A personal message from WOA President Joël Bouzou OLY
23 | 7 | 2021
My fellow Olympians,
The Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games today marks the start of what is the pinnacle of world sport. The Olympic Games puts sport front and centre and is the largest global display of unity, friendship and solidarity.
Over the next three weeks, we will come together to celebrate the finest sports people on the planet achieving their dreams and inspiring millions of men and women, boys and girls to watch or take up sport.
The core values of the Olympic movement and the benefits of sport are as needed and as relevant today as they were more than 125 years ago when Pierre de Coubertin set out his vision for the Olympic Games. In many ways the challenges now are even greater than they were then as we grapple with climate change, the obesity crisis, the displacement of peoples and other serious issues. And, of course, we are still living through the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which has changed many things in our lives. Our thoughts and best wishes are with all who have lost friends and loved ones and who continue to be faced with new obstacles. One thing the pandemic has not changed however is Olympians using their position as role-models to support and lead their communities. My admiration goes out to all of you who have given so much to help out during this difficult time.
We are a community bound together by our experiences at the Olympic Games, our determination to bring the Olympic values to life in our communities and our desire to support each other in good times and bad. Traditionally we join together at each edition of the Olympic Games through OLY House and the many activities we run there. Sadly, because of the Covid restrictions, we are unable to have an in-person OLY House in Tokyo. But that hasn’t stopped us. We will once again be hosting our award-winning OLY House programme during Tokyo 2020 - providing Olympians of all ages, nations and sports with an exclusive destination to call their own during Games-time. While we cannot come together in person, we have launched our first-ever online OLY House to provide a safe, free and accessible digital space to unite the Olympian community and connect with old and new friends.
OLY House Tokyo 2020 will be hosting a wide range of activities over the next few weeks, including our new Leave your Mark initiative which aims to both celebrate the unique bond we share and to thank all involved in making the Tokyo Olympic Games a success. Leave your Mark allows you and your fellow Olympians across the world to add your autographs to a virtual map featuring your location, sport, Games competed in and more. The collected entries will be used to create an exclusive downloadable souvenir poster as a permanent memory for your contribution to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
We will also be hosting a live ceremony to induct five new Olympians into Olympians for Life, honouring their Games success and how they have drawn on their Olympic experiences to make the world a better place following retirement from elite sport. On International Day of Friendship (30 July) we will be celebrating the story of two inspirational Olympians who competed against each other in the 1960 Rome Olympic Games and then reconnected over 50 years later. Olympians from the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games will be reunited during a live online event to share their experiences and discuss how the Olympic world has changed since then. We are supporting the Olympians Association of Japan to host events for local Japanese Olympians and will be offering a series of Japanese cultural experiences via the Airbnb Experience+ Programme. Finally, NOAs in all corners of the world will receive funding to organise their first ever OLY Day to celebrate the Olympians returning from Tokyo 2020. New and existing Olympians will be presented with their OLY pins and certificates and will have the opportunity to thank the public for all their support during Games-time.
I am truly honoured and humbled to lead World Olympians Association. Wherever you are and whatever the challenges faced I hope the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and OLY House will bring you joy, happiness and the opportunity to connect or reconnect with your fellow Olympians. I’m really looking forward to hearing from you and meeting with you online soon.
Best Olympian regards,
Joël Bouzou OLY
World Olympians Association