Thank you Mr. President [Thomas Bach], I want to express our deep gratitude and appreciation for this kind invitation to be here in PyeongChang at the Winter Olympics. We do it with enormous pleasure and enormous honor
I want to express my enormous admiration for the way these games have been organized, the exceptional work of the International Olympic Committee and also of the Republic of Korea. Everything was done to make this event an extremely important event from the sports point of view but also from the very important message of peace which the games always convey.
I said indeed yesterday that the Olympic spirit is the most important symbol of peace in today’s world. A world in which, unfortunately, we see some many conflicts and so many victims dramatically impacted by those conflicts. The Olympic spirit allows people to be together, from all over the world, to respect each other, to assert the values of tolerance, of mutual understanding that are the basic elements for peace to be possible.
Obviously, in the present context, there is a lot of attention for this message of peace in relation to the Korean Peninsula, but I want to say very clearly that the Olympic message of peace is not local. It is universal. It’s for the world. It is valued in Korea as it is valued everywhere where we struggle to try to address the many complex conflicts that we are facing.
I am also very grateful for the exemplary cooperation between the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations. As you said Mr. President, your support in the protection of refugees, in combatting drug trafficking, in promoting gender equality, in the support of people with disabilities through your sister organization the International Paralympic Committee, but also in all other areas in which we are working together your support has been precious. We are extremely grateful.
As a matter of fact, we feel such a [unity] of points of view that I have decided that the UN does not need to have any other voice in relation to sports but the voice of the International Olympic Committee. The International Olympic Committee represents by its values the same values that created the United Nations.
So once again, Mr. President, I wish you the best success for the games that start tonight.