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Jacques Rogge welcomed by Young Judoka in Oradea

2010-09-25 15:31:00 IJF

2010.09.23 - A certain agitation was palpable, Tuesday afternoon, all around the small airport of the city of Oradea, in Romania, 15 kilometers from the Hungarian border.

Under bright sunny skies, police forces were getting ready to welcome a very important person as if he were a State leader: the President of the International Olympic Committee, the Belgian, Jacques Rogge. Having been invited by the University of Oradea, Mr. Rogge came to Oradea to receive the title of "Doctor Honoris Causa". A few minutes before the landing of the "presidential" aircraft, one could also notice the presence of young children gathered several hundred meters from the runway, all wearing their most beautiful judogi and all of them coming from the local club of Ciprian FLEISZ, who is also a Romanian junior national coach and Kata Champion.

Upon the request of Marius L. Vizer, President of the International Judo Federation and native of the region, this small parade was conscientiously prepared, in order to offer an original welcome to the IOC President. A kind of nervousness and excitation reigned among the young judoka, from 6 to 16 years old. Such events do not happen every day - welcoming the most important leader of such an institution.

At exactly 16:46, the twin-engine plane, coming from Bucharest, landed in Oradea, immediately bringing into two perfect lines all the judoka. Awaited at the foot of the plane by President Vizer, accompanied by an IJF delegation and local leaders, Jacque Rogge was really pleased to be welcomed by so many young sportsmen and sportswomen, showing how strong judo in the region is. A few words and a few greetings later, Jacque Rogge, received a superb judogi from the youngest judoka present, a judogi with his name on the back and with the IOC and IJF logo on it. It was a perfect beginning of the IOC President's stay in Oradea.

More than a Title, a Recognition

The small lecture hall of the Oradean University was full when the Doctor Honoris Causa title was given to the IOC President. In front of many local and university leaders, in front of the representatives of the National Olympic Committee from Romania, in front of the 18 University deans of Oradea, but also in the presence of Mr. Vizer, IJF President, Mr. Sergey Soloveychik, European Judo Union President, Mr. Daniel Lascau, Vice-President of the European Judo Union, Mr. Eduard Doandes, President of the Romanian Judo Federation and many others, Mr. Rogge delivered a very strong message to the assembly. It is also very important to notice that Alina Dumitru (ROU), Olympic Champion and recently bronze medalist on the occasion of the World Judo Championship, Tokyo 2010, was also present during the ceremony.

Counting 18 faculties and more than 20,000 students, the University of Oradea and its Faculty of Physical Education and Sports are among the best in the country.

In that framework, even if this was the 21st Doctor Honoris Causa title for IOC President, that one was really the symbol of an entire life dedicated to medicine (i.e. Mr. Rogge is an orthopedic surgeon known worldwide) and to sports in general. Mr. Rogge participated himself to the Olympic Games before becoming today’s President of the Olympic Noble institution.

After the award ceremony, Mr. Rogge , during his speech, highlighted some very important points: "Sport must be a synonym for education above everything, but also a synonym for respect and fraternity. Sport helps to build a better society and peaceful solidarity. It also helps males and females from the five continents to share mutual respect." Then Mr. Rogge also added: "It is sometimes a little bit sad to see how sport disappears from the school curricula, when sport should be the cornerstone of the spirit and the personality of worldwide youth. Today, Olympism is a state of mind that assures the balance between education and culture. Sport can help society to educate the youth and can help to promote a mutual understanding.”

Inauguration of the Territorial Center of Olympic Studies

Right after the ceremony, Mr. Rogge, who had a very busy schedule, inaugurated the Territorial Center of Olympic Studies, as a structure of the Research Center on Human Performance of the University of Oradea. Then he took part in a press conference, also accompanied by the IJF President, Marius L. Vizer. During that conference, of course, Mr. Rogge explained how pleased he was with that new title, but judo was also one of the subjects that was put on the floor when a journalist asked Mr. Vizer, what were the IJF’s plans as far as integrating a team competition into the Olympic program. Mr. Vizer answered clearly: "For sure, we want a team competition to be integrated into the Olympic program and we want that even more now, after the great success of the team event on the occasion of the first edition of the Youth Olympic games that were held in Singapore this past August. The team competition perfectly fits with the Olympic spirit and we would like to see that dream come true in Rio, 2016. We are ready to organize it but it is not our decision and we will make a precise proposition to the IOC", explained Mr. Vizer. Then Mr. Rogge also took the floor. Of course, it is not his responsibility to answer such a question now, but he simply added that the International Judo Federation, led by its president, was on the right path and he thanked Mr. Vizer in a friendly way, calling him, "the child of Oradea", in reference to Vizer's home town.

A little more than two hours after arriving in Oradea, Mr. Rogge was already ready to leave the Romanian city and head off to Bucharest, but he was leaving with the firm impression that those two hours were really important in order to spread an important message; as for the IJF, it was really a positive day that showed how good and friendly the relations with the IOC were.

Oradea, Romania
Nicolas Messner
IJF Media Director

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