The series of attractive events continues at the Slovenian House. It has also now served as the venue for a gathering and meeting of members of the World Olympians Association (WOA), an organisation that works for the wellbeing of Olympians in all stages of life.
WOA is an organisation that tries to create as many benefits as possible for sports people who were former Olympic competitors – including possibilities for education, mentorship, jobs and help in transitioning from professional sports to “retirement”. The organisation is convinced that sports people personify the values of excellence, group spirit and discipline, and can serve as a model for the linking together of different communities.
During their regular session, which is taking place at the moment in PyeongChang, they chose the Slovenian House for their event and friendly socialising. Approximately 150 members of the association were addressed by four-time Olympian Joel Bouzou, President of WOA, who said that it was a great honour to speak to so many Olympians. He has a strong emotional bond with South Korea, since he competed here in the 1988 Olympic Games. “We are here to celebrate sporting achievements and I would like to point out, once an Olympian, always an Olympian. To become one requires a lot of work, self-sacrifice and focus, and we are convinced that all this effort should not be overlooked,” he said.
The assembled crowd was also addressed by Iztok Čop, Deputy President of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia and six-time Olympian, who highlighted the importance of linking together Olympians. “In Slovenia in recent years we have been working very hard in this area and are helping young sports people, including educating them about the importance of a career when they have finished with professional sports. Equally, we are striving to introduce the values of sport into various pores of society and in this way to enrich it,” he said, inviting all those at the gathering to come to Slovenia.
The host country was represented by five-time Olympian Lee Eun-chul: “Today we are witness to the fact that the Olympic movement is doing outstanding work through sport. Just how well the Olympic spirit can perform is shown by the joint South and North Korean women’s hockey team. For this reason I am very proud to be an Olympian.”
Finally the gathering was addressed by five-time Olympian Prince Albert II of Monaco, who was honoured with an official toast. In a relaxed chat later Prince Albert told us that he has visited Slovenia several times and has good friends there. He also praised the Slovenian House, whose interior is made of Slovenian timber, which gives it a warm and homely atmosphere and offers an additional Olympic experience. “Slovenia is a wonderful and exceptionally hospitable country, with an outstanding culinary and wine-making story,” he said.
The evening of Olympians continued with relaxed socialising.
The evening continued in a relaxed setting. Some impressions of the evening can be found in our gallery: http://www.slovenska-hisa.org/galerija