MOSCOW, October 21. /TASS, Yevgeny Ionov/. International boycott of the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in the former Soviet Union could have been avoided if the International Olympic Committee (IOC) considered the opinion of Olympians at that time, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.
The summer Olympics in 1980, hosted by then-Soviet Union, were marred by a boycott on behalf of a number of foreign countries, including the United States, in protest of Soviet military presence in Afghanistan.
Addressing the first ever World Olympians Forum (WOF), hosted by Moscow on Wednesday, Bach said the boycott could have been avoided if the IOC and the world leaders "could have listened to the Olympians at that time and the boycott could have never happened."
The 61-year-old IOC president, who is the 1976 Summer Olympic in Montreal gold medalist in team’s fencing foil event, said the boycott of the Western nations of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow prompted his intention in the past "to join the IOC administration."
He said "the Olympic Games must be focused on athletes," adding that the current forum of the Olympians would help in granting support for all international athletes.
Political and governmental non-interference into the Olympic movement was the redline of today’s forum of Olympians in Moscow and a relevant declaration was adopted and signed by high-ranking sports officials on Wednesday within the frames of the event.
"We pledge to oppose any political or governmental interference in the autonomy of sports organizations which might prevent an athlete from exercising their right to compete in the Olympic Games or other major sporting event which also embody the Olympic spirit," the declaration said.
The declaration was signed by World Olympians Association (WOA) President Joel Bouzou, IOC President Thomas Bach, and WOA Patron, IOC Member Prince Albert II of Monaco and Olympians representing five continents, Willie Banks (America), Anastasia Davydova (Europe), Hisham El Guerrouj (Africa), Michelle Ford Erikson (Ocenia) and Koji Murofushi (Asia).
Although the WOF was opened at 9:00 a.m. by Joel Bouzou, the president of the World Olympians Association (WOA), Russian President Vladimir Putin formally opened the event after two in the afternoon addressing the inaugural forum with a speech.
Putin formally opened the WOF along with WOA President Bouzou, IOC President Bach, and WOA Patron and IOC Member HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco at an official ceremony marking the start of the historic event.
This high-level delegation was joined on the WOF program by other Olympians and leading figures from the Olympic Movement including, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, President of the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC); IOC Vice-President, Sergey Bubka; Patrick Hickey, IOC Member and European Olympic Committees President; Chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission, Claudia Bokel; Frankie Fredericks, IOC Member and former head of the IOC Athletes’ Commission; Kevan Gosper, IOC Member; and Double Olympic Gold Medallist, Yelena Isinbaeva.
The 2015 WOF, established by the World Olympians Association in partnership with the Russian Olympic Committee, is a new platform to celebrate Olympism and the achievements of Olympians worldwide.