By David Owen at the Grimaldi Forum in Monte Carlo

Thomas Bach speaking to open the Extraordinary IOC Session in Monte Carlo ©IOC/Ian JonesInternational Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach pressed Shakespeare, Nelson Mandela and Baron Pierre de Coubertin into service here tonight, as he urged IOC members to back the Agenda 2020 reform proposals.

"It is up to you to show that this is our vision for the future of the Olympic Movement," Bach told listening IOC members at the Opening Ceremony of the 127th IOC Session in Monte Carlo's Grimaldi Forum.

"Let us unite behind our Olympic Agenda 2020...

"Let us together shape an even brighter future for this magnificent, truly global Olympic Movement."

The 96 IOC members present in Monaco will pass judgement on the 40 Agenda 2020 recommendations in a series of votes tomorrow and Tuesday (December 9).

The meeting may pave the way for greater flexibility in both the host-city bidding process and the sporting programme, and for the launch of a dedicated Olympic media channel.

In his introductory speech, Prince Albert II of Monaco, an IOC member of long standing, emphasised that "the decisions we must take during the Session are of the utmost importance" for the future of the Olympic Movement.

In his own dense 29-minute and, for the most part, very serious address, Bach first quoted Mandela's assertion that "sport has the power to change the world" before advocating the wisdom of implementing change from a position of strength, not weakness.

"Success is the best reason for change," he argued, underlining that the IOC invests "more than $3 million (£1.9 million/€2.4 million) a day" to support worldwide sport, and had signed sponsorship and TV contracts worth more than $10 billion (£6 billion/€7.2 billion) in the last 10 months.

"The success of today gives you only the opportunity to drive the change for tomorrow," he said, adding, with a Shakespearean flourish: "To change or to be changed, that is the question".

The IOC, led by President Thomas Bach and Prince Albert, has descended on the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco for the Session ©IOC
The IOC, led by President Thomas Bach and Prince Albert, has descended on the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco for the Session ©IOC

On the Olympic channel, the IOC President argued that, "We must give our athletes and sports the worldwide media exposure they deserve also between Olympic Games".

He urged a changed mindset in the fight against doping and other scourges of international sport.

"We have to consider every single cent in the fight against these evils not as an expense but as an investment in the future of Olympic sport," he said.

On the issue of young people and sport, he said the Movement could not be satisfied just with increasing the number of young people watching the Games: "We have an interest and a responsibility to get the couch potatoes off the couch."

He closed with a touch of whimsy by suggesting that De Coubertin was "following us closely these days".

The founder of the modern Olympic Movement was, Bach claimed, "always a man of reforms".

He went on: "He [De Coubertin] said, 'Courage ... and hope! .... charge boldly through the clouds and do not be afraid. The future belongs to you.'"

The Ceremony concluded with a dramatic performance of a ballet entitled Towards a Good Country by Jean-Christophe Maillot, director of the Ballets of Monte Carlo.

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