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30 December 2003, 08:00 am
End Of Year Message
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Jacques Rogge

International Olympic Committee
Lausanne

The year 2004 will mark the return of the Olympic Games to the land of their birth, Greece, the cradle of Olympism.
The Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, which will take place in Athens from 13 to 29 August 2004, are certain to be unique", the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) says in his end-of-year message.

Olympic values
For President Rogge, this return to the roots of the Games will also be a chance to highlight the values of Olympism, with the 2004 Games whose watchwords will be tolerance, solidarity, peace and friendship. He is particularly pleased to see that 1,000 signatures have already been collected for the Olympic Truce during the Athens Games.

Forging links
The IOC President wants these Games in Athens to be a universal gathering of youth, where everyone shares the same goal and the same enthusiasm, enabling strong and lasting links to be forged between the athletes of the whole world, and also between the 202 countries taking part in the Games.

Born in 776 BC
The Olympic Games began in Greece in 776 BC, and were held every four years - one Olympiad - at Olympia until 393 AD. Athens hosted the first Olympic Games of the modern era in 1896. In 2004, the Games will be going back to the country of their birth to celebrate the XXVIII Olympiad.

Olympia
This return will be celebrated with the torch relay taking the Olympic flame to all five continents; the marathon run over the original route; the shot-put events in Olympia; and the archery competitions in the 1896 Olympic stadium.

Exhibition at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne
The Olympic Museum in Lausanne will naturally be celebrating this event. An exhibition on the Ancient Games illustrating Greek society, the sports practised and the symbols and values which still exist today (flame, Olympic Truce, culture and education) will open on 27 May 2004.

Season's Greetings
The IOC President extends his best wishes to the whole Olympic family and friends of Olympism everywhere, inviting everyone to focus on Athens on 13 August.

Best wishes for 2004!
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