OLYMPIC COMMITTEE NEWS THURSDAY
February 6 2014
World leaders attend first ever IOC President’s Dinner
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach tonight welcomed international leaders from the world of politics, business, media, science, culture and sport to the inaugural IOC President’s Dinner on the eve of the Opening Ceremony for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
Heads of states, governments and international organisations in attendance included President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping and President of Greece Karolos Papoulias.
Also attending were President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, President of Finland Sauli Niinistö, President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson, President of Latvia Andris Bērziņš, President of Mongolia Elbegdorj Tsakhiagiin, President of Montenegro Filip Vujanović, President of Serbia Tomislav Nikolić, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rhamon. Heads of State who are also IOC members included HSH Sovereign Prince Albert II of Monaco and HRH Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg.
Prime Ministers included Plamen Oresharski of Bulgaria, Najib Mikati of Lebanon, Algirdas Butkevičius of Lithuania and Abdelilah Benkirane of Morocco. Former Prime Minister of Japan and Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori joined, as did the former Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Gerhard Schröder.
“The purpose of this dinner is to show that the IOC is reaching out to society at large and is looking forward to an open dialogue with the worlds of politics, business, the media, science and culture. We want to share with you the Olympic spirit and the Olympic values”, President Bach said in his welcome speech.
“We have gathered here tonight just as the athletes are doing at this very moment in the Olympic Village next door”, President Bach continued. “Even though they are competitors, they are sharing a meal and enjoying being together in the Olympic community. So let us share this Olympic spirit here tonight.”
Also at the gala were President of the Russian Olympic Committee and IOC member Alexander Zhukov, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Kozak, Sochi 2014 President and CEO Dmitry Chernyshenko, and IOC members Vitaly Smirnov, Shamil Tarpishev and Alexander Popov.
Gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won 14 individual Olympic medals, more than any other Olympian in history, and legendary ice hockey goalie Vladislav Tretiak were among the prominent Olympians at the event.
Business representatives at the dinner included CEO of Coca-Cola Muhtar Kent, CEO of Panasonic Kazuhiro Tsuga, CEO of McDonalds Donald Thompson, and CEO of Omega Stephen Urquhart and the heads of Comcast/NBC and Russian broadcasters Channel One, VGTRK and NTV. The first woman in space, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova, soprano Anna Netrebko and violinist-turned-Alpine skier Vanessa-Mae were also warmly welcomed.
IOC doyen Vitaly Smirnov shared Master of Ceremony duties with Danka Bartekova, the youngest IOC member, aged 29. The Russian called the evening a night of firsts, both for his country and the Olympic Movement.
“As the longest-serving member of the IOC, I am delighted that I still have the opportunity to witness ‘firsts’ at the Olympic Games”, Smirnov said. “As well as this being the first ever Olympic Winter Games in Russia, this is the first ever IOC President’s Dinner, and it is a very welcome new initiative.”
Bartekova, a bronze medallist in skeet shooting at the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games, told the guests that the President’s Dinner was set to become a regular event at future editions of the Games.
UN Secretary-General speaks at IOC Session in Sochi
In an Olympic first, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today addressed the IOC Session in advance of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi.
Today I am in Sochi to witness countries uniting in a spirit of friendly competition and goodwill, he said on the final day before the Games Opening Ceremony. It was the first time that a UN Secretary-General had attended an IOC Session.
Ban Ki-moon praised the joint efforts of the UN and the IOC to use sport as a tool for social change, describing the two organisations as teammates.
That team the United Nations and the IOC are not competing on the ski slopes or skating rinks, he said. We are joining our forces together for our shared ideals. Sustainability. Universality. Solidarity. Non-discrimination. The fundamental equality of all people.
Ban Ki-moon renewed his call for all warring parties worldwide to observe the Olympic Truce and to lay down their weapons during the Games and to lift their sights to the promise of peace. He urged others to follow the example set by the Olympic Winter Games.
The athletes here carry the flags of different nations but they are all joining under the banner of equality, fair play, understanding and mutual respect, he said. Their histories, traditions and day-to-day lives offer a wonderful parade of human diversity. And the athletes send a unified message that people and nations can put aside their differences. If they can do that in Sochis sporting arenas, leaders of fighters should do the same in the worlds combat areas.
Ban Ki-moon also referred to the IOCs observer status at the UN and the many joint projects in the field and concluded: The United Nations will continue to partner with the IOC to build a better, freer and more equal world. I count on your engagement and your support. Let us work together to make this world better for all, receiving enthusiastic applause from the IOC members.
Responding to the Secretary-Generals remarks, IOC President Thomas Bach called Ban Ki-moon a great friend of sport and an inspiring world leader who stands for the same values the IOC is embracing.
Bach added, Sport is standing for respect and against any form of discrimination. In this respect we are teammates, and as you said, Olympic principles are United Nations principles.
After his speech to the Session, Ban Ki-moon attended the Sessions debate about the IOCs role in society and, just a few hours before he was scheduled to run with Bach in the Olympic Torch Relay in Sochi, the UN Secretary-General received a torch from the IOC President.
Ban Ki-moon will also take the opportunity to tour the Olympic Village, where he will sign the Olympic Truce Wall; and later attend the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games on 7 February.