Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon,
We are happy to welcome here in Moscow the leaders of one of the most authoritative world organisations, the International Olympic Committee.
In the 20th century, the Olympic movement has become a powerful force that unites and cements the whole world, the whole of mankind. It has proved that it is capable of overcoming people’s mutual mistrust and hostilities. It has strengthened faith in the primacy of moral values and made respect for the opponent the main Olympic law. The main sporting contests on the planet have invariably been impressive and truly international feasts. They have riveted the attention of billions of people who admired the moments of triumph and pride in the successes of athletes. Those who have been lucky enough to be present at the Olympic Games will never forget it. On the threshold of the 21st century, we firmly believe that people on our planet should compete and win only in peaceful battles, in honest and uncompromising sporting duels. So one of our key tasks is to be loyal to the ideals and principles of the world Olympic movement and to carry on the splendid Olympic relay.
I take this opportunity to extend sincere thanks to Juan Antonio Samaranch, who has devoted two decades to the Olympic movement. I would like to thank all the members of that non-governmental organisation for the important positive work you are doing for the benefit of the peoples of the whole world. Today the International Olympic Committee is not simply one of the oldest international organisations, it is one of the most influential structures in the world community, the community which has long included sports among its key priorities. I firmly believe that in the new era your noble and responsible work will contribute to the progress of the Olympic movement, serve the cause of peace and mutual understanding, friendly relations and cooperation among all the peoples on the planet.