International Olympic Committee President Dr. Jacques Rogge headlined an historic fundraiser in Quebec City May 22 that raised more than $800,000 in funds for Canadian athletes.
JACQUES ROGGE (President, International Olympic Committee): Thank-you very much, Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s pretty rare these days to be applauded before speaking. Ladies and Gentlemen, Quebec and Canada have a long and rich sports history. And given that a picture is worth a thousand words, let’s have a look at a short video about this brilliant past that you have given to Olympism.
– I declare the opening of the 1976 Olympic Games. Let’s celebrate the 21st Olympiad of the modern era.
– The opening of the 15th Olympic Winter Games in Calgary.
– Open the games of Vancouver, celebrating the 21st Olympic Winter Games.
[end of video presentation]
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to thank Canada and Quebec for their enormous contribution to the success of Olympism. I would also like to salute and thank the celebrities here today. Of course, Premier Jean Charest, a sports enthusiast; the Mayor who attracted Sport Accord to Quebec, and who is pursuing a dream that, we hope, will one day be realized…
Allow me to pay tribute to our host, Marcel Aubut. I have to say that it is very difficult to say no to Marcel. And when he invited me, of course I accepted with good grace.
Marcel has an irresistible energy and passion for sport. We all know his qualities, his history; 20 years leading the NHL, leading the Fondation nordique that has helped many athletes, and now, for the first time, Francophone President of the Canadian Olympic Committee.
Allow me to also pay tribute to the athletes here today who I have had the great pleasure to see in the parade, but to all athletes that, since 1904 at the Saint-Louis Games to Beijing, have won 161 medals in the Summer Games, and since 1924 at the Chamonix Games to Vancouver, have won 139 medals in the Winter Games, which makes 300 medals in total for all of Canada, 113 of which were Gold. Believe me, this is an incredible performance.
Canada is also a large sport organization country. With the three Olympic Games that you have organized, you belong to what I would call the Sports G6. In fact, only six nations have achieved this: USA, Japan, Italy, France and Germany, and of course, Canada.
And you also have plenty of other projects. For example, the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, and several other large sport competitions scheduled to take place in Canada and Quebec.
And what about the importance of the head office of the World Anti-Doping Agency in Montreal and the extremely high quality lab led by Christine Ayotte that helps us greatly in the fight against doping?
Ladies and Gentlemen, sport has been very successful and it is not your massive presence here today that has dissuaded me. Sport is successful because of massive participation, popularity and audience, collaboration with public authorities and its ability to generate revenue that is reallocated to the foundation of sport.
Let’s talk about participation. In most economically strong countries, more than 25 percent of the population participates in organized or unorganized competitive or recreational sports. If you add those who watch sports, and promote sports, one-third of the citizens of these countries have a true passion and practice for sport. It is a remarkable social phenomenon.
Also, let’s quickly speak of the audience generated by sports within the media industry. 4,700,000,000 people watch the opening ceremony for the Summer Games and 1,200,000,000 watch the opening ceremony for the Winter Games.
With respect to the ability to generate revenue, FIFA, the equivalent organization to the IOC, like us, generates five billion dollars every four years, of which more than 90 percent is reallocated to the foundation of sport with a particular interest in underdeveloped countries.
Of course this audience participation and popularity would never leave governments indifferent. Governments that know that sports signify health, and that sport is an important education platform.
And it is on this topic that I would like to warmly congratulate the Canadian public authorities for the great support they provide to sport, whether it is at the provincial level, bravo for what Quebec has done for sports, or at the federal level.
In various measures, and also at the municipal level.
In 2004, I was in Montreal and I remember speaking to the Premier about this program [inaudible] that was Own the Podium. There was an enormous amount of reluctance, plenty of doubt and a lot of questions. But you, Mister Premier, believed in it. The federal government believed in it, the economic world believed in it, and the sports world believed in it, and it led to winning all of those medals in Vancouver.
In spite of these great successes, sport cannot be complacent. We have challenges to overcome and these challenges are not material. They have nothing to do with good organization, a World Championship or the Olympic Games, nor with generating large television audiences or large revenues. No. Our challenge is immaterial, intangible. Our challenge is to preserve sport values.
Sport is threatened by doping, game manipulation and fixing, corruption, violence, racism, and a new social phenomenon, which is the inactivity in youth that is leading to obesity and cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
In addition to these dangers against which we must fight, sport also has a social responsibility to support disadvantaged people, to try and bridge the gap between the North that is rich and the South that is poor, which is what we are doing at the International Olympic Committee with our Olympic Solidarity project, in which a major part of our revenue goes to underdeveloped countries.
Social responsibility also means using sport as an education platform. We also have an obligation to respect the environment and work toward sustainable development. And what about women’s rights that are still not recognized at their fair value in sport?
Doping is our first and greatest challenge. Doping is detrimental to the health of athletes. It is also detrimental to the credibility of competition, because competition is based on hierarchy and hierarchy has no moral value if it is based on sport, and if there is no effort, there is no moral value.
The third reason for which we are fiercely fighting against doping is that doping can have an adverse affect on sport recruitment. It is mothers who drive their children to sport school, if mothers know that we will not fight fiercely to protect the health of their children, they will no longer bring them up to be sports-minded. They will do other things and we will lose them.
The IOC has been a pioneer in this fight since 1976. And at the end of the 90s, in collaboration with the governments, we created the World Anti-Doping Agency whose head office is located in Montreal, and I would like to pay tribute and thank your compatriot and my colleague Dick Pound who has remarkably presided over the WADA during his first term.
Thanks to the World Anti-Doping Agency, we have made great progress in the fight against doping. Is it conceivable that one day doping will no longer be in sport? No. Let’s not be naive, or believe in Utopia. Cheating is part of the human spirit and there will always be athletes that will want to cheat.
But I can say quite clearly that we have made incredible progress over the past 10 years with the World Anti-Doping Agency. We have doubled the number of tests in and out of competition. We store samples for eight years and retest them when new scientific advances arrive on the market. We have adopted the blood profile and we are fighting very hard to research a test for genetic doping that is not yet a reality but will appear on the horizon within five to 10 years.
But I am reassured by the fact that the experts tell us that we will have a test in good time.
A new risk that threatens sport is game-fixing and illegal betting. The development of Flash bandwidth allows anyone from anywhere in the world to bet on sports organisations. And alas bets are quite often an attempt to launder money by the mafia networks.
These mafia networks also attempt to change the game results in order to collect massive profits. It is a difficult problem because we need support from the public authorities, as we do for doping.
Only the public authorities have judicial power. They are the only ones that can listen and intercept telephone conversations, or search a home or premises.
This is why the International Olympic Committee took the initiative to bring together the entire world of sport and all countries in the world that legislated to establish a strategy and policy that will help us fight against this new plague that is truly quite worrisome.
Let’s talk about violence. Unfortunately, violence accompanies a lot of large sports competitions. It is quite often the result of youth who have lost hope, who do not have a career, or believe that they do not have a future. And this youth find a sense of community in [inaudible], they find a platform, an outlet to their frustration, which, unfortunately, leads to far too many cases of violence for which there is only one option and that is a direct collaboration between the sport authorities and the public authorities.
In addition to all of these challenges, another problem that worries us immensely is the inactivity, excess weight, and obesity of youth, which is causing cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
In developed countries, the current rate of overweight and obesity varies between 18 and 25 percent of youth aged five to 17 years. This is disturbing. It is disturbing and calls for a common strategy among all society stakeholders to fight against [inaudible]. Of course, the role of the parent is that they must know that their children need to move and provide them with adequate dietary advice. The role of the school, which is a mandatory passage for youth, is to provide more physical education, more movement, and more sports. The role of the public authorities is to stimulate sport for everyone. And sports centres must understand that they will have to change what they offer because, in today’s day and age, youth are primarily stimulated by computers, television, and mobile phones that provide them with an incredibly motivating horizon, against which sport should also fight because sport today, that was done automatically after work or study in my generation, is no longer done automatically. Sport must regain its place in society and we must help [audible].
The IOC and several large sports organizations also decided to assume their social responsibility. The IOC did this by partnering with the United Nations. We obtained observer status at the United Nations General Assembly, such as the Vatican, which provides us with several opportunities for bilateral agreements with several United Nations agencies. This is why we bring sport values to refugee camps. This is why we bring sport values to areas of conflict where we try to gather youth from both sides in a harmonious and sportsmanlike way.
We are also working very hard with underdeveloped countries and public authorities to build a sport infrastructure, and also intervene in natural disasters with local authorities to assist them in reconstructing their sport infrastructure. We did it after the tsunami in 2004. We did it after the earthquakes in Szechwan, Fukushima, and Haiti, and with mutual agreement with the local governments, we built what was destroyed.
Sport also plays an important role in education. We developed education models with UNICEF and UNESCO that we try and apply to the teaching profession, schools, universities, and the entire education sector.
At the Olympic Games in Beijing, we developed a sport incentive and Olympic sport value explanation program with our Chinese friends that was offered to more than 250,000 schools with 400 million youth aged nine to 15 years. Of course the program is only valid in China, but we did the same thing in India, with more than 20 million youth benefitting from the program. And we are multiplying these efforts more and more with the United Nations, UNICEF and national governments.
And, with respect to education, Ladies and Gentlemen, what about the newly created Youth Olympic Games for youth aged 15 to 18 in all winter and summer Olympic disciplines?
The Youth Olympic Games are not only a sport competition. Youth have their own Junior World Championship for that. It is a high level competition, but it includes a very sophisticated cultural and educational program. We instil healthy and active lifestyle, transmittable disease prevention, injury prevention, doping prevention. We insist on the fact that at the end of their sport career, they must go through a social and professional reclassification and that they must not forget their education. We also make sure that all cultures from the 200 countries intermingle at these Games, and that they know they have a very bright future.
We also fight for the environment, of course. The IOC and the large sports federations generate a lot of public work and we must follow strict requirements with respect to the environment and sustainable development. Speaking of sustainable development, allow me to congratulate you for the passion that you exemplified in this task in Vancouver. There was sustainable development and a remarkable urban, sport, human and social heritage in Vancouver.
And what about the hand held out by the First Nations, the First Nations who provided an extraordinary cultural aspect to the Vancouver Games?
Ladies and gentlemen, may I express the full confidence of the International Olympic Committee for the organization of these games?
Thank you, Sebastian [inaudible], thank you for your team, for the excellent work that you have done within budget and on time.
And I also would like to thank…
…the public authorities in Great Britain. Both from the government and the opposition, and a very great spirit of bipartisan approach to the games, both sides have supported us and this is a rare example and that deserves absolutely following through.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have spoken about the [inaudible] of the sport, I have spoken about the [inaudible] of the sport. And you might think that I have a sombre view on sport and that I’m pessimistic. But no. I remain very optimistic for the future of sport. Sport will remain popular and sport will remain a social asset because sport is about much more than competition alone. Sport is about education of the youth, sport is about social integration. Sport is about health. Sport strengthens the body and the mind. It forges the character, a personality and an identity. It integrates minorities into the mainstream of society. It teaches respect of the referee and hopefully and later respect of the rules of society.
It teaches that you achieve much more with a team and alone. And it is one of the rare social activities that nowadays can offer to the youth joy and a dream.
Ladies and gentlemen, if we can preserve the values, if we remain [inaudible] and strong on values then sport will remain a great success.
And now, to close, allow me to show sport at its best with a short video clip of the Vancouver Games. Video, please?