Thomas Bach (IOC): “Sport is not a religion”

Some see sport as a religion. Others adore this or that athlete. This is not the case with Thomas Bach. The President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) declared on September 30 that “sport is not a religion because sport does not give an answer to our existence but only faith and divine transcendence answer it”.

If he recognizes that sport is a vector of peace, Thomas Bach nevertheless believes that it is dependent on political decisions. “Sport alone cannot create peace alone,” he says again. The leader of the Olympic movement made these remarks on the sidelines of the international summit of sport for all (Sport for all *) in the Vatican, on September 29 and 30. The International Paralympic Committee was also represented by its president, the Brazilian Andrew Parsons.

spirituality in sport

International sports chaplain, the French evangelical pastor Joël Thibault also took part in these two days. According to him, it was this speech by Thomas Bach that was the highlight. “It’s a great opportunity to be with the presidents of sports federations who reflect on the values ​​of sport,” he confides to us.

The co-president of Holistic Sports continues: “It is very interesting to see that the question of spirituality arises in the biggest bodies of sport. Questions of human dignity, solidarity and peace were at the heart of the event.” Joël Thibault was accompanied by Aurélien Collin, professional footballer, young retiree in retraining, and Christopher Hugues, reverend Anglican pastor and co-president of Holistic Sports.

Pope hosts sports summit

In total, more than 250 people from the world of sport (athletes, coaches, managers, sports federations, non-profit associations, etc.) took part in this meeting. Six years after the last one, the theme of the international summit was: “Sport for all: coherent, accessible and adapted to each person”. “It is also an opportunity to advance issues on chaplaincy issues in major sporting events. I was able to ask questions and challenge the leaders of international federations”, rejoices Joël Thibault.

Host of the summit, Pope Francis greeted each delegation. The French pastor was able to give him a copy of the book more than winners. It brings together testimonies of “athletes who love Jesus and who have been transformed by the extraordinary grace of God”. “I told him that I hoped it would be an encouragement for him by reading it. And he answered me in French: “Thank you very much”, while starting to leaf through it, with a big smile”, says the French chaplain.

Joël Thibault exchanges a few moments with the pope about the book More than conquerors (Photo: Vatican media)

Thomas Bach (IOC): “Sport is not a religion” –