Hosting the IOC Session for the first time, the Singapore National Olympic Committee (NOC) made every effort to make the opening evening unforgettable for IOC members, delegations from the five candidate cities and guests gathered on this occasion. The ceremony was hosted by the former fencer who is now a journalist, Nicholas FANG, and TV presenter Vivien TAN, and its Artistic Director was Glen GOEI, who has, during his career, organized the last two parades for National Day celebrations as well as many shows musicals, reviews, etc.
Mr NG Ser Miang who is President of the Session Organizing Committee and IOC member, underlined in his speech, 'this Session is a great moment for Singaporeans to be able to join the world in spirit and embrace the values of Olympism - of hope, equality, respect for others, friendship and fair play, dreams and inspiration, joy in effort. To Singapore, hosting the Session is the next best thing to hosting the Olympic Games. It is also a unique opportunity for us to contribute to the Olympic Movement'.
After thanking his Singaporean hosts for their marvellous hospitality, IOC President Jacques ROGGE (BEL) declared at the outset that, 'this 117th IOC Session will be very important and comes at a time in which the IOC is in an excellent state. The Olympic Movement has just enjoyed a series of Olympic Winter and Summer Games of extremely high quality … The IOC has been able to affirm its values by making important progress in our first priority, the fight against doping, in both Salt Lake City and Athens. This reinforces the trust of the athletes in clean competition, and that of the general public in the image of the Games'.
Concerning the important choices that the IOC members would be called upon to make during this Session, ROGGE observed that 'the election of the host city for the 2012 Games will not be easy in view of the very high quality of the candidates. … Four cities will, of course, be deeply disappointed, but they should know that a candidature, even if it is not selected, leaves a tangible legacy.' Regarding the Olympic programme for 2012, 'the decision of the IOC members will have a great impact on the athletes, including those whose sports are currently on the programme and those whose sports aspire to one day be part of it.' The IOC President concluded on an optimistic note: 'The future of the Olympic Movement and the IOC is promising. This Session will allow us to prepare well for tomorrow.'
On the eve of the vote for the host city of the Games of the XXX Olympiad, ROGGE, also spoke to the IOC Website, olympic.org about his view of the 2012 vote and the review of the Olympic programme.
Olympic.org: What makes the Olympic Games so successful, so prestigious?
Jacques ROGGE: First of all, they are very rare: only every four years, and secondly, they represent the universality of the world. Athletes of all ethnic groups, religions, political beliefs live together peacefully in the Olympic Village at the same time in the same city. This is something unique, which you don't find in other sports competitions.
Olympic.org: Mr President, how do you explain that five of the most prestigious cities in the world are competing so hard to get the Olympic Games?
Jacques ROGGE: Well, firstly it is because of the quality of the Games and their appeal, because the cities know that, through the financial support of the International Olympic Committee, their operating budget will most likely end in profit and that they will be able to build a great legacy for future generations.
Olympic.org: How confident is the IOC that the decision on the 2012 Host City is going to be fair and above board?
Jacques ROGGE: We are sure that it is going to be fair and above board because it is based firstly on a very thorough evaluation by an expert group, which has advised all the IOC members of the strengths and weaknesses of each candidature. Secondly, we have very strict rules to avoid the slippage of the past. And finally, we also have confidence in the organizers themselves. These are organizers from highly prestigious cities and we have full confidence in them and in the IOC members alike.
Olympic.org: What are the essential features that a city must have to be selected as the Host City?
Jacques ROGGE: Well, definitely to put the athletes centre stage, and that means a very good Olympic Village, a good transportation system, good security provisions, and above all, the love for sport and the support of the local population, the government and authorities.
Olympic.org: How important is the report of the Evaluation Committee to the 2012 decision?
Jacques ROGGE: I think it is going to be the determining factor because the IOC members will want to be sure that the athletes will be well treated and that everything is provided for them. Beyond the report is also the chemistry - the personal links you can have and the confidence you can have with the future organizers, because not everything can be included in a report and, ultimately, the Games are organized by people and not by organizations.
Olympic.org: What is the rationale behind the review of the Olympic programme and what do you expect from this review?
Jacques ROGGE: What I think is very important is that, for the very first time in 40 years, we now have a process in place that will enable us after each Olympic Games to review the success of the programme and to see whether the Olympic programme fits the needs of the youth of the world. The popularity of the Games is very much decided by the quality of the programme and we have to appeal to all aspects of society - young people, middle-aged people and elderly people and, definitely, this is a unique blend of different sports. Sports evolve, some become more popular and some decline, and we have to be adaptive to that.
Olympic.org: What decisions has the IOC made so far, what's been happening up to now in Singapore?
Jacques ROGGE: We have had the Executive Board meeting, and during that we reflected on what we have done in the last four years and this has encouraged us to continue with the strategies that we have put in place, because the state of the IOC and the Olympic Movement is absolutely excellent today but, of course, the future has to be prepared - that's what we are going to do on 6 July by selecting the best possible candidate city.