EbeneMagazine – UA – Thomas Bach: the Olympic Games can open the door to peace and neutrality


Thomas Bach is President of the International Olympic Committee and former Olympic fencer Photograph: Reuters / Denis Balibouse

Participating in the Olympic Games is an incredible experience for every athlete But it is also humbling when you realize that you are part of something bigger

You are part of an event that unites the world At the Olympic Games we are all equal Everyone abides by the same rules, regardless of social origin, gender, race, sexual orientation or political convictions

The first time I experienced this magic was at the 1976 Montreal Olympics From the moment I moved to the Olympic Village, I could feel the Olympic spirit come to life Living with my fellow athletes from all over the world opened my eyes to the unifying power of sport

As athletes we are competitors in sport, but in the Olympic Village we all live in peace under one roof Whenever Olympians meet, no matter where we are from or when we have participated in the Games, this shared experience immediately becomes the subject of our conversations

One incident, however, clouded my first Olympic experience Shortly before the Opening Ceremony, I looked out our bedroom window in the Olympic Village to see a large group of African athletes with bags packed. of them were in tears, others bowed their heads in desperation

After asking what was going on, I learned that they had to leave due to a last minute decision by their government to boycott the Games Their devastation to see their Olympic dream shattered at the last possible moment afterwards so many years of hard work and anticipation still haunts me today

This foreshadowed another watershed moment four years later, when I experienced the political powerlessness of sport during the boycott of the 1980 Moscow Olympics

As chairman of the West German Athletes’ Commission, I strongly opposed this boycott because it punished us athletes for something we had nothing to do with – the invasion of the ‘Afghanistan by the Soviet army

I had to realize that sports organizations had very little or no political influence, while on the athlete side we had very little to say Our voices were not heard by politicians or by our sports leaders It was a very humiliating experience

In the end, the West German National Olympic Committee (NOC) was one of many to boycott the Games.It is no consolation that we were ultimately right to say that this boycott not only punished the bad guys, it had no political effect at all; the Soviet army spent nine more years in Afghanistan

In fact, the boycott of 1980 only triggered the revenge boycott of the following Olympic Games Los Angeles 1984

These two experiences still shape my thinking today They made it clear to me that the central mission of the Olympic Games is to bring together the world’s best athletes from 206 NOCs in peaceful sporting competition

The Olympic Games are not a matter of politics The International Olympic Committee (IOC), as a civil non-governmental organization, is at all times strictly politically neutral Neither the attribution of the Games, nor the participation, is a political judgment concerning the host country

The Olympic Games are governed by the IOC and not by the governments The IOC invites the NOCs to participate, the invitations do not come from the government of the host country

It is the NOC which then invites its political authorities to accompany its athletes to the Games The Head of State of the host country is only authorized to pronounce one sentence, written by the IOC, to officially open the Games No other politician is allowed to play any role, not even during medal ceremonies

The Olympic Games are not about making a profit The IOC reinvests 90% of all its income in athletes around the world, especially in developing countries Money goes to the organizers of the Olympic Games who give athletes the stage to shine

The Olympic Games can unite the whole world through sport only if everyone can participate.This is why solidarity benefits all the athletes of the world Not just a few countries, or a few sports Our money benefits all athletes from 206 NOCs, the IOC Refugee Olympic Team and all Olympic sports, thus ensuring true universality and diversity

The Olympic Games are primarily about sport The athletes embody the values ​​of excellence, solidarity and peace They express this inclusiveness and this mutual respect also by being politically neutral on the playing field and during the ceremonies

At times, this emphasis on sport needs to be reconciled with the freedom of expression that all athletes also enjoy at the Olympics.This is why there are rules for the playing field and ceremonies protecting this sporting spirit

The unifying power of the Games can only be deployed if everyone shows respect and solidarity with one another. Otherwise, the Games will descend into a market of events of all kinds, dividing and not uniting the world

The Olympic Games cannot prevent wars and conflicts Nor can they meet all the political and social challenges of our world But they can set an example of a world where everyone follows the same rules and each other They can inspire us to solve problems in friendship and solidarity They can build bridges leading to better understanding between people In this way they can open the door to peace

The Olympic Games are a reaffirmation of our common humanity and contribute to unity in all our diversity As I have learned from personal experience, ensuring that the Olympic Games can deploy this magic and unite the whole world in peace is something worth fighting for every day

Monday to Sunday from October 19 to 25

Olympic Games, Summer Olympic Games 2020, International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, Tokyo

EbeneMagazine – UA – Thomas Bach: The Olympic Games can open the door to peace and to neutrality

SOURCE: https://www.ebenenews.com/news/ebenemagazine-ua-thomas-bach-the-olympic-games-can-open-the-door-to-peace-and-neutrality/?remotepost=110505


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