not forget that without the athletes, there would be no Olympic Games.
The Olympic Partners (TOP) programme, established in 1985, is in its fifth quadrennial plan. The revenue generated ensures that the Organizing Committees of the Olympic Games, the NOCs and the IOC have additional resources available to fund their activities.
The Olympic Games are clearly, our main source of revenue, and it is vital to protect their universal character and prestige. I am convinced that my successor will continue to ensure the financial security of the Olympic Movement, beyond 2012.
The Olympic programmes have also changed since 1980; from 21 sports and 203 events, the programme of the Games of the Olympiad has increased to 28 sports and 300 events, while the Winter Games have increased from 6 sports and 38 events to 7 sports and 78 events.
Women's sport has been the main beneficiary here, since the participation of women in the Games of the XXVII Olympiad in Sydney reached almost 40%. It remains for us, however, to facilitate access for women to leadership positions in the structures of the Olympic Movement.
The fear ofgigantism in the organization of the Olympic Games has been under control since 1988. The number of participating athletes in the Games of the Olympiad is maintained at 10,000 and that of officials at 5,000. The shift to hosting the Winter Games two years after the Summer Games has also been extremely beneficial. At present, there are no small or big Olympic Games. There are only winter Games and summer Games.
My fellow IOC members and I, have spared no efforts to ensure that the institution, founded by Pierre de Coubertin, continues to play a major role in contemporary society.
The fact that the United Nations Millennium Summit, which brought together more than 160 Heads of State and Government, among whom, President Putin, included in its final Declaration, a paragraph on the IOC initiatives for the promotion of peace in the framework of the Olympic Truce, is de facto recognition of the Olympic Movement of which we are all very proud.
Throughout my Presidency, I have endeavoured to build a united Olympic Movement. I am aware, nevertheless, that this unity is fragile, and that it must be constantly cultivated. That is the key to our success.
I therefore urge my successor to do likewise. For, if it is not united, the Olympic Movement cannot flourish.
Allow me now to pay tribute to my colleagues and friends, the members of the International Olympic Committee, whose precious contribution, cooperation and dedication to the task, have been the source and the basis of all progress accomplished, a sign of true teamwork.
We are also proud that one third of the IOC members have taken part in the Olympic Games.
I would also like to pay tribute to the International Federations, who run their sport on a daily basis; National Olympic Committees, who represent the Olympic Movement in their respective countries; athletes, who play an important role; educators; officials, coaches, referees and the medical corps; the millions of volunteers; and to the IOC administration; who form the Olympic pyramid, for their invaluable service to the well-being of the youth of the whole world.
My thanks to the mass media for their contribution to the promotion of sport and the Olympic Games. To be often criticized has certainly been beneficial. It is perhaps, thanks to them, that I have remained as President for so long.
Finally let me express my sincerest thanks, to the people and the Government of Russia, the National Olympic Committee, and the City authorities of Moscow, for their warm welcome, and above all, for having extended their friendship towards me, for such a long time.
I now have the honour and privilege, of inviting the President of the Russian Federation, to formally open the 112th Session of the International Olympic Committee.