The President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, declared at the Megaron Athens Concert Hall the Opening of the works of the 58th International Session for Young Participants that will take place in Ancient Olympia until June 30.
The main subject of the Session is: “The Athlete as a Role Model” and its special subject is: “Challenges an Olympic Athlete faces as a role model”. 187 young men and women from 90 countries will attend the works of the Session.
The Opening Ceremony was attended by the Deputy Minister of Culture and Sport, Mr Georgios Vasileiadis, the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Mr Spyros Capralos and the Secretary General, Mr Manolis Kolympadis, the President and CEO of the PyeongChang Organising Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, Mr Hee-beom LEE, the IOC Honorary Member, Mr Lambis Nikolaou, the Parliament Member for ‘Nea Dimocratia’, Mrs Dora Bakoyiannis, members of the HOC Executive Board and other eminent personalities from the sports, political and cultural world.
The IOA President, Mr Isidoros Kouvelos mentioned in his address: “The role of the International Olympic Academy through the Olympic Movement is to preserve and empower Olympic Education and to disseminate by any appropriate action the Values and Ideals of Olympism, so as not to be diverted from its fundamental Principles. That is what Pierre de Coubertin envisioned, that is the task assigned to us by the International Olympic Committee and that is what we are attempting methodically to implement.
Each year more than one thousand people: pupils, teachers and professors, scientists and speakers, athletes and coaches, members of the broader Olympic family cross the threshold of the IOA in Ancient Olympia and make their own contribution to what has been built throughout these years. Everyone at the IOA is very proud to work in harmony and with unity in order to disseminate Olympic Values. The International Olympic Committee and our proud sponsors, as they have chosen to be called, support our work and we would like to warmly thank them for their contribution to our actions”.
The Deputy Minister of Culture and Sport, Mr Georgios Vasileiadis, pointed out: “Today, in this age of social media, it is exceptionally easy for every act and piece of information to reach an interested party directly. It is now usual for the activities of people like elite athletes to be the focus of much attention on a global scale; a fact which constitutes a new challenge in the effort to appear consistent in the accomplishment of this obligation they have. Besides, Olympism is not only sport and competition, but also a philosophy of life, a system of values, with the example of athletes contributing to the endeavor for a better world through their behaviour. The increasing dynamics of the sports movement globally make it abundantly clear that sport is a means for the development of the human personality. The aim for us all, political leaders as well as all those who are part of the sports construct, is the improvement of conditions and achievement of a responsible and consistent sports policy to deal with sport as a living organism and make the most of its human capital at every level”.
The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Mr Spyros Capralos, mentioned in his address: “The conclusions you are invited to reach should not be superficial; nor are they easy. Nevertheless, what you need to know is that Baron Pierre de Coubertin himself had done the most significant and pioneering work to this direction. He defined Olympism as a philosophy of life, with major emphasis on the educational value of the good example and the respect of universal ethical principles. Thus, we could claim that he laid the moral foundation for the attitudes and behaviours to be adopted on the part of the athletes, the role models.
In the next days, at the very place where the Olympic Games were born, you will undertake a most significant task: that of promoting the Olympic values, so as to shape a better future, with respect to our fellow- human beings, with faith to peace and democracy.
Feel the aura of the ancient Greeks, elaborate on the Olympic legacy and live the experience! Thus, at the end of the Session, you will be able to convey to the Olympic family a message of hope and optimism, a message of support to the athletes, as well as the message of regarding the athletes as role models for society.”
The message of the IOC President, Dr Thomas Bach, was read by the IOA Honorary Member, Mr Lambis Nikolaou.
During the ceremony, the IOA honorary distinction “Delphi” was awarded to Mr Barry Maister, ONZM, IOC member for New Zealand, while the honorary distinction “Athena” was awarded to the National Olympic Academy of Japan. The honorary distinction “Athina” was awarded to Prof. Stephen G. Miller, Former President of the Society for the revival of the Nemean Games, Professor Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, USA, Former Director of the Nemean Excavations, Former Director, American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Finally, the honorary distinction “Olympia” was awarded to Prof. Dr Ingomar Weiler, Professor Emeritus at KarlFranzens University, Graz, Austria.
The musical parts of the ceremony were interpreted by the Greek National Opera’s Children’s Chorus, accompanied by the pianist Mrs Irene Antoniadou, under the direction of Ms Konstantina Pitsiakou. The adaptation of the Olympic anthem and of the National Anthem of Greece for the children’s chorus was made by Mr Giannis Belonis.