Bach calls for solidarity and says Tokyo 2020 can provide 'light at the end of the tunnel'

By Sports Desk July 23, 2021

Thomas Bach hammered home a message of solidarity and stated the Tokyo Olympics can bring a feeling of togetherness to provide "light at the end of the tunnel".

The IOC president was speaking at the culmination of an opening ceremony at Tokyo's Olympics stadium that mixed a wonderful display of Japanese culture with sombre reminders of the struggles the world has faced amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It was the global health crisis that led to the postponement of the Games a year ago and so very nearly curtailed the Olympics altogether.

Indeed, there has been a strong anti-Olympics stance among those in Japan and further afield, with many fearful that the arrival of throngs of media, officials and athletes from all over the world would lead to increased coronavirus infection numbers.

But, on a hot and humid night in the Japanese capital, Bach remained as defiant as ever that Tokyo 2020 will provide a moment of unity. 

"Today is a moment of hope, yes it is very different from all we imagined but let us cherish this moment, finally the athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Olympic Refugee team living together under the athletes village," Bach said.

"This is the unifying message of sport. This gives us all hope for our journey together, we can only be here together because of our gracious hosts the Japanese people to who we would like to show all our appreciation and respect.

"What is true for the perseverance of the Japanese people is also true for you my fellow Olympic athletes, you had to face great challenges on your Olympic journey. Like all of us you were living through great uncertainty through the pandemic, you did not know when you could train again, if you could see your coach tomorrow, if your team-mates would be with you for the next competition, you did not even know if this competition would take place at all. 

"You struggled, you persevered, you never gave up. And today you are making your Olympic dream come true, you are true Olympic athletes. 

"You inspired us, the IOC and entire Olympic community, you inspired us to fight like you and for you to make this moment possible, this is why I would like to offer my sincere thanks to all the Olympic communities, federations, and rights and broadcasting holders for standing together with us. 

"Billions of people around the globe will be glued to their screens, sending you their enthusiasm, their energy and cheering you on. 

"The lesson we learned is we need more solidarity, more solidarity among societies and more solidarity within societies. Solidarity means much more than just respect on non-discrimination. 

"It means helping, sharing, caring. This is what we do in our Olympic community, we are standing in solidarity to make the Olympic Games happen, and to enable all of you dear athletes, and from all sports to take part in the Olympic Games. 

"This solidarity fuels our ambitions to make the world a better place through sport. Only through solidarity can we be here tonight. Without solidarity there is no peace."

He added: "This Olympics experience makes all of us very humble. We feel we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We are part of an event that unites the world. United in all our diversity we become bigger than the sum of our parts. 

"We are always stronger together. This is why we are so grateful to you the athletes for expressing your commitment to these Olympic values of solidarity, inclusion and equality in your new Olympic oath. 

"We can go only go faster, we can only aim higher, we can only become stronger if we stand together in solidarity. 

"This is why the IOC has amended the Olympics motto to our times – faster, higher, stronger, together. 

"This feeling of togetherness this is the light at the end of the dark tunnel, the pandemic forced us apart, to keep our distance from each other, to stay away even from our loved ones. This separation made this tunnel so dark. But today, wherever in the world you may be we are united in sharing this moment together."

Hashimoto Seiko, president of the Tokyo organising committee paid tribute to the health and essential workers across the globe during her own address.

"Following the challenges of the first ever postponement in Olympic history, the Tokyo 2020 Games finally open here today," she said.

"Hopes have been connected one by one by many hands, and we are now in a position to welcome this day.

"The whole world has faced immense challenges with COVID-19. I would like to express my gratitude and respect to all essential workers including those in medical services and others around the world who have shown such determination in overcoming these challenges."

Related items

  • Salazar four-year ban upheld by CAS Salazar four-year ban upheld by CAS

    The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld the four-year ban imposed on athletics coach Alberto Salazar for anti-doping violations.

    Salazar, who coached four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah among many athletes, and Dr Jeffrey Brown were banned in 2019 by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

    American Salazar, former head of the now-closed Nike Oregon Project, launched an appeal against the decision.

    It was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday that the bans handed out to Salazar and Brown, who has worked as a physician and endocrinologist, would stand.

    A CAS statement said the pair had "committed a number of anti-doping rule violations".

    CAS ruled that Salazar was guilty of being in possession of testosterone, complicity in Brown's administration of a prohibited method and tampering with the doping control process.

    Following news of Salazar's ban two years ago, Nike shut the Oregon Project, its elite training group for distance athletes.

    British long-distance runner Farah has never failed a drugs test or been accused of doping and parted ways with Salazar in 2017.

    CAS said that aspects of USADA's handling of the cases against Salazar and Brown "seemed to be out of proportion and excessive when compared to the severity and consequences of the ADRVs [anti-doping rule violations] that have been established".

    In a media release, CAS added that it "emphasised that none of the ADRVs directly affected athletic competition, and that there was no evidence put before the CAS as to any effect on athletes competing at the elite level within the NOP [Nike Oregon Project]".

  • Rahm: Missing Toyko Olympics 'sucked' Rahm: Missing Toyko Olympics 'sucked'

    World number one Jon Rahm said it "sucked" to miss the Tokyo Olympic Games after testing positive for coronavirus.

    U.S. Open champion Rahm fancied his chances of winning gold, but he was unable to compete in Japan.

    The Spaniard, back in action at the Northern Trust this week, also had to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament in June when he held a six-shot lead following a positive COVID-19 test.

    He said ahead of his first start since The Open: "This [positive test before the Olympics] was a little harder to digest than Memorial, because I've done everything the system tells me to do."

    Rahm added: "I understand it's a weird case because I tested negative so quickly and tested negative and tested negative all throughout the UK, and I get here [the United States] and the test is positive.

    "It really is unfortunate. It sucked because I wanted to represent Spain. I wanted to play that one. I wanted to hopefully give Spain a medal.

    "I was wishing for a gold medal, but just being part of that medal count for the country would have been huge. It was more devastating in that sense. I was more in the mindset of playing for them more than me."

    Rahm will tee off on Thursday fifth in the FedExCup standings as he eyes a glorious end to a season in which he won a first major title.

  • ICC preparing bid for cricket's inclusion at 2028 Olympic Games ICC preparing bid for cricket's inclusion at 2028 Olympic Games

    The International Cricket Council (ICC) has confirmed its intention to push for cricket to be included in the 2028 Olympic Games.

    The sport has featured in just one edition of the global showpiece event – in 1900, when only Great Britain and tournament hosts France took part.

    But with cricket already on the programme for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the ICC is now targeting the Los Angeles Olympics in seven years' time.

    "Our sport is united behind this bid, and we see the Olympics as a part of cricket’s long-term future," ICC chair Greg Barclay said in a statement on Tuesday. 

    "We have more than a billion fans globally and almost 90 per cent of them want to see cricket at the Olympics. We believe cricket would be a great addition to the Olympic Games.

    "But we know it won't be easy to secure our inclusion as there are so many other great sports out there wanting to do the same.

    "We feel now is the time to put our best foot forward and show what a great partnership cricket and the Olympics are."

    Cricket's inclusion in 2028 would mark the end of a 128-year absence at the Olympics and has the full backing of the chair of USA Cricket Parag Marathe.

    "USA Cricket is thrilled to be able to support cricket's bid for inclusion in the Olympics," Marathe said.

    "The timing aligns perfectly with our continuing plans to develop the sport in the USA."

    Skateboarding, surfing and climbing all made their debuts at the Tokyo Games and will return in Paris in 2023, while breakdancing has also been included on the list of events. 

    If cricket were to secure a place for 2028, it would do so ahead of the 2032 Games that will be staged in Brisbane, with Australia a traditional stronghold for the sport.

    The 2022 Commonwealth Games represent a return to a major multi-sport event for cricket, with T20I matches to take place. A report by ESPNCricinfo in April suggested the shorter T10 format could be a preferred option for any Olympic proposal.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.