The Opening Ceremony of the 57th International Session for Young Participants on the hill of the Pnyx

During a simple ceremony that preserves the traditions, the philosophy and the values of the Olympic spirit, the President of the International Olympic Academy Mr Michael Fysentzidis declared the opening of the works of the 57th International Session for Young Participants on the hill of the Pnyx.

The Session that will be concluded on the 1st of July will attend 153 young people from 88 countries. The Session’s main subject is: “Governance in Sport and the Olympic Movement” and its special subject: “Ethics, Education and Governance in the Olympic Movement”.

The Deputy Minister of Culture and Sport Georgios Vasileiadis, the member of the parliamentary group of New Democracy Anna Karamanli, the IOC Honorary Members Lambis Nikolaou and the former King of Greece Constantine, the Vice President of the International Olympic Academy Athanassios Strigas  together with the rest of the IOA Ephoria Members, the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos, the General Secretary of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Manolis Kolympadis, the President of the European Taekwondo Union Thanassis Pragalos, the ex Minister and HOC Member Fani Petralia, HOC Members, the High Priestess of the Olympic Flame Katerina Lechou, the choreographer of the Olympic Flame ceremonies Artemis Ignatiou, the Board Member of Stoiximan, sponsor of the IOA, Ioannis Spanoudakis, and many personalities from the sport, political and cultural world were present at the ceremony.

During the ceremony Mr Ser Miang Ng, Member of the International Olympic Committee for Singapore, was awarded the honorary distinction “Olympia” and the National Olympic Academy of the Republic of Korea was awarded the honorary distinction “Athena”. Additionally, Mr Gordon Tang was honored with the honorary distinction “Athlon Megalis Choregias” for his support to the work of the IOA.

The IOA President, Mr Michael Fysentzidis, underlined in his speech: “Dear participants, it is obvious that good governance in the Olympic Movement is reflected in its visions, ideas, structures and operations, and concerns us all! Let us not forget! Specifically for you, the younger generations, good governance must be a life-long concern. You are the future of the Olympic Movement. The Olympic Movement depends on you, working to foster it when you return to your country.

This sacred site, where we find ourselves today, is the cradle of democracy and of respect for human dignity. Let us therefore be inspired by this site and contemplate the place and landscape, which through its silence teaches the centuries-old value of democracy, good order and virtue. From the bottom of my heart I wish you a very pleasant stay in Athens and in Olympia and I am certain that your participation in this session will shed light on the many facets of enquiry into good governance in the Olympic Movement.”

The IOC Honorary Member Lambis Nikolaou conveyed the wishes of the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, for the works of the 57th Session, and said: “Through Olympic Agenda 2020, its strategic roadmap for its future, the Olympic Movement, is addressing these expectations from society.

The reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020 focus on three main pillars: sustainability, credibility and youth. The last two pillars are the most relevant to our presence here. For any sport organisation, credibility starts with living up to the standards we set for others. If we expect ethical behavior on the field of play, we must demonstrate ethical behavior in our activities.

Good governance is not just the right thing to do; it is essential for the long-term viability of the Olympic Movement. This is why good governance is now part of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism.”

The Deputy Minister of Culture and Sport Georgios Vasileiadis underlined: “The sports movement is continuously gaining impetus amply proving that sport is instrumental in helping an individual to evolve.

Our aim, both on a level of political leadership and the sports edifice, should be to organise structures in the best possible manner, so that their operation facilitates involvement in sports, whether for citizens practicing amateur sports, or high level professional athletes.

Improving conditions implies a responsible and consistent sports policy that treats sports as a living being; capitalises on its human resources at all levels; attaches importance to educating its members and corrects what is wrong.”

The President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee Spyros Capralos also addressed the participants and pointed out: “Dear participants, you have an excellent opportunity to commence, right here, from Greece and the International Olympic Academy, a universal dialogue about ethics, education and good governance in the Olympic movement. The eminent professors who will be with you for the next two weeks will provide you with a fully-fledged framework from which to start off your discussions and kindle your creative thinking.

I believe that all of you, who will take part in the works of the 57th Session in the magic place called Olympia and International Olympic Academy, will be inspired by the subject of this year’s session. Above all, it is up to you to prove that Sport and Olympism is not merely competition, but a philosophy of life, a comprehensive value-based system for a better present and future of humanity.”

The musical parts of the ceremony were interpreted by Ms Kalliopi Veta, Ms Dora Loizou and Mr Manolis Skoulas who were accompanied by the Greek Music Workshop of the Municipality of Athens under the conduction of Mr Angelos Ilias. The Choir of the Commercial Bank of Greece interpreted the Olympic Anthem and the National Anthem of Greece under the conduction of Mr Stavros Beris.