The President of the Hellenic Republic, H.E. Mr Prokopios Pavlopoulos, declared the Opening of the works of the 56th International Session, on the Hill of the Pnyx

155 young men and women and 22 coordinators from 91 countries will participate in the Session that will be concluded by June 25. The basic subject of the session is “Olympism as an effective tool for development and sustainability” and the special subject “Olympic values-based learning as an effective tool for environmental protection”.

The honorary distinction “Olympia” was awarded during the ceremony to Mr Ching-Kuo Wu, IOC Member for Chinese Taipei. Additionally, the honorary distinction “Athena” was awarded to the National Olympic Academy of Germany, that was represented by its Chairperson, Prof. Dr h.c. Gudrun Doll-Tepper, while the Member of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and President of the Hellenic Archery Federation, Mr Petros Synadinos, was honored with the distinction “Pierre de Coubertin” of the International Olympic Committee, for his long and manyfaceted contribution to Olympism and sport. The work of Mr Ching-Kuo Wu, the National Olympic Academy of Germany and Mr Petros Synadinos was presented by the IOA Director Mr Dionyssis Gangas.

H.E. Mr Pavlopoulos was the distinguished guest of the festive Opening Ceremony in the birthplace of democracy in Ancient Greece, while the President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Mr Spyros Capralos, the General Secretary of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, Mr Manolis Katsiadakis, the IOC Honorary members, Mr Lambis Nikolaou and King Constantine, the member of the Hellenic Parliament, Mrs Dora Bakoyannis and many other personalities of sports, cultural and political life attended the ceremony.

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

“Addressing the 155 young people from all over the world, I sought to underline the importance that the Olympic Movement places on the concepts of “evolution” and “change”. Moreover, I wanted to emphasize the role these young people will be called upon to carry out in the coming years, in formulating these concepts, and in contributing improvements to the world economy in which they co-exist.

Today’s societies throughout the world are increasingly facing ever more forms of pressure: social, economic and environmental in nature. Developing sustainability and incorporating this in every action taken by a society, including sport, thus becomes a necessity.

Particularly in the sensitive sector of the Olympic Μovement, although positive achievements can be clearly demonstrated, a more proactive approach embedding sustainability in all aspects of organizing the Olympic Games is needed. The benefits of leaving a sustainable and positive legacy to the host city, the host country and the whole community must be one of the primary objectives. Furthermore, sustainable development should be embraced by the whole Olympic Movement.

The IOC Honorary Member, Mr Lambis Nikolaou, read the message of the President of the International Olympic Committee, Dr Thomas Bach: “The overall mission of the Olympic Movement is to put sport at the service of humanity. It is about making the world a better place through sport. It is about recognising how essential the environment is for human development in order to build a better place for all.

It is this underlying philosophy – the connection of sport with universal values – that defines Olympism. This is why sustainability is one of the key pillars of Olympic Agenda 2020, alongside credibility and youth. Taken together, these three pillars of credibility, sustainability and youth provide us with a strategic roadmap for how we can shape the future of the Olympic Movement; how we can protect the uniqueness of the Olympic Games, safeguard the relevance of Olympic values in society and, above all, how we can ensure and strengthen the role and place of sport in society.

It is not by chance that the sport has been recognised by the international community as an “important enabler” to achieve the ambitious Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations at the UN General Assembly last autumn.”

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

“The International Session for Young Participants has been a long tradition not only for the International Olympic Academy, but also for Olympism as a whole, since in the premises of the Hellenic Olympic Committee in Ancient Olympia it prepares the future Ambassadors of the Olympic Movement.

This will be the case this year too: for two weeks, young people from all over the world will exchange ideas about the legacy of the Olympic Games, will be taught Olympic history and will be inspired by the Olympic principles and values. Besides providing education for the youth, the Session for Young Participants offers a unique opportunity to highlight the constant contribution of Olympism to modern culture and society. It also showcases the International Olympic Academy as a pioneer in the promotion of Olympic education and a unique platform for dialogue and exchange of ideas.

This year’s subject, the contribution of Olympism to development and sustainability, together with the impact of Olympic values on the environmental protection, goes beyond the boundaries of the Olympic family. It touches on a universal vital issue.”

The songs were interpreted by Ms Dora Louizou and Mr Manolis Skoulas, accompanied by the Greek Music Workshop of the Municipality of Athens under the direction of Mr Vassilis Drolias. The Children’s Olympic Choir of the National Olympic Academy of Greece interpreted the Olympic Anthem and the National Anthem of Greece, under the artistic direction of Stavros Beris.