The Czech capital Prague is hosting the 115th session of the International Olympic Committee which has some important decisions on the agenda. The session officially opened on Tuesday in the presence of many internationally renowned celebrities, sportsmen and politicians, and it was as well a chance to recall the Olympic history of Prague, and prominent Czechs sportsmen.
Among the members of the Olympic Committee who gathered at Tuesday's official opening ceremony of the six-day session in Prague were the former American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Britain's Princess Anne, and the Prince of Monaco, to mention just a few. The Czech president Vaclav Klaus addressed the politicians and sportsmen who came to lobby for their respective countries for the Winter Olympic Games in year 2010, among them the legend of Canadian and international hockey Wayne Gretzky and Austrian Prime Minister Wolfgang Schussel:
"I've spent all my life as a sportsman, I played internationally basketball, so I have some ideas about competition, about sports. We are pleased to have you here, welcome here in Prague, and I hope you'll have at least some time, some opportunity to see this quite nice city and thank you very much for being here."
The President of the International Olympic Committee Jacques Rogge recalled the importance of Prague which is not only a city of art and history, but also the hometown of many Olympic champions, among them gymnast Vera Caslavska, who holds the record for the greatest total number of Olympic medals, and the legendary athlete Emil Zatopek.
"We're extremely pleased and honoured to be here in Prague, a city that symbolizes the unique cultural and historical, and architectural heritage of the Czech Republic. This is indeed for those who love paintings the city of Kupka and Mucha, for those who love music, the city of Smetana. But let me also address you as a sportsman, a football and basketball player at the international level. This is also the city of Vera Caslavska and Emil Zatopek, and so many other great Olympic champions."
After the meeting in 1925, and in 1977 following the invitation from the Czechoslovak president Gustav Husak, this is the third time that the International Olympic Committee has gathered in Prague.
"There is an Olympic history in Prague. When Pierre de Coubertin started the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, he assembled twelve colleagues around him, some say twelve apostles. One of them was Jiri Gut, and it was Jiri Gut who invited the IOC in 1925. You came for the second time with the invitation in 1977, which was also a very successful session. And now today we're back here for some very important decisions."
The selection of the host for the 21st Olympic Winter Games is the highlight among issues the International Olympic Committee came to Prague to discuss.