What inspired your contribution to the Virtual Congress? The chance to be listened to by the International Olympic Committee. Since I am not a member of any national sports federation or of the Argentine Olympic Committee, it was a unique opportunity to express my ideas and ideals as well as my feelings towards the Olympic Movement, which I live passionately. How best do you think the Olympic Movement can connect with the general public and sports fans? In my opinion, the key for the Olympic Movement to connect better with the general public and the sports fans around the world is through a strong action carried out by the National Olympic Committees ( NOCs) LUIS ABBIATI ARGENTINA, STUDENT 34OLYMPIC REVIEW OLYMPIC CONGRESS broad range of narratives about the complexity of the sporting experience - that is, stories of triumph, tribulations, heroism, success, defeat, joy, pain, anguish, and misery. Moreover, no other event can emulate the same degree of awe, expectation, excitement, ( and hype) captivated by the spectacle of the Olympic Games Opening and Closing Ceremonies. What sports do you participate in and/ or enjoy watching? I have participated in running, field hockey, lawn bowls, squash, volleyball, water polo and ten- pin bowling. During the Olympic Games, I particularly enjoy white- water kayak/ canoe events, field athletic events, diving, gymnastics and swimming. During the Winter Olympic Games, I enjoy the luge and bobsleigh events, slalom, and speed skating. What is your favourite Olympic memory? Recently I watched, as many others did too, Michael Phelps' epic gold medal swims. At the Beijing Games too, I also clearly remember the feats of Benjamin Boukpeti, who earned a bronze medal for Togo in the men's kayak slalom - Togo's first Olympic medal. My earliest memories, however, are as a nine- year- old, watching the picturesque shots of Barcelona's La Sagrada Familia cathedral prior to the opening ceremony of the 1992 Olympic Games, and then in 1996 being mesmerised by fellow young New Zealand swimmer Danyon Loader as he won gold in the 200m and 400m freestyle at the Games in Atlanta. GEOFF KOHE NEW ZEALAND, PHD STUDENT AND TEACHING ASSISTANT, UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO What inspired your contribution to the Virtual Congress? I have learnt about different aspects of the Olympic Movement but the particular area I have found of interest has been Olympic education. The continued popularity of the Games in classrooms around the world, Western- led educational reforms, advances in media and internet- based curriculum development and delivery, and my own country's lead in designing Olympic education resources led me to critique some of the assumptions made in Olympic education about values based education. How best do you think the Olympic Movement can connect with the general public and sports fans? I believe strongly that the IOC should remain committed to making the Games ' experience', albeit highly mediated, available to as great a number of people as possible. It would be a mistake not to explore new forms of communication and connection. There is enormous potential with technologies such as Bluetooth and iphones, and social networking spaces such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace, ( which are already being used by some members of the Olympic family). What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing the Olympic Movement? The Olympic Movement will need to address more closely the issue of largesse. With the increasing size of the Games come increased pressures on bid and host cities and their citizens to meet the IOC's high standards. The continued social, cultural, and economic ' cost' of the Games, before, during, and long after the athletes have left town remains a particularly topical issue. Unfortunately, many cities in parts of the world where the Olympic Movement could potentially flourish miss out because they are unable to satisfy the necessary requirements. The Olympic Movement might be able to become more relevant to a greater number of people, communities, and cultures if it relaxed some of the stringent criteria it demands from potential host city candidates. In your opinion what sets the Olympic Games apart from other sporting events? No other sport event comes close in bringing together as diverse a group of athletes to compete in as many different sports and sporting events. The Olympic Games also offers us, as spectators, an invariably
OLYMPIC REVIEW35 OLYMPIC CONGRESS What inspired your contribution to the Virtual Congress? I wanted to participate in this lively discussion with people across the world and hoped that my voice, however little, would make a contribution in the evolution and development of the Olympic Games. Also, Youth and Obesity, the topic I picked, is a very pertinent and real issue in our daily lives so I hoped to bring attention to that to raise awareness about it. How best do you think the Olympic Movement can connect with the general public and sports fans? Besides giving them access through media broadcasts and tickets, the general public and sports fans should be included in the preparation and execution of the Olympic Games. What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing the Olympic Movement? Some of the bigger challenges facing the Olympic Movement currently include doping which mars the integrity of the Games, as well as the involvement of politics, something that has featured in almost all the Games throughout the years manifesting itself in many different ways - boycotts, protests, etc. In your opinion what sets the Olympic Games apart from other sporting events? Apart from the large scale and standard of excellence of the Olympic Games, I think its long and rich history that has lived on till today that makes it more than ' just another sporting event'. Furthermore, it also promotes values such as friendship and respect, alongside sporting excellence as its core values. Another unique aspect of the Olympic Games is its cultural programme that takes place alongside the main sporting programme. Athletes are given the chance to enjoy music and dance performances, and exhibitions to get to know the history and culture of the host country better. Last but not least, through the Paralympics, it also includes athletes with disabilities and gives them opportunities to achieve sporting excellence at the highest platform as well. What sports do you participate in and/ or enjoy watching? I fence the epée and sometimes I jog, swim, play badminton or other ball games for leisure. I enjoy watching gymnastics and diving because I love how the gymnasts and divers hold themselves with such elegance, grace, poise and absolute control. Other favourite events of mine include table- tennis, tennis, volleyball and swimming. What is your favourite Olympic memory? One of my favourite Olympic memories was that of Michael Phelps' events. During the Beijing Games, there were two televisions in my school canteen broadcasting his event ' live' during our recess. Hundreds of girls were drawn to these two televisions and watched with bated breath. Never mind that we weren't Americans, never mind that not all of us were athletes. As one, we were all supporting one man's quest to conquer the pinnacle of sporting excellence in swimming. I know that right then, there must be people all around the world doing the same, and it then hit me how the Olympic movement brings people together. JINGYIN ZENG SINGAPORE, STUDENT AT RAFFLES INSTITUTION ( JUNIOR COLLEGE) targeted to spreading the principles, values and initiatives of the Movement itself. What do you think are the biggest challenges currently facing the Olympic Movement? The value crisis modern society experiences due to the consumer, utilitarian and hedonistic culture has generated a philosophy of life whose materialism conspires against the great ideals of the Olympic Movement. The second threat is the aim of economic power to control sports, trying to turn it into a means to serve the petty goals of that power. It is true that nowadays sports activities in general need economic support, which in itself is not questionable. What is questionable is trying to put sports at the service of money. Doping is a consequence of the interaction of the above two causes. In your opinion what sets the Olympic Games apart from other sporting events? The message of universal fraternity they convey by allowing athletes to live together for over two weeks sharing as equals in spite of their different cultural backgrounds, and who become adversaries only for a few hours, minutes or seconds: brief moments compared to the possibility of making lifetime friends. What sports do you participate in and watch? At present, due to my academic commitments, I can only enjoy recreational swimming. I also enjoy watching basketball and volleyball competitions. What is your favourite Olympic memory? The troubled participation of the British athlete Derek Redmond in the 400 metres semi- final of the Barcelona Olympic Games. He pulled his hamstring and collapsed on the track but then he made an effort to stand and started to run again, clearly in pain. His father helped him by supporting him with his presence up to the finish line. This meant being officially disqualified, but his attitude meant, above all, an impressive sign of willpower to continue participating, which was all the more valuable as it was impossible for him to win. That was for me, on the one hand, a show of passion, and on the other, a show of the unconditional love of a father. " MY FAVOURITE OLYMPIC MEMORY WAS OF MICHAEL PHELPS' EVENTS. DURING THE BEIJING GAMES, THERE WERE TWO TELEVISIONS IN MY SCHOOL CANTEEN BROAD-CASTING HIS EVENT ' LIVE' DURING OUR RECESS. HUNDREDS OF GIRLS WERE DRAWN TO THESE TWO TELEVISIONS AND WATCHED WITH BATED BREATH. NEVER MIND THAT WE WEREN'T AMERICANS, NEVER MIND THAT NOT ALL OF US WERE ATHLETES"