Thomas Bach also stresses commitment to promoting equality through sport and staging Games open to all Brazilians
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach highlighted the legacy that will be left by the Rio 2016 Games during a discussion with university students in the city on Wednesday (25 February). During an event that lasted nearly two hours at the Rio 2016 Organising Committee headquarters, Bach also stressed that the Games would be open to all Brazilians and reaffirmed the IOC’s commitment to promoting equality.
“We do not want to leave on the Monday after the Games and say ‘bye-bye, it was a nice party’. We want to go home knowing that the Games have given a lot to Brazil and will continue to give a lot. This is what we are working for,” Bach told about 120 students who had been invited to the participate in the event.
The students asked questions on a wide range of topics, such as what kind of educational, sporting and economic legacies the Olympic Games could leave, as well as raising their concerns about discrimination and the environment, and how the Olympic Movement could help in these areas.
Bach said that the Games were a “once in a lifetime opportunity” for Brazil to show its best to the world, stressing its diversity, joyful spirit and ability to deliver with quality. He said Brazil’s inclusive society matched the IOC’s philosophy. “It’s in our DNA to be against racism,” he said. “We are against all types of discrimination. We have to not only respect diversity, we have to embrace diversity.”
The Rio 2016 ticketing programme has been designed to ensure that all sections of Brazilian society can attend the Games. More than half of the 7.5 million tickets will be priced at 70 Brazilian reals (US$30) or below, with cheapest entry at 40 Brazilian reals. Bach said: “They will be inclusive Games, in which all Brazilians will be able to participate.”
Tourism student Ana Cláudia Marinho, 24, felt the event had opened her eyes. “The debate was very positive,” she said. “I didn’t imagine before that students would get this chance. It was a very frank and relaxed conversation. We managed to see another side of the Games and have become more open to seeing the positive aspects.”
Bach took time out to joke about his country’s success at last year’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil. “Being a German, since last year’s World Cup final, I like the city even more,” he said.
He finished by thanking all the students. “Thanks for all your questions, from which I learned a lot, and this was really the purpose of today – not only me telling you how we see the world, but us learning about your concerns.”
Bach is in Brazil for the IOC Executive Board meeting, which will take place in Rio on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (February 26-28).