The Prime Minister Janes Janša attended the state ceremony on the occasion of the Day of Slovenian Sport
- Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)
Today in Bled, Prime Minister Janes Janša attended the state ceremony on the occasion of the Day of Slovenian Sport and the opening event of the European Week of Sport, where he was the keynote speaker.
The state ceremony was attended by a number of distinguished guests from Slovenia and abroad, including Igor Zorčič, President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, Alojz Kovšca, President of the National Council of the Republic of Slovenia, Marija Gabriel, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Spyros Capralos, President of the European Olympic Committees, and Bogdan Gabrovec, President of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia.
In his keynote address at the ceremony, the Prime Minister spoke about the importance of sport for the Slovenian nation. He noted that, in June last year, the National Assembly had declared 23 September as the Day of Slovenian Sport. On this day in 2000, the Slovenian anthem was played at the Olympic Games – and this twice – for the first time in the history of the Republic of Slovenia. In the words of the Prime Minister, the Day of Slovenian Sport commemorates the day when Slovenian sport went down in Olympic sporting history. The Prime Minister recalled that the week from 23 to 30 September also marks the European Week of Sport, which takes place every year across Europe to promote sport and sporting activities.
"The decision to celebrate the Day of Slovenian Sport as a national holiday is a very special one in Europe, but given what sport means to Slovenians, it is an understandable one. It is also a recognition of all those who, in the spirit of the famous Greek saying 'A healthy mind in a healthy body', care for their physical and mental fitness through various sporting activities. And last but not least, it’s a celebration for everyone who loves sport." The Prime Minister went on to emphasise that in professional sport, achievements do not come overnight, nor do they come by themselves: "Athletes know very well how much effort and sacrifice is involved for them and their families. Apart from athletes and coaches, only a small circle of people are aware of the efforts needed to turn your participation into success, especially outstanding achievements, so that the effort is rewarded with results. So that doors open to places where only the best can enter."
The Prime Minister continued his speech by stressing that this government is aware of all of the above: "As a result, a number of legislative changes are underway to support and encourage the future development of sport in Slovenia. We are planning to make changes in the area of tax policy, whereby a certain amount of investment in top-level sport will be tax-free. Special legislation on investment in basic sports infrastructure for the next five years is also being drafted, which will help the government to provide the missing sports facilities wherever they are urgently needed in Slovenia. We are aware that only working together can bear fruit and reap a bountiful harvest, which is why we have involved all stakeholders in the drafting of the legislation. I can say with certainty that all these changes will bring added value to Slovenian sport that we have not seen in the last 20 years. Slovenian sport deserves it."
The Prime Minister pointed out that Slovenians have historically been successful in almost all sports. It would be a considerable feat to list all the outstanding Slovenian athletes and all the sports in which they have competed. The Prime Minister thanked all Slovenian athletes and generations of athletes whose results had placed Slovenia among the countries with top sporting achievements even before it gained its independence. He also thanked all those who are "fighting with their bodies and souls" for their homeland today and all those who took part in this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, which were extremely successful for Slovenia: "Without any doubt, Slovenia is a superpower in sport, and we are extremely proud of all who contribute to its success. This year’s successes at the Olympic Games were achieved in the year when Slovenia is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independent statehood, making them a special gift to the homeland on its birthday." The Prime Minister said that these achievements are invaluable and that only athletes know just how much effort has been invested in each of the medals.
He said in his speech that he was pleased that the Government of the Republic of Slovenia had amended the rules of the Ministry of Education and Sport, introducing better rewards for achievements and almost doubling cash prizes for medals at the Olympic Games. The prizes are higher not only for medals won at the Olympic Games, but also for those won by athletes with disabilities, Paralympic and Deaflympic medallists, and chess players who take the podium at the Chess Olympiad. "We have also increased the prizes for the coaches of medallists at the Olympics and other competitions. What I want to share with you today is what always appeals to me personally in sports. This is the fact that sport has always united Slovenians, and it continues to do so." The Prime Minister emphasised that athletes are citizens whose successes unite the Slovenian nation: "Sport doesn’t divide people according to where they’re from, what their political or religious beliefs are, what they believe in or who they trust. In the stands or at home, when we follow Slovenian sports teams fighting for the highest achievements and medals on behalf of Slovenia, we breathe as one. We forget that we are different and that our views of the world may not be the same. There is the Slovenian flag in our hands and the Slovenian anthem on our lips. This is the power of sport, as it was in the past, as it is in the present and as it will be in the future." He noted that as the world has faced the epidemic in the last year, we have often remembered this power of sport: "Our wish was to breathe as one in our fight with the virus as well. We did not always succeed. Sport succeeded, however, in making us forget about our hardships and enjoy your successes and achievements even in these times."
For Slovenians, as the Prime Minister said, sport is proof that we can be united and connected when we have a common goal. That is what it was like 30 years ago. This year Slovenia is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its independence, which was born out of the unity of its nation: "The fact is that when we have something that unites us, we are strong and can overcome all obstacles, and in the end celebrate together. This is why sport got its national holiday in Slovenia."
The Prime Minister underlined that Slovenia is a superpower in sport; considering the size of its population it ranks first in terms of sporting achievements. "This perseverance of us Slovenians is the answer to the question of why we, as a nation, have survived, remained in this beautiful part of Europe and preserved our identity." According to the Prime Minister, there is a great symbolism in what sport means to Slovenians.
The Prime Minister concluded his speech with the words of Goethe, who once wrote: "Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it." He added that Slovenian athletes are proof that nothing is impossible: "We just have to decide what we want to achieve and boldly follow our dreams. I would like to sincerely congratulate you on the occasion of this national holiday, the Day of Slovenian Sport."
Following the state ceremony, the Prime Minister hosted a reception for Slovenian Olympic and Paralympic athletes at Vila Bled.
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