Press Release

The President of the Hellenic Republic, H.E. Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, declared the Opening of the works of the 55th International Session for Young Participants of the International Olympic Academy yesterday, Sunday afternoon, on the Hill of the Pnyx.

175 young men and women from 90 countries will participate in the 55th International Session that will be concluded on June 6. The special subject of the session will be “Olympic Movement: The process of renewal and adaption”.

H.E. Mr Pavlopoulos was the distinguished guest in the Opening Ceremony while personalities of sports, cultural and political life such as the Deputy Minister of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs, Mr Nikos Xydakis, the IOC members, Messrs Lambis Nikolaou and Zaiqing Yu and Ms Lingwei Li, the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Mr Spyros I. Capralos, the Member of the Parliament, Mrs Dora Bakoyannis and the President of Olympiakos FC, Mr Vaggelis Marinakis, sponsor of the IOA master’s degree programme “Olympic Studies” also attended the Opening Ceremony.

During the ceremony, the National Olympic Academy of Spain was awarded with of the honorary distinction “Athena” which was given to its President Mr Conrado Durántez.

The IOA President, Mr Isidoros Kouvelos, stated in his address:

“Every time I visit Ancient Olympia, in order to attend the Sessions’ proceedings, when I look at the young people and live with them every minute that passes, I feel proud as a Greek that my country can offer them, through the International Olympic Academy, educational and cultural activities that lead not only to their love for sport, Olympism and civilization, but also to something more, their love for Greece. The timeless work of the International Olympic Academy has been repeatedly recognized, at international level, rendering it the unique Olympic Education Centre worldwide, while the Master’s Degree in “Olympic Studies” which is taught, these last six years, in its facilities in Ancient Olympia enjoys, because of its content, international exclusivity. Nevertheless, in our country, the International Olympic Academy and its work, still remain unknown, despite our efforts. The state has unfortunately gradually abandoned the obligation it had assumed towards the IOC and drastically reduced the annual grant. Maybe it has not been sufficiently aware of the important work we are doing and Greece’s major advantage, which is to host a unique educational and cultural institution, an institution that promotes our country and its civilization realizing the vision of Pierre de Coubertin. Olympism, he used to say, is a way of life. The Academy, dear friends, is the love of life. When you stay a few days in Ancient Olympia, you live a break of joy and euphoria in your souls. It is a tender postscript to the great history of this place, the solidarity you are experiencing, the crickets you hear in the evenings. It is a figure that has the shape of all of us who loved it and still love it. It is the treasure of the Olympic Movement!”

During the Opening of the works of the 55th Session, H.E. Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos underlined that:

“The annual Session aims at, according to the Statutes and the purpose of the International Olympic Academy, promoting and disseminating the fundamental principles of the Olympic Movement, which emanate from the timeless Olympic Spirit; in particular the principles of noble competition within the context of fair play for they act as core constituents of Democracy and Freedom. It is rather easy for each and every one of us to grasp the significance of Democracy and Peace in these tough times. Times, which are dire not just for Greece but for Europe and the entire World, given the corrosive impact this singular, quasi-global, economic war, which is being waged in a latent manner, is having as it primarily deals a blow to the social fabric of various countries and peoples. Considering the aforementioned, opting to hold today’s opening ceremony on the Hill of Pnyx is not merely an ideal choice but is rather imperative, literally. This is the very location where after the 6th century B.C. the Athenian Republic in essence practised the supreme institutions of direct democracy via isonomy and isegory, thus allowing the Spirit that led to the blossoming of Culture and the Sciences to grow to date.”

The IOC member, Mr Lambis Nikolaou, after passing on the best wishes of the President of the International Olympic Committee, Dr Thomas Bach, said: “Dear young participants, you are the future of the Olympic Movement. Over the next few days, you will be taking an in-depth look at various themes linked to the Olympic Movement. We want you to tell us what you think, what you want and what you suggest concerning how sport can play a greater role as a force for positive change around the world. And once you return to your respective countries, please share your ideas and pass on the spirit for the sake of a bright future for our Olympic Movement. Before concluding, I would like to thank once again the International Olympic Academy, its President, my friend Mr Isidoros Kouvelos, the Ephoria members, the teachers and the lecturers for their contribution to promoting the Olympic ideal year after year for more than 50 years.”

The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Mr Spyros I. Capralos, said:

“Beyond the education of the youth, the Session for Young Participants is a unique opportunity to showcase the unfailing contribution of Olympism to modern culture. At the same time, it highlights the leading role of the International Olympic Academy as pioneer in the propagation and promotion of Olympic education, as a unique and very special cultural establishment and a platform for dialogue and exchange of ideas. Without a doubt, this year’s special subject “Olympic Movement: The process of renewal and adaption”, is the motto for renewal and modernization, as announced by the IOC President himself, Mr Thomas Bach, with the 40 pioneering changes he proposed during the 127thIOC General Assembly of Monaco last year! Through the “Agenda 2020”, the IOC President presented his own vision for the reforms which will lead the Olympic family to a new era, making the Olympic Games more flexible, less costly and more friendly to the host cities. The world has changed indeed and all of us, belonging to the Olympic family, need to adjust accordingly. We need to become more receptive to new ideas, more flexible and listen carefully to the “commandments” of modern age.”

Finally, the Deputy Minister of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs, Mr Nikos Xydakis, said: “This all-human monument, the cradle of Democracy, is the most appropriate place for the annual meeting of tomorrow’s ambassadors of the Olympic Movement. When Youth meets history, it becomes a carrier of all-human civilization. I am certain that this year’s proceedings, under the title of “Olympic Movement: The process of renewal and adaption» will broaden the horizons of the Olympic Spirit, fair-play, honest and clean contest, peace, interaction, fraternity and truce and will impart democracy, egalitarianism, collective effort, team spirit and tolerance. At a crucial crossroads for Europe and the world, may the Olympic ideals that are indissolubly linked to universal civilization be enriched with the answers that mankind seeks in order to deal with the difficult times we are living.”

The Greek Soprano, Ms Gina Fotinopoulou interpreted the musical parts, accompanied by the Symphonic Orchestra of the Municipality of Athens under the conduction of MrEleftherios Kalkanis.

The Male Choir of the Commercial Bank interpreted the Olympic Anthem and the National Anthem of Greece under the conduction of Mr Stavros Beris.