Speech By President James Alix Michel At The Opening Of The 8th Indian Ocean Island Games 5th August, 2011
Sun, 07 August 2011
Your Excellency Mr. Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Republic of Maldives,
Heads of Delegations to the Games,
Dear Members of Delegations,
Dear Fellow Citizens,
I would like to first of all express my sentiments of tremendous joy and the legitimate pride of the Seychellois people in hosting this important sporting and youth event of our region.
Your large presence in this sporting and cultural manifestation shows, without any doubt, the vitality of the peoples of the Indian Ocean. We are truly small island states, but full of ideas, ambitions and have achieved plenty of successes. The regular organisation of these games in our different islands is tangible proof of this.
On this special occasion of encounters, reunions and joy,I would like to wish you all a warm welcome, in particular the delegations from the Comoros, the Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Mayotte, Reunion, and also the officials and representatives from the different countries and international organisations present.
I would like, in particular to extend a very warm welcome to President Mohamed Nasheed. The Republic of Maldives and all of the countries represented here are linked by a common vision and by an enduring sense of solidarity in the face of the grave problems we are confronted with. More than ever, we, the Small Island Developing States, need to work together. We need to speak with one voice. We need to denounce the inequities of a system which imperil our existence. We need not only to speak out against climate change, but seek innovative solutions to a phenomenon which threatens our very survival. Your presence is a powerful testimony to the importance we attach to our relations, to solidarity in our region and to the values we hold in common. We thank you, Mr. President, for being with us.
Ladies and Gentlemen
This moment is particularly moving for me because, in 1993, in this very same stadium, in the heart of Mahe, Seychelles organized, for the first time, the 4th games, with the splendour you will remember.Today, 18 years later, how far we have travelled!
Over the years the islands games have actually established themselves as the major sporting event of the region. The games have become the expression of admirable performance, harmonizing the healthy development of the body and the mind. The games cultivate the Olympic values. Above all, the islands games today allow our youths to sharpen their talents. These encounters encourage the meeting of and dialogue among our cultures and connect our youth in their socio-economic environment. All these has now turned this manifestation into a specific sporting event, which unites the participants from a common geographical area and promotes an identity of thinking linked to the discovery of one another and the sharing of the values of sports.
I am therefore delighted with the organization in our country of this 8th edition of the games which is seen by our people not simply out of respect for the system of rotation, but rather because of the hard work involved and the reward for the efforts deployed by the whole nation. Certainly a small nation, but determined to offer its youth all the opportunities and all the available means for the channelling of their interests and for their ambitions to blossom.
In a world still affected by persistent economic crisis, a world suffering from all sorts of internal divisions, Seychelles offers the reassuring image of a harmonious country where peace and stability prevail. It is a country that is opening up to prosperity.
We owe this happy situation to the determined effort to, on the one hand, consolidate national unity, and on the other, the courageous economic and social reforms which required the participation of the forces of the whole nation. These precious gains from which we draw legitimate pride and comfort, are the results of the unfailing engagement and struggle by our people, actions with which our Seychellois youth are closely associated.
We know that sports contributes not only to the physical and mental development of those who practice it, but also to improvements in their daily lives and the peaceful functioning of society.
In this context, we note that during these past years more and more of our young athletes find themselves developing in an environment threatened by challenges such as violence, delinquency, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse¦ As there is a strong and intimate link between the athletes and their environment, these social ills reduce to nothing the efforts of the network of sports associations, and devalue the positive outcomes of sports. This situation is the object of grave preoccupation because it compromises the future of the youth and the future of the country.
Seychelles greatly shares this preoccupation and views the Indian Ocean Islands Games as an appropriate platform to promote reflection and exchange of views on the performance of the athletes in relation to their environment.
In order to stand up to the challenges, a society can evolve in a positive way only on the foundation of a healthy, educated, motivated, engaged and active youth. It is in this spirit that Seychelles has just launched a social renaissance movement. It is a national task which will guarantee an even more prosperous country and which is aimed at the development of the Seychellois nation through the strengthening of social, cultural, moral and spiritual values. Sports has an important role to play in this undertaking.
From a regional point of view, the Indian Ocean Islands Games and the Games of the Indian Ocean Commission for Youths & Sports constitute frameworks for reference and action for the full integration of youth and sports in the social, economic and environmental components of our development.
Consequently, dear athletes, you should do your best to become glowing examples of good conduct, integrity, of hope in physical and mental effort and to be daring in creativity.
It is important to note that, at individual level as well as part of the team, no feat can be realized without sacrifice and victory over oneself. Without these virtues, which are part of the vitality of the human being, the youth and the country risk sinking into a multiplicity of social ills. You must also denounce these scourges and fight unfailingly to eliminate the germs of destruction threatening our societies. We want our societies to be healthy and dynamic.
I would like to address a few words to our Seychellois athletes. All of us - government, your families, your communities - have invested a lot in you. We have done it - and will continue to do so - because we believe strongly in the youth of Seychelles, and in the future of our country. All that we ask from you in return is to remain the pillars of our society.Follow, and set good examples. Live a healthy life. Contribute, with all your effort, to the development and wellbeing of our people.
And precisely, sports is a fundamental element in this process. We therefore have to ensure that sports remains essential for development and wellbeing.Sports is also a factor of social integration through teams in the districts, and through participation in associations to sensitise ourselves to the fundamental universal values that make up human society. Sports, as an element of social cohesion, is the only universal socio-cultural practice that can bring together all children, men and women around the same ideals of friendship and sharing.
The Indian Ocean Islands Games has the merit of according all our athletes the importance of their development, from where they started, to recognition at regional and international levels.
You are the pride of our nation. The hope of our people. We have confidence in you. We know that you will give your best. We know that you will bring another victory for Seychelles. Our islands, our Games! I wish you all good luck and plenty of success.
Heads of delegations to the Games,
Dear fellow citizens,
Before ending, I would like to convey my sincere congratulations and my gratitude to all the members of the International Council of the Games for their total commitment to the preparations for the games.
I would equally salute the participation, know-how and devotion of the members of the Organizing Committee and the many subcommittees that left nothing undone in their efforts to ensure that these Games to take place in the best possible conditions.
And here I would like to express my appreciation to all the hundreds of volunteers for their devotion and their invaluable contribution.
I cannot fail to mention the surge in national, regional and international solidarity as well as the offers of partnership registered right from the official announcement of the organisation of the games. I remain deeply touched by this. The generosity of one and all has enabled us to mobilize significant funds for the realization of these fine games. I today express my sincere gratitude and that of the Seychellois nation to all the people who have made any contributions.
I will watch the unfolding of the 8th Indian Ocean Islands Games with great interest. I wish all delegations moments of exceptional emotions and enriching encounters, in friendship, fraternity and fair-play.
With this, I now have the honour of declaring the 8th Indian Ocean Islands Games open.
May the best win!