On the occasion of the opening of the Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016, I gave some reflections on the Olympic movement in my speech at the reception hosted by the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports. Here is the entire text.
Speech at reception during the Youth Olympic Games, Lillehammer 2016:
Your Royal Highnesses
Presidents and Members of the International and Norwegian Olympic Committees,
Ladies and gentlemen,
For Pierre de Coubertin, the Olympic movement was a movement for peace and fellowship. For 120 years, all cultures have united in the spirit of the Olympic symbols.
In these times of both forced and voluntary migration, we need to think profoundly about how meetings between different cultures can enrich us all.
The greatest challenge facing humankind today is to build platforms for constructive meetings between cultures. Culture is created where cultures meet and unite.
The secret behind the tremendous support for the Olympic Games from all states, peoples and cultures lies in its unique combination of ancient and modern history and traditions. It unites people on the basis of universal and democratic principles – participation, respect and trust.
Yet just as democracy can never be taken for granted, neither can the Olympic movement take peoples’ confidence for granted. There is no room for complacency.
This is why the Olympic agenda 2020 is such an important reform. Just like this speech, the agenda is full of big words that are easy to support. But it is our job, your job, to invest meaning in these Words and create results that people can embrace.
The Youth Olympic Games is one important answer to the challenges facing the Olympic movement. These Games embody the Olympic spirit. Through learning, cultural understanding, participation and the voluntary tradition, the Games create role models for tomorrow – not only for sport, but for society as a whole.
This is precisely why a united Norwegian Parliament supported Lillehammer 2016.
It is also why we were thrilled to host and guard the Olympic flame in the Parliament building upon its arrival in Norway.
Coubertin’s Olympic symbols still send out a powerful message – a message of peace, companionship, tolerance and respect. The Youth Olympic Games provide a stage at which these values are brought alive. We need such meeting places to address the greatest challenge, but also the greatest opportunity, of Our time – to create growth where culture meets.
I would like to wish you the very best of luck with the Youth Olympic Games. Go beyond – create tomorrow!