IOC President Thomas Bach:’It’s beautiful to be here’

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach spent his last and only afternoon on Guam visiting some of Guam’s sports facilities, rounding out a whirlwind 24-hour visit here.

Bach, along with other leaders from the IOC and Oceania National Olympic Committee, arrived on Guam Friday evening from Palau, and was scheduled to depart 24 hours later to Hong Kong.

He made the most of his trip, with a reception dinner at the Dusit Thani Guam Resort. And on Saturday, he led his entourage to Matapang Beach in Tumon for the GKCF/IIAAG Kareran Galaide finals. More than 120 racers gathered for the finale under a blistering, postcard-worthy day of high school outrigger canoe racing.

“This is fantastic. It’s a fantastic beach and to see all the kids enthusiastic, that’s a real Olympic experience. This is what sports is all about and the joy of sport,” he said.

Bach visited the Guam Basketball Confederation’s National Training Center, as well as the IOC-funded GNOC building in Maite. He was scheduled to visit LeoPalace after that, said GNOC president Ricardo Blas.

Bach — considered the most influential man in worldwide sports — also addressed members of the media at the GNOC office. He said that the IOC spends $3.4 million per day supporting its 206 member NOCs, or about $5 billion per year.

Guam has an advantage over other countries too, he added. Its smaller size, when compared to other countries and their millions of people, have helped Guam attain self-sufficiency, without depending on a government subsidy to stay afloat.

“You are one of the few NOCs in the world independent of government funding and therefore can develop sport in full autonomy,” he said. “On the other hand, it gives the opportunity to work with the government on specific projects in such a way to establish parternships in mutual respect. This is what we are striving for in the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Movement.”

 Answering a final question, Bach refused to give any hints about the opening ceremonies planned for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

“Opening ceremonies must always offer a surprise,” he said. “But you can be sure it will be a brilliant opening ceremony.”

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