The International Olympic Academy held a true celebration of Olympism in Ancient Olympia to honour the Greek team that competed in the Rio Olympic Games.
Olympic Gold Medallist Anna Korakaki, Olympic silver medallist Spyros Gianniotis, Kostas Filippidis, the parents of Katerina Stefanidi and many more male and female athletes, who participated in the Olympic Games, were honoured by the IOA, not only for their success, but also their exemplary behaviour during their stay in that Brazilian city. The coaches who participated in the Greek team, as well as all the members of the mission who contributed in the flawless representation of Greece were also honoured.
Isidoros Kouvelos, President of the International Olympic Academy gave the awards and in his speech “The importance of Olympic Values in educating young people today and the role of Olympic medallists in this process”, he presented the role and vision of the IOA and told the athletes: “The International Olympic Academy is the global centre of Olympism for culture and education and every country must have its own National Academy, which operates under the IOA umbrella, whose obligation it is to spread Olympic values. Unfortunately, our country did not have a National Academy, which is why the National Olympic Academy started its first actions in 2009. Unfortunately, although Greece is the birthplace of the Olympic values, we forgot to teach our children the value of excellence, respect for diversity, friendship, fair play – virtues that were conceived in this land. I feel particularly fortunate that I am your host here, as President of this leading Olympic organisation and head of the most successful Greek mission of recent years. Your efforts, assisted by your coaches and escorts, gave rise to some of the most illustrious successes in the history of the modern Olympic Movement.
You truly shone and were a credit to our country and I am proud to have been head of this Mission. I would like to welcome you all and convey to you how proud I am of each and every one – in these difficult times you managed to make your dreams, as well those of all Greeks, come true. I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks not only to those who reached the top and became medallists, but also to all of you who participated in the celebration of sports and Olympism, because you are role models for youth in Greece and also you sacrificed many carefree moments and hours of studying to qualify for the Olympic Games. There would be no winners without you and together with the winners you make up the team that is able to teach young children, what teachers of theory are unable to do, because they have not lived through the glorious experience of the Olympic Games.”
Efthymios Kotzas, Mayor of Olympia; Giorgos Devves, the Vice-Mayor of Olympia; the members of the HOC Plenary Session: Stelios Aggeloudis, Petros Synadinos; former member Giorgos Yerolympos; Dora Pallis, member of the IOA Ephoria; Ileana Klokoni, Director of the National Olympic Academy; and Paralympics medallist Pavlos Mamalos attended the award ceremony in honour of the Greek mission.
Afterwards Professor Dimitris Gargalianos talked about the topic of a “Dual Career” and a wreath was laid at the Pierre de Coubertin monument by Olympic medallists Anna Korakaki and Spyros Gianniotis and while IOA honorary dean Konstantinos Georgiadis discussed the life of the man who revived the Olympic Games. The first day’s programme came to an end with a tour of the Historic Archive “Athens 2004”.
On Sunday morning a visit was carried out at the archaeological site and the museum of Ancient Olympia and events drew to a close with an open discussion with the athletes, coordinated by IOA Director Dionyssis Gangas. Interesting views were heard and concern was expressed about Greeks not being taught Olympic values, as well as the fact that Olympic medallists are not offered the opportunity to promote Olympic ideals.