Olympic Family Mourns Loss of Nelson Mendela

7 December 2013

AOC: The Olympic Movement has paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela with the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach describing him as a “hero of humanity”. 

Speaking at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Bach said the “Olympic Movement is mourning the loss of a great friend”. 

The flags at IOC HQ have been lowered to half mast for three days as a mark of respect.

Bach was flanked by the IOC Member for South Africa, Sam Ramsamy, a close friend of Mandela for many years.

“This is a time to celebrate a great life, not to mourn,” Ramsamy said. “Mandela taught us South Africa is a nation of many cultures but it is one nation. It is not a nation of black and white”.

He recalled Mandela’s famous quote “sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, it has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination”.

The President of the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), John Coates, also sent his condolences to the Mandela family and the people of South Africa through a message to Mr Ramsamy.

Coates said it has been an honour to have met Mandela on three occasions. “He earned the respect of people the world over and was an inspiration to us all. He clearly understood the power of sport as an instrument of peace and mutual understanding,” Coates said.