Every year, in keeping with tradition, the opening ceremony of the International Session for young participants, is held on the sacred Hill of Pnyx. This is a site of major historic significance, the place where the Athenian Democracy was born 2,500 years ago.

The summit of the hill of Pnyx was given its present shape in the 4th century B.C. Against the magnificent backdrop of the Acropolis, high above Athens, on the Hill of the Pnyx, the world is welcomed to Greece, to the International Olympic Academy, to Olympism and to a philosophy, which is the legacy of centuries.

Prize awarding

Every year since 2003, during the Opening Ceremony of the International Session for Young Participants on the hill of Pnyx, the International Olympic Academy has established to honour with the equal prize "Athina", "Delphi" "Athena" and "Olympia" prominent personalities in the sports and intellectual field who have rendered valuable services to the IOA and the Olympic Movement and culture in general. In 2008 another two equal prizes, "Knossos" and "Vergina", were also introduced.

It has always seemed especially important for our Olympic Movement not to forget its roots. This ceremony which is enacted each year in identical fashion, at this very site opposite the sacred hill of the Parthenon, here in Athens where every stone, every place, every name evokes our common history, the history of humanity, this ceremony as I was saying, appears to embody exactly this loyalty, this continuity through time, across the centuries.

Juan Antonio SAMARANCH