IPF Cat I Referee
Member, IPF Tech.Comm.
119 IOC Session
Guatemala City, Guatemala
At the conclusion of 5th NAPF North American Regional Championships in Guatemala City, Guatemala, I was invited by the Guatemala Olympic Committee and the Guatemala Powerlifting Federation to remain another couple of additional days to attend the 119th International Olympic Committee [IOC] Session.
The IOC [Session] is the annual general meeting, with each National Olympic Committee [NOC] having one vote. In short, it is the IOC's supreme governing body, and decisions taken at each of these Sessions are often times historical and monumental in nature.
My credentials, issued by the Guatemala Olympic Committee, allowed me to attend all of the events/meetings, to include the opening ceremony in the Guatemala National Theatre held on July 03, 2007.
During the opening ceremony, which I attended with the officials from the Guatemala Powerlifting Federation, Dr. Jacque Rogge, the president of the IOC, in his speech, emphasized the importance of Olympic values and why they matter, and how they drive, overall, the Olympic Movement. His speech also focused on IOC programs and initiatives that aim to bring a shared dream of a better world, by using sport as a mechanism for creating peace and stability.
At the conclusion of the opening ceremony, I had the honor of meeting and speaking with Mr. Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia (see photo below), and Mr. Roh Moo-hyun, the President of South Korea, as well as the dignitaries from scores of NOCs from around the globe. Most importantly, I had the privilege of meeting both the current and past president of the IOC, Dr. Jacque Rogge and Juan Antonio Samarach. During my brief conversation with Dr. Rogge, I conveyed [our] support for his peace initiatives.
The main decision that was taken at this Session, by the IOC members, was the selection of the host city for the XXII Olympic Winter Games in 2014. As an international competition director, I was very interested in seeing how this particular process unfolded. So, I attended the bid presentations by Austria, Russia and South Korea, as well as their respective press conferences immediately afterward. At the completion of the presentations, which I found quite good, I attended the awarding of the bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics, by the chief administrators of the IOC. After the awarding of the bid, won by Russia, I attended the after party celebration that emptied out of the hotel, into the streets of Zona Viva -- the trendy tourist section of Guatemala City.
After having experienced the preceding events, one thing that I found most striking, is the actual celebration of the bid process, by not only the officials of the IOC, but the country/city officials that both win and lose the bid. The excitement for the coming 2014 Winter Games was generated from the award of the bid, and will now carry all the way through to the conclusion of the event. I believe the IPF can learn from this process. As, a recommendation, if we desire to (re)build our fan base, and [expand] the popularity of our sport internationally, as an organization, we must encourage a process that actually celebrates our bids.
Also discussed at the Session were several other very interesting topics that fall in line with my PhD studies. Those being the [Youth] Olympic Games, the promotion of women in sport, AIDS prevention and environmental programs, as well as a newly unveiled program titled "Sport for Hope", whereby member federations donate clothing to countries suffering from conflict and other humanitarian crisis.
From my perspective, based on Dr. Rogge's agenda, the IOC has now moved from an organization once solely promoting sports, to an organization that promotes international peace through sport, so as to assist and empower those that are less fortunate. In my opinion, to say the least, this is a favorable and worthwhile agenda to pursue.
To close, when I finally departed Guatemala, I left with an experience that I will carry with me for some time to come. I was VERY honored to be a representative of USA Powerlifting and the International Powerlifting Federation at this event, and hope to have the opportunity to take part again in the future.
General Secretary, North American Powerlifting Federation
Robert Keller with Russian President Vladimir Putin