International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has delivered an uplifting year-end review of 2016 in which he claimed sport has shown its power to “unite all people in an increasingly fragile world.”
The German claims this was shown by the success of Rio 2016, which will be remembered as the “marvelous Games in the marvelous city.”
He claimed this was shown by participation of athletes from all 206 National Olympic Committee as well as a new Refugee Olympic Team which “sent a strong signal of hope” to millions of refugees around the world.
This came in a 1,500 word message posted on the IOC website which also touched on Russian doping problems and sporting governance challenges.
It came in a year dominated by terrorist attacks and conflict across the world.
“This unique power of sport to unite all of humanity is one of the most important things that the Olympic Games can give us in our troubled times,” the German wrote.
“In a world where mistrust and uncertainty are on the rise, sport is a source of joy and inspiration for so many people, giving us hope that our shared humanity is stronger than the forces that want to divide us.
“Half the world’s population tuned into Games coverage, making Rio 2016 the most-consumed Olympic Games in history, when one takes into account broadcast and social media.
“The explosion of social media platforms in recent years meant that more people than ever followed these Olympic Games via social media, with 7.2 billion views of official video content.
“An international survey has found that these Olympic Games are strongly associated with positive attributes such as ‘excellence’, ‘friendship’ and ‘respect’, among many others.”
However, his comments will raise eyebrows due to the vast problems faced by Brazilian organizers ahead of and during the Games.
Despite some legacy benefits in transport and new facilities, the Olympics ultimately did little to address the crippling problems of poverty and corruption across the host nation in a year in which President Dilma Rousseff was impeached from her position.
The Games was also dominated by criticism of the IOC’s decision to allow Russia to participate despite evidence of state-sponsored doping at events including the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
Bach has faced huge personal criticism, particularly in his native Germany, for this decision.
But Britain’s Adam Pengilly was the only IOC member not to publicly support his stance on doping when a voting of confidence was conducted during August’s IOC Session in Rio de Janeiro.
Looking ahead, Bach admits that the “most immediate” challenge is the “shocking findings of the recent McLaren report on doping and manipulation in Russia that have caused damage to the credibility and integrity of sport.”
“Two IOC commissions have been set up to coordinate our response,” he added, before reiterating his call for a reform of the global anti-doping system.
“They will respect the due process and give all sides a fair chance to be heard.
“Following this, the IOC will take all appropriate measures and sanctions.
“The latest developments underscore the urgent need for a strengthened, centralized anti-doping system under the leadership of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that is independent of sports organisations and Governments alike.
“This is why the IOC will continue to call for a more efficient, more transparent and more robust anti-doping system, as unanimously supported by all stakeholders at the most recent Olympic Summit.”
Bach also hailed the arrival of the new Olympic Channel and the apparent progress in fulfilling his Agenda 2020 reform plan.
He claimed how, without Agenda 2020, there would be “no Candidates Cities at all for the Olympic Games 2024” before speaking broadly about reforms to future bid processes.
“On a more long-term perspective, we need to recognize that the current candidature process produces too many losers,” he said.
“Therefore, we need to study ways to reform the candidature process beyond 2024, to ensure that the best host city is selected for the Olympic Games while minimizing the losers.”
Bach also delivered a warning for sporting bodies to improve governance and eradicate corruption problems.
“With this global visibility comes responsibility for the world of sport,” he said.
“Because of the unifying power of sport, there are high hopes and even higher expectations for sports organisations from the general public – and rightly so.
“The role of sport in society is more relevant today than ever before.
“Consequently, sports organisations everywhere, need to justify the trust that people have placed in sport.”
He concluded: “The success of the Olympic Games Rio 2016 has shown us what it is possible when the world comes together in peace and solidarity as it did at the Olympic Games.
“So it is with this firmly in mind that we look towards 2017 with a renewed sense of purpose.”
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.