IOC heaps praise on SA
Cape Town - The president of the International Olympic Committee, Dr Jacques Rogge, heaped praise on South Africa when he said that the country "has joined the top league of games organisers in the world".
Dr Rogge was speaking at the opening ceremony of the 7th World Conference, Sport, Education and Culture in Durban on Sunday night.
The conference continues on Monday and Tuesday.
Dr Rogge also spoke of the "special bond that exists between the IOC and South African sport". Visibly impressed by the country’s success in staging the 2010 FIFA World Cup - ‘I have to congratulate South Africa on the way they hosted the World Cup’ – Rogge’s compliments went down well with the room of international delegates.
Speakers at a vibrant and colourful opening ceremony also included South Africa’s minister of sport, Fikile Mbalula, the Mayor of the City of Durban, Obed Mlaba, the chairperson of the IOC Commission for Culture and Olympic Education, Lambis Nikolaou, the Unesco deputy director general, Getachew Engida, IOC executive board member Dr Sam Ramsamy, and the SASCOC president, Gideon Sam.
In opening the conference at the International Convention Centre in the heart of Durban, Sam spoke with passion and conviction.
"The 2010 FIFA World Cup gave some insight to those outside of our country what commitment we have here, what a unique country we have and what is possible when everyone shares the same dream. Young people love to dream and they deserve to dream. It is our responsibility to help them achieve their dreams and I believe that the 7th World Conference, Sport, Education and Culture will go some way to laying the platform,’ he said.’
‘Sport is about more than the results on the scoreboard. Of course, there has to be a winner and a loser but by competing at the highest possible level is winning in itself. It’s important to instill the core Olympic values of excellence, friendship and mutual respect.
‘This conference is about giving youth a chance. We saw in August what a powerful message the inaugural Youth Olympics created. The young athletes involved were not household names but they were being given the platform to aspire, dream and achieve.
‘South Africa’s best example was the swimmer, Chad le Clos. He won five medals in Singapore and then two months later went to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, and won four medals. We have big expectations of him at the London 2012 Olympics and beyond, but the Singapore Youth Olympics was his launchpad,’ Sam added.
Among those athletes speaking in different forums at the 7th World Conference, Sport, Education and Culture, will be Paralympic legend Natalie du Toit and Zimbabwe’s decorated Olympic medallist, Kirsty Coventry.