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One century later, change of Olympic motto brings the world "together"

By Bai Xu and Yue Dongxing | Xinhua | Updated: 2021-07-22 13:28
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Photo taken on July 17, 2021 shows International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach gesturing as he takes part in a news conference following an executive board meeting ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. [Photo/Agencies]

In more than 120 years, the Olympic motto was revised for the first time, with the inclusion of the word "together" to recognize the importance of solidarity.

The new motto, which now reads "Faster, Higher, Stronger - Together," was unanimously approved at the 138th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday.

"Solidarity fuels our mission to make the world a better place through sport. We can only go faster, we can only aim higher, we can only become stronger by standing together - in solidarity," said the IOC president Thomas Bach.

In fact, solidarity has been stressed a lot during the past months, when the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the world.

More than 190 million cases were reported globally, and the death toll surpassed four million.

Solidarity is required more than ever for mankind to win the battle against the virus.

In March, China promised to cooperate with the IOC to provide vaccines to athletes preparing to participate in the Olympic Games.

Hundreds of athletes and staff in the Philippines received the shots of the Sinovac vaccine in May. Chris Nievarez, a 21-year-old rower, said to Japan's state broadcaster NHK that he was relieved to get a jab and will now be able to concentrate on his training.

Solidarity is needed when not everyone in the world lives in peace.

This year five Afghan athletes represent their war-torn country to compete in the global arena.

"We do not have a standard track surface or special shoes to prepare like athletes in other countries," said 30-year-old sprinter Sha Mahmood Noor Zahi. He qualified for Tokyo under the quota and carries the hope of his compatriots struggling to step out of the shadow of warfare.

Solidarity is felt after disasters drove people away from their homeland.

A total of 29 athletes across 12 sports will compete as the IOC Refugee Olympic Team under the Olympic flag, representing millions of displaced people worldwide.

"We are refugees, we don't cry. We have to stay positive. We have to wait for our moment," Paulo Amotun Lokoro, a 29-year-old 1,500m runner who, originally a farmer, escaped from war-torn South Sudan to camp in Kenya's capital city Nairobi.

Bach underlined the role of the Olympic Games as the only event that unites the whole world in peaceful competition. His view was shared by reporters to the Olympics and athletes alike.

Phil Coles, who turned 90 on Tuesday when the motto was revised, is a three-time Olympian from Australia. He could still recall the beach where he grew up covered in barbed wire as shells rained down during the Second World War. They heard a piercing siren and saw the invading Japanese submarine.

He later competed as a kayaker in Rome, Tokyo and Mexico City in the 1960s, where he saw "a new world" in the Olympic village. "Everyone's shaking hands with everyone, your arms around each other."

"The world coming together at the Olympics is something that is not replicated anywhere else," said Tracey Holmes, a senior reporter from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who is going to cover the Olympics for her 12th time in Tokyo. She told Xinhua: "when athletes of the world come together, that helps create understanding to create a better world."

That resonates closely with the wishes of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympic Games. "May the Olympic torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations," he said. "For the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure."

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