Thomas Bach: For 30 years, the NOC of Ukraine has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to keep the Olympic spirit alive in the hearts of the Ukrainian people
12 September 2021 Share
Thomas Bach: For 30 years, the NOC of Ukraine has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to keep the Olympic spirit alive in the hearts of the Ukrainian people

It is a great pleasure to be back in Kiev to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the National Olympic Committee of Ukraine with you all. It is an even greater privilege to receive the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise and I would like to express my deepest thanks and gratitude to President Volodymyr Zelensky for this tremendous honour.

Receiving this Order during the anniversary celebration of the NOC and in this impressive National Palace of Arts, gives this distinction even more significance to me, because blending the arts and culture with sport was a key objective of our founder Pierre de Coubertin when he revived the Olympic Games 127 years ago. Our celebration here today is therefore also a wonderful tribute to our founder and our Olympic values.

For 30 years, the NOC of Ukraine has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to keep the Olympic spirit alive in the hearts of the Ukrainian people, developing Olympic sport, and inspiring the young generation with the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and solidarity.  

While you can look back with great pride on the past 30 years of incredible sporting success, the Olympic history here in Ukraine goes back even further. In fact, it goes back to the time of Alexey Butovsky, who was one of the founding members of the International Olympic Committee. As a friend of Pierre de Coubertin, Butovsky was closely involved in the preparation of the 1894 Congress that revived the modern Olympic Games and that created the IOC. In this sense, everyone at the IOC, the NOC of Ukraine and the Olympic Movement owes a great deal to this common founding father of ours.

Butovsky’s successors are among us today – my dear friends and colleagues, the Olympic champions Sergey Bubka and Valeriy Borzov. With these sporting legends, Ukraine is one of the very few countries with currently two individual IOC Members. Sergey and Valeriy are truly worthy successors of Butovsky. They are synonymous for Ukrainian sporting success. Who can forget how Valeriy, the Rocket Man, stormed to Olympic glory at the Olympic Games Munich 1972. Or how Sergey shattered record after record, thereby setting the bar in pole vaulting so high, that his records stood for decades.

From Butovsky’s contribution to the founding of the Olympic Movement over a century ago, to the great success of your athletes at the recent Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: everyone in Ukraine can be proud of this rich sporting tradition.

Your athletes are at the heart of this remarkable success story. This is why today I would like to pay special tribute to the athletes who just came back from the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 with 19 medals, surpassing the result of Rio 2016. You are carrying this great success story into the future, and seeing so many of you here today, I know you have every reason to look to the future of Ukrainian sport with great confidence.  

Today, the strong partnership that the IOC is enjoying with Ukraine is only possible thanks to the important work done by the NOC. Under the great leadership of Sergey Bubka, you continue promote the role of sport in the country; inspiring the young generation; bringing the joy of sport to so many people with your wonderful initiatives such as the Olympic Lesson, the Olympic Stork, or Do like Olympians and many more – with all this you are spreading the Olympic values throughout Ukraine and making the world a better place through sport.    

Our partnership is another reflection of what we have seen during the global coronavirus pandemic: whether in sport, or in the many challenges in life, we are always stronger together.

This was the resounding message that the athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees and the IOC Refugee Olympic Team sent from the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 to the world. The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were the Olympic Games of hope, solidarity and peace. These were historic Olympic Games and it took an unprecedented effort from all of us to make them happen in a safe and secure manner. The NOC and the Ukrainian athletes played an essential part in writing history in Tokyo and this is something that you can all be extremely proud of.

For the first time since the pandemic began, the entire world came together. Sport returned to centre stage. Billions of people around the globe were united by emotion, sharing moments of joy and inspiration. This gave us hope. This gave us faith in the future.   

Today I am here to congratulate you but also to say thank you. Thank you for 30 years of friendship and sporting excellence. Thank you for being an important and reliable member of this Olympic community.

We all look forward to continuing this remarkable sporting journey together with you, for the next 30 years and beyond.