2008: year of challenges and opportunities!
With just eight months to go until the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games Opening Ceremony on 8 August at 8 p.m., it may seem natural to be preoccupied with Beijing. As 2007 comes to a close, however, the IOC has not lost sight of future Games to come in great cities around the world or the challenges that sport continues to face today.
As in sport, challenges can offer remarkable opportunities. Our goal for the International Olympic Committee in 2008 is to achieve as much as possible from these opportunities.
The many high-profile doping revelations in 2007 might make some observers think that we are losing the battle. I disagree. The fact that so many instances of unfair play were revealed, and that more athletes admitted responsibility, tells us that we are on the right track.
Illegal betting presents a formidable threat to the credibility of sport. It must be fought in the same aggressive way in which we are fighting against doping. In 2008, zero tolerance for illegal betting and doping offences has to reach out at an even higher level.
Fighting against these threats will help create a more level playing field for sport and for the young people who are essential to its future. I was very pleased when the IOC wholeheartedly approved the new Youth Olympic Games last July. The first candidate cities have already been announced, and we are convinced that these new Games will help encourage young people to participate according to best practices and principles as early as possible.
The IOC was honoured that it was chosen to receive a United Nations Environment Programme Champions of the Earth Award in 2007. Our achievements to host “green” Olympic Games earned the recognition of the expert community. The IOC will continue to support new standards for host cities to conduct sustainable Games.
Among the IOC’s challenges ahead in 2008, the dialogue surrounding Beijing will likely increase in volume. A remarkable amount of effort and dedication has been focused on an array of social and political issues in China, as Beijing prepares to host the Games. This, too, is natural. It is positive proof that we live in a world in which citizens are concerned and eager to express what they believe is best for the common good.
The IOC hopes that Beijing 2008 realises its potential as a spectacular Olympic Games. We can be certain that the Games alone are a powerful catalyst, even if to show that challenges often provide opportunities that can have profound potential.
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