Zagreb, January 3, 2017 - The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach looked back at the successful Olympic year 2016, stating that sports is one of the few activities that have the strength and the power to unite people in, as he highlighted, ever more "fragile" world.

"It is the pillar of stability for many nations, regardless of differences, which was confirmed by the Olympic Games in Rio, and added that this sports event, like no other in 2016, has brought together under the Olympic banner both the international community and athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees and the first Refugee Olympic Team. "It was a rare moment of unity and solidarity among mankind", said Bach, adding that "in a world where distrust and insecurity are ever growing, sport is a source of joy and inspiration for many, giving us hope that humanity is stronger than the forces that are trying to discourage it.”

IOC President also commented the statistical data on media coverage of the Olympic Games in Rio, which were watched by almost half the world's population, while social networks - through which video recordings of competitions were watched 7.2 billion times - contributed to the availability of broadcasting. Bach believes that this fact as well as the expectation of the public requires an even greater responsibility of sports organizations in the community.

As challenges in the new, post- Olympic 2017, Bach mentioned the fight against doping in the context of devastating findings of a recently published so-called McLaren report and damage the systematic doping has caused to the credibility and integrity of sports. Professor Richard McLaren led the independent commission hired by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to investigate the allegations of systematic, state-supported doping of Russian athletes, and the findings were published at the "The IOC will continue demanding a more efficient, more transparent and more powerful anti-doping system", said Bach on that topic.

In terms of the world’s Olympic movement, 2017 will be marked by preparations for Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018, the first of three Olympic Games to be held in Asia, followed by Tokyo Olympics 2020 and Winter Olympic Games Beijing 2022, as well as consistent efforts in implementations of the Olympic Agenda 2020 Recommendations. (hoo/msč)