Olympics 'build bridges, not walls'

2022-01-28 10:28:07China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
Special: 2022 Winter Olympics

IOC vice-president says politicization of Games detrimental to athletes only

Attempts to politicize the Olympics will come to no avail but instead will adversely affect thousands of athletes who have dedicated themselves to the Games, vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Ng Ser Miang said Tuesday.

"We believe that the Games build bridges, not walls," Ng said in an interview with Xinhua in Singapore before departing for Beijing to attend the Winter Olympic Games, which open on Feb 4.

The Games provide opportunities for the whole world to come together, regardless of race, gender, religion or age, he added.

"It's a really amazing platform to have constructive engagement rather than to have boycotts," he said.

Previous boycotts of the Olympics achieved no political objectives, except for affecting thousands of athletes who have spent years or even their entire lives preparing for the Games, only to see their Olympic dreams dashed because of politics, Ng said.

"We do not believe in politicizing the Olympic Games, and we welcome statements that position the Games and athletes away from politics," said Ng, who is in his second term as the IOC's vice-president.

He said he was happy that the United Nations General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution that calls for UN members to observe a truce during the Beijing Olympic Games.

Ng described the resolution as "an amazing achievement".

Indeed, Ng said that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the world needs the Olympics more than ever, because the Games allow the world's best athletes to come together at a time when global travel has been curtailed.

"It's a show that allows the world to really come together to achieve something that even the pandemic cannot stop. This is very significant," he said.

"I think this could be the light at the end of the tunnel, where hopefully after the Games, we learn better how to organize big events even with the pandemic, and hopefully the world can go back to normal as soon as we can."

Ng recalled that the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics were a huge success and a very exciting experience for the participants, from the spectacular opening ceremony to the meticulous planning and organization that made for a seamless and fantastic spectacle.

"The 2022 Winter Games in Beijing are really built on the foundation and legacy of the 2008 Summer Games," he said.

The pandemic has posed challenges to the world, affecting people's lives as well as sports events over the last few years. Despite the very challenging circumstances, Beijing has invested in tremendous resources over the last seven years to prepare for the Winter Games, he said.

"So we really want to thank our friends in Beijing for their really great efforts in making sure that the Games are on schedule, and they are going to be fantastic," Ng added.

"I believe that the Games will be really amazing, with the human spirit overcoming these big challenges of the pandemic-the indomitable human spirit against all adversity, so to speak. And I want to wish Beijing 2022 the very best of luck."

Beijing is about to create history by becoming the first city in the world to host both the summer and winter editions of the Games.

"I give my congratulations to Beijing for this very unique achievement," said Ng.

Although there is no Singaporean athlete taking part in the Beijing Winter Games, Ng said he was happy that his country is one of four hubs for Beijing 2022.

Starting from Jan 23, Singapore Airlines has been operating daily commercial inbound and outbound flights for the Games, facilitating participants from Singapore and neighboring countries and regions to travel to Beijing.

Ng, meanwhile, said China's feat in meeting its target of involving 300 million Chinese people in winter sports is admirable.

"With such enthusiasm and impetus for the Winter Games, China will become a strong winter sports country in terms of taking part in major competitions and in future Winter Olympic Games as well," he said.


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