The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today announced in Madrid a joint proposal placing sport at the heart of the European Union (EU)'s new constitution and at the same time identified priorities for the rebuilding of an NOC in Iraq.
The proposed text for an article on sport, that results from an extensive consultation between the IOC, the European Olympic Committees (EOC), the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF), the Association of the International Olympic Winter Sports Federations (AIOWF), and football bodies FIFA and UEFA, focuses on the need to protect the social, educational and cultural role that sport plays in European society. The proposed text will be submitted by the IOC on behalf of all International Federations and National Olympic Committees to the Convention for the Future of Europe, the forum in charge of drafting a new EU constitution. The project for a new EU constitution will be presented to the European Council of Thessanoliki on 20 and 21 June. A meeting between IOC President Jacques Rogge and Convention President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing is expected to be held in the near future.
The European institutions and the sports movement have shared for several years the wish to place sport at the centre of the European project. The proposed text approved this week shows the determination of all parties to underline the competence and autonomy of sports federations, while giving sport, and the strong values that it promotes, a key position in European discussions where it had until now essentially been considered from an economic angle. In the same vein, the EU has recently proclaimed 2004 "European Year of Education through Sport".
The IOC Executive Board, after taking knowledge of the report of the Ethics Commission, discussed today the situation regarding the Iraqi athletes and the NOC of Iraq. Two priorities have been identified, namely:
- The IOC is concerned about the athletes, their well-being and needs, and the steps required for their preparations for the upcoming Games of the XXVIII Olympiad in 2004 in Athens, Greece; and
- The NOC of Iraq must be reconstructed so as to comply with the Olympic Charter. The NOC of Iraq is suspended while this process takes place. The IOC strongly condemns all acts of abuse carried out or ordered by the former President of the NOC of Iraq against athletes. They constitute gross violations of the ethical principles and rules of the IOC. The IOC expresses its sympathy for all athlete victims of this abuse. No person involved in any abuse committed by the previous administration will be allowed to participate in the reconstruction of the NOC.
In order to achieve the goals of helping the athletes and aiding the reconstruction of the NOC, the IOC will work together with the United Nations and other competent authorities and, in addition, will send a mission to Iraq led by its Director of NOC Relations and Olympic Solidarity, Mr Pere Miro.