(LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND, August 8, 2007) Today marks the beginning of the final year’s countdown to the Olympic Games in China, which will open on 8 August 2008 in Beijing. In front of thousands of people during an official ceremony in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, IOC President Jacques Rogge addressed the sports movement, the people in China and those all over the world watching Beijing in anticipation of the Games in 12 months’ time. He symbolically handed over the invitations to the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of countries hosting upcoming Games - China, Canada, Great Britain and Russia, as well as to the NOC of Greece, where the first Olympic Games of the modern era were hosted back in 1896.
The full text of the President's speech
"All my greetings to the people of Beijing and China and indeed to the world, since many people are watching live around the globe.
Today, we are sending the invitation to come to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games to a record number of National Olympic Committees.
The representatives from all these NOCs are present, about which I am delighted.
This marks the beginning of the final year’s countdown to the Olympic Games in China.
The world is watching China and Beijing with great expectations.
The athletes also have great expectations and they are all looking forward to competing in the state-of-the-art Beijing venues.
Many of them will have a taster of what is awaiting them as today also marks the start of pre-Olympic test event competitions.
With one year remaining until the Opening Ceremony, we have reached a place from which we can see both vast achievements behind us and the great potential that lies ahead.
Beijing and China will not only host a successful Games for the world’s premier athletes, but will also provide an excellent opportunity to discover China, its history, its culture and its people, with China opening itself to the world in new ways.
Cultural interchange, respect and understanding will be the win-win of Beijing 2008 for the people of Beijing, China and of the world.
Since July 2001, the Organising Committee, lead by President Liu Qi, has worked extremely hard to give Beijing an Olympic shape. Venues are almost finished and look fantastic.
I would like to thank the BOCOG team, the government and all the people involved in the preparations for their sustained efforts and dedication over the last six years and for the good relationship we have established.
The Olympic Games are the celebration of the values of Olympism and of sporting ideals by the youth of the world. They engender dreams and inspiration in the hearts of young people everywhere.
I therefore call upon you all to enjoy the Games one year from now."