Thomas Bach spoke at the 139th IOC session held in the Chinese capital, the session started with Chinese leader Xi Jingping making an opening statement and he praised the IOC’s role in governing global solidarity and cooperation.
There has been concerns in the build up to the games, which will be held in China, COVID-19 and China’s human rights have been the main talking points ahead of the tournament. Many countries have not sent government officials to the games due to a diplomatic boycott of the event. However, the athletes from these nations will still be competing in the games.
Bach said “You may remember that at our IOC Sessions in January and July 2020, we could already see the dark clouds of the growing politicisation of sport on the horizon,” Bach, who was denied the opportunity to compete at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow after West Germany boycotted them in protest at the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan, told the Session.
“We also saw that in some peoples’ minds, the boycott ghosts of the past were rearing their ugly heads again.
“This is why we have been working even harder to get the unifying mission of the Olympic Games across to as many leaders and decision-makers as possible: the United Nations, the G20 leaders, intergovernmental organisations and national governments, individual politicians and many, many more.
“In all these conversations we stressed that the Olympic Games can only accomplish this unifying mission, that we can only get all humanity together in all our diversity, if the Games stand beyond all differences and political disputes.
“We appealed to them to respect this and thereby to support this precious mission of the Olympic Games.
“Today we can be happy and proud that apparently this message got through.
“All the athletes, who have been overcoming great uncertainties for so long, can make their dream come true and compete at the Beijing 2022.”
Bach highlighted the 193 United Nations (UN) member states passing the Olympic Truce Resolution, followed by a solemn appeal of Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN General Assembly.
António Guterres, UN secretary general, also gave a message of support during the IOC Session.
Bach claimed the Winter Olympics could serve as a “symbol of peace and unity”.
“We know that sport alone cannot create peace,” said Bach.
“We cannot take decisions on war and peace – this is the exclusive remit of politics.
“But when it comes to peace, also words and symbols are important.
“Because these symbols show us how the world can look like, if we all respect the same rules and each other.
“The Olympic Games are this symbol of peace and unity, showing us the way to a better and more peaceful future.”