Traditional Welcome For New IOC President
IOC President Thomas Bach has been welcomed to New Zealand this morning with a traditional powhiri (welcome ceremony) before he embarks on his two day visit, meeting with Olympic athletes, sports and decision-makers.
Accepting the wero (challenge) placed by local iwi (tribe) Ngati Whatua at Auckland’s Olympic House, President Bach also took part in singing Pokarekare ana in response to the waiata (song) sung in welcome by Ngati Whatua and members of the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
IOC Members Barry Maister (hockey) and Barbara Kendall (boardsailing) were on-hand to greet the President on his first visit to New Zealand.
President Bach, who also won a gold medal at the Montreal Olympic Games (fencing), was delighted with the traditional welcome which also included a kapa haka performance from the Auckland War Memorial Museum’s cultural group.
President Bach said it was a great honour to be welcomed formally to New Zealand and urged our sports and athletes to continue to engage with the Olympic Movement. “It was a touching, solemn ceremony and I thank you for this symbol of peace and friendship,” said President Bach. “Like the Olympic Movement, the welcome ceremony signifies peace, friendship and equality and it shows how New Zealanders embrace the same values we do of tolerance and understanding through sport.”
“You deserve to be proud of your sporting heritage, your acheivements and your passion for sport. Thank you for the contribution you make to the Olympic Movement.”
President Bach went on to formally open Olympic House, the home of the New Zealand Olympic Committee.
IOC President Bach will share his vision for the future of the Olympic Games with New Zealand sports and athletes next week as he arrives in Auckland for a two day visit.
Since being elected President of the IOC in September 2013, President Bach has been the driving force behind Agenda 2020, the strategic roadmap for the Olympic Movement.
Invited to New Zealand by the New Zealand Olympic Committee as part of its international advocacy programme, President Bach’s two day itinerary will see the leader of the IOC meet with Olympic athletes, sports and the heads of the New Zealand Olympic Committee, Sport NZ, HPSNZ as well as Minister for Sport and Health the Hon. Dr Jonathan Coleman.
Following meetings with Olympic representatives and government leaders, President Bach will address National Sporting Organisations and discuss Olympic Agenda 2020 with Olympic athletes including Mahe Drysdale, Sarah Walker, Sam Webster and Rebecca Scown at an athlete forum.
President Bach will also have an opportunity to gain insight into New Zealand’s strong sporting system through a visit to an Olympic School and two of the nation’s high performance centres, the High Performance Rowing Centre and Avantidrome, both in Cambridge.
CEO and Secretary General Kereyn Smith said that among the priorities for discussion with the IOC President would be possible changes to the Olympic programme, the future of the Youth Olympic Games, progress in Rio 2016 and strategies to ensure the ongoing relevance of the Olympic Games to young New Zealanders.