Photo © IOC/Greg Martin

Please find below the full speech delivered by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach during the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 today, 4 February 2022.

Dear fellow Olympians,

Your Excellency, Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China,

Your Excellencies, Antonio Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Abdulla Shahid, President of the UN General Assembly,

President of the Organising Committee, Cai Qi,

Your Excellencies,

Dear Olympic friends,

Welcome to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

To all our Chinese friends: a very happy new year.

Happy New Year! Best wishes for the Year of the Tiger!

This Year of the Tiger is also an Olympic Year. Both the Year of the Tiger and the Olympic Year stand for ambition, courage and strength.

Today, thanks to this ambition, China is a winter sport country. Well over 300 million people are engaged in winter sports in about 2,000 ski resorts and ice rinks. 

This extraordinary achievement opens a new era for global winter sport. It will raise the global participation to new levels, benefiting the Chinese people as well as winter sport enthusiasts around the world.

We can only write this new chapter in sporting history, because of our gracious hosts – the Chinese people, whom we thank wholeheartedly for welcoming us all so warmly.

Thank you, our Chinese friends!

A special thanks goes to all the volunteers. You make us feel at home from the very first moment we arrived. Your smiling eyes are warming our hearts.  Thank you volunteers.

Unfortunately, the global pandemic is still a reality for all of us. Therefore, our gratitude is even deeper for the Beijing 2022 Organising Committee, the public authorities and all the Chinese people. Thank you for making these Olympic Winter Games happen – and making them happen in a safe way for everyone.

We all could only get here because of the countless medical workers, doctors, scientists, everybody in China and around the world who is going beyond the call of duty. Thank you for your outstanding efforts and solidarity.

In the same spirit, our heart goes out to all the athletes who because of the pandemic could not make their Olympic dream come true.

Dear fellow Olympians,

Your Olympic stage is set.

You have arrived here after overcoming so many challenges, living through great uncertainty. But now your moment has come: the moment you have been longing for – the moment we all have been longing for.

Now – your Olympic dream is coming true – in magnificent venues, supported by hundreds of millions of new Chinese winter sport fans. 

You the Olympic athletes – you will show how the world would look like, if we all respect the same rules and each other.

Over the next two weeks you will compete with each other for the highest prize. At the same time, you will live peacefully together under one roof in the Olympic Village.

There – there will be no discrimination for any reason whatsoever.

In our fragile world, where division, conflict and mistrust are on the rise, we show the world: yes, it is possible to be fierce rivals, while at the same time living peacefully and respectfully together. 

This is the mission of the Olympic Games: bringing us together in peaceful competition. Always building bridges, never erecting walls. Uniting humankind in all our diversity.

This mission is strongly supported by the United Nations General Assembly. It adopted the Olympic Truce Resolution by consensus of all 193 UN Member States. The resolution explicitly mentions you, the Olympic athletes, welcoming how you promote peace and human understanding through the Olympic ideal.

In this Olympic spirit of peace, I appeal to all political authorities across the world: observe your commitment to this Olympic Truce. Give peace a chance.

Dear athletes, we all are standing with you. We all are supporting you. We all are cheering you on.

May this encourage you to go faster, to aim higher, to become stronger – together. In this way you will inspire the world in this Olympic Year with the same ambition, courage and strength like the Year of the Tiger.

Now I have the honour of inviting the President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Xi Jinping, to declare open the 24th Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.

The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit, civil, non-governmental, international organisation made up of volunteers which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of USD 3.4 million goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.

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