The challenges of 2009 demand an Olympic response
Looking back at a year dominated for the IOC and the Olympic Movement by the Beijing Olympic Games, itís natural to reflect not only on the success of the Games, but also on the new challenges and opportunities which all of us who care about the Olympic ideal must face in 2009, and which the past 12 months have brought into stark relief.
Beijing was an amazing success. More countries than ever before competed. More countries Ė 87 Ė won medals; more women participated; and 132 Olympic records and 32 world records were set. We witnessed incredible performances by athletes like Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt, and saw the kinds of moments which happen only at the Olympic Games, such as the embrace between Russian and Georgian athletes on the podium.
However, Beijingís achievement mustnít overshadow the Games to come in Vancouver, London and Sochi, or the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and Innsbruck. 2009 will also be an important year in its own right. In October, Copenhagen will host the 13th Olympic Congress. This will be an important milestone and a chance for the entire Olympic family to discuss and debate some major issues around the role of the Olympic Movement in society.
How can we use digital technologies to communicate the values of Olympism? How do we better connect with young people? What can we all do to encourage people to lead active, healthy lifestyles? These are just some of the questions we will grapple with at the Congress. Getting at some answers wonít be easy, but is very necessary.
The creation of exciting new initiatives, such as the Youth Olympic Games, is part of our response, but itís only by getting as many people as possible to provide their energy and ideas that we can learn what we need to harness the tremendous transformative power of the Games. This is the challenge of the coming year.
Given their role as a vehicle for public and private investment in lasting infrastructure and facilities, I believe there is no better time than the present for the Olympic Games. They provide the ultimate goal for athletes; a vision to inspire young people; an opportunity for volunteers to gain new skills and experience; and a fantastic chance to imagine a better world.
I wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season, and a great 2009.
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