International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach speaks during a press conference. GETTY IMAGES

Next year’s Paris 2024 Games will serve to “unite in peaceful competition” a world in which “people are exhausted and tired of the antagonism, hostility and hatred they encounter in all areas of their lives”, says Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

In an end-of-year message from the IOC, the German leader ventures that the Paris Games will inaugurate “a new Olympic era: younger, more inclusive, more urban, more sustainable”, recalling that they will be the first “with full gender parity”.

“Our expectations of these Olympic Games are shared by billions of people. In these difficult times we live in, people all over the world are exhausted and tired of the antagonism, hostility and hatred they face in all areas of their lives,” says Bach.

“Deep in our hearts we all long for something that unites us. Something that unites us despite our differences. Something to give us hope. Something that inspires us to solve problems peacefully” he stated.

“Something that brings out the best in us. We long for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games to unite the whole world in peaceful competition,” he adds.

The IOC decided two weeks ago to allow Russian and Belarusian athletes, who can still qualify, to take part in the Games, provided they have not supported the war in Ukraine, albeit without their national symbols and as individual neutral athletes. Teams from these countries will not be allowed to compete.

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In his message, Thomas Bach calls on the Olympic Movement to “remain united” and to “resist the efforts to divide world sport along political lines”.

“Beyond the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, we stand united in our mission to make the world a better place through sport,” he said.

Bach is convinced that artificial intelligence (AI) and e-sports offer “enormous opportunities” for the Olympic movement. “That’s why,” he says, “the IOC eSports Commission is looking into the creation of an eSports Olympic Games.”

“Whatever form the eSports Olympic Games takes, our parameters and conditions are set. We will remain true to our values: the Olympic values of peace, respect, non-discrimination and solidarity,” he stresses.

He also pledges to “harness the transformative power of AI to support athletes and help develop sport”.

“Identifying talent, creating individualised training methods, making refereeing more objective and personalising the individual viewing experience of billions of Olympic fans – the opportunities are limitless and the risks must be mitigated,” he says.

Bach concludes his message by recalling that Paris is the birthplace of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the IOC and the restorer of the Games. It is also “the city of light, the city of love and the city of a new era for the Olympic Games”.

By Gustavo Muñana 

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