Czech Olympic Committee celebrates 120th anniversary
The Czech Olympic Committee yesterday celebrated its 120-year contribution to the Olympic Movement and the promotion of Olympism with a special anniversary concert, which drew internationally renowned musicians and Czech Olympians.
The anniversary concert was entitled, Masters to the Masters, as some of the world’s best musicians, including Václav Hudeček and Jan Mráček (violin), Ivo Kahánek (piano), Radek Baborák (horn player and conductor) and Slovak Dalibor Karvay, performed for some of the world’s best athletes. Before the concert, which was also attended by European Olympic Committees (EOC) President Janez Kocijančič and other NOC representatives, four exceptional Czech sports personalities were awarded:
- Jan Železný: Three-time Olympic gold medallist in javelin, world record holder, three-time world champion, successful coach, and president of the Czech Olympic Foundation.
- Oldřich Svojanovský: Two-time Olympic medallist in rowing, president of Czech Club of Olympians.
- Věra Čáslavská (in memoriam): Seven-time Olympic gold medallist in gymnastics, former President of the Czech Olympic Committee and IOC Member. One of the most famous Czech athletes, not only for her sporting success, but also her contribution and bravery during a difficult time in Czech history
- František Pecháček (in memoriam), 4th at the 1920 Olympic Games with gymnastics team, Sokol (Czech Sokol Community) member. After the German occupation in March 1939, he became provincial commander of the resistance organization Sokol in the resistance. He was arrested, tortured and subsequently executed in Mauthausen in 1944
Czech Olympic Committee President Kejval said:
“The Olympic values are a key part of our DNA. The four Czech personalities we awarded today were top athletes but they also transcended sport to make a significant mark in other areas of society. For us they embody Olympism as a true lifestyle. Olympism is not only about medals or fitness; it stands for fair play, equity, endurance, teamwork and a selfless desire help others. Among Olympians and athletes there were, and still are, many brave people who do not hesitate to voice their opinion when they feel and see injustice. Sport helped to form our nation; sport unites our nation and helps to represent it abroad.”
The Czech Olympic Committee is one of the world’s oldest NOCs having been established in 1899. Its founding Chairman, Jiri Stanislav Guth-Jarkovsky, was one of the very first 12 International Olympic Committee (IOC) Members appointed during the formation of the IOC in 1894. Guth-Jarkovsky played a critical role in helping develop and shape the early years of the Olympic Movement. Since then, the Czechs (as Czechoslovakia and then the Czech Republic) have made a major contribution to the spread of Olympism and with only three exceptions, have competed at every Olympic Games.
The Czech Olympic Committee continues to honour this legacy under the leadership of IOC Member and Czech Olympic Committee President Jiri Kejval. In recent years, the Czech Olympic Committee has engaged in a number of initiatives, such as the Sport Diplomacy programme and Olympic Festivals, to promote the Olympic values within the Czech Republic and internationally.
The 120th anniversary celebrations will continue throughout the year with a book about the history of the Czech Olympic Committee and Czech sports set to be published later this month. A project called Stories of our Olympians, supported by the EOC, is also being launched. The project connects former athletes with young people, who record the athletes’ life stories for future generations. In autumn an outdoor exhibition of photos dedicated to significant milestones of the modern Czech state and sport will also take place.