I know that I’m speaking on behalf of all of my colleagues who have presented over the past few days when I say that I consider it both an honor and a privilege to have been asked to come here to the birthplace of the Olympics to participate in this conference. There are very few places in the world where the conference topic spans some 3,000 years of human existence as was both the venue and lecture topics we have all enjoyed over the past few days.
Following the opening remarks of President Kouvelos which set the agenda for the conference, Dr. Retsas discussed medicine in the ancient Olympic Games. As one considers events in the ancient Games such as the Pankration, it is little wonder that medical invention was often needed. The next day as we toured the Sanctuary, I thought of Dr. Retsas’ presentation wondering about how almost 50,000 people on that site in the height of summer got by with the medical services available at the time.
From the ancient to the modern, there were presentations on the Information Age and digital revolution. The presentations given by Professor Horn and myself complimented each other well. I provided an overview of the information evolution wrought by the advent of the internet and described some of the pros and cons of Web 2.0 technology. With this overview as a backdrop, Professor Horn did an admirable job in describing some of the societal effects of the digital age, especially in the younger generation. Whatever your personal attitude toward technology, it is important to recognize that the society-wide changes being brought about by the digital revolution are here to stay and we all need master the skills of using these tools.
Speaking of Games, the presentation by IOC Vice President Ng who served as the Chairman of the Singapore Organizing Committee of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games was superb. An outstanding multi-media presentation on the Games set the stage for earnest questioning from the delegates on the event and raised our expectation for the Games yet to come.
A common theme throughout the program was the primacy of education as a means for the dissemination of the Olympic ideals and values. Dr. Najeeb described how he was able to get the National Institute of Technology-Calicut to include a course on Olympic Values as a requirement in that institution’s curriculum. Given that the world-class bureaucracy that is India, to do so is a testament to perseverance and determination. Dr. Blondel also presented a similar success story on getting the OVEP into France’s national educational curriculum and their strategies to insure it is actually carried out. Last, and certainly not least, Ms. Talbot, President of the International Council of Sport Science and Physical Education did an outstanding presentation on the role of Olympic education in today’s world of sports which closed out the presentations of the 11th NOA Session.
Speaking on behalf of the lecturers, I’m sure that we too have all been enriched by our participation in the program. I, for one, feel I’m taking away from the program far more than I contributed. Watching the presentations of the NOAs over the past few days was for me both inspiring and educational. I was continually impressed with the untiring efforts being put forth by the NOAs to spread the message and ideals of the Olympic movement and the philosophy of Olympism across the globe. I also found the creativity of the NOAs in the undertaking of these tasks to be a marvelous learning experience given the wide divergence of resources available and the difference in cultures where this work is being done.
But more than that was the exchange between colleagues that took place outside of the auditorium. This gathering afforded us the opportunity to make new acquaintances from different corners of the globe and much of our discussion over a meal or a beverage went far beyond “shop talk” into topics that provided insights into who and what we are. This person-to-person exchange is every bit as important as the formal exchange in the lecture hall in making the Olympic values a reality.
I would like to take a moment to thank the administration and staff of the IOA for all their efforts to make this program a success. From the very beginning with the invitation to speak, the secretariat responded in a timely, helpful and professional way to requests for information or other administrative details. The technology staff has done a marvelous job on making sure that all of the presentations received the support they needed. Having observed Mr. Voggelis race up and down the stairs as a regular occurrence, I think he is faster than some Olympic sprinters and has about worn out the carpet. And last, but certainly not least, is the work of the translators, those unseen voices over the earphones without whose intervention the conference would have been greatly diminished. I believe that they all deserve a round of applause.
I hope that all of the participants are leaving here energized with new ideas to make your programs more vital and how to reach more of your constituents. Good Luck in your endeavors and thank you.