30th July 2019

Speech of President of the Republic János Áder at 15th European Maccabi Games Opening

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

In Athens, at the venue of the first modern Olympic Games, there is a marble memorial. There are many magnificent monuments around there, but this one is especially dear to us Hungarians, because there is a Hungarian name on it: the name of Ferenc Kemény.
Ferenc Kemény was born into a Hungarian Jewish family over one and a half centuries ago. He had an excellent French friend who, similarly to him, loved sports. This friend was called Pierre de Coubertin.
The two of them were not satisfied merely by the fact that exercise was a fantastic activity. They gathered enthusiastic supporters around them and together they invented the Olympic Games of nations.
They founded the International Olympic Committee and organised the first modern Olympic Games. And, as it happened, 123 years ago in Athens, at those particular first Olympics, the first Olympic gold medal in the history of Hungary was won by another Hungarian Jewish person, Alfréd Hajós.

Distinguished Guests,

Ferenc Kemény and Alfréd Hajós. The history of Hungarian sports started with them.They are the first heroes of the Hungarian Olympic Team. Heroes of an era that encouraged the organisation of sporting events worldwide.

One of the finest and most peaceful challenges of humanity had become to compete: on the track, the pool, the gymnasium.
To rivalise for the sake of the game.
For the admiration of performance.
For the mesmerising feeling of success.
For the elevating feeling of cheering.
For the community.
The Maccabi Games were called to life by the same ambition once, so that performance may reap success and the games create a community.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

We Hungarians are always ready to cheer for our athletes.
We are proud of every Hungarian success and stand fascinated before that of others. We are proud of all those who compete in Hungarian colours and we are proud that the diverse personal identities always get along well in the common team of the common flag. We are proud of our Jewish compatriots who, with their own performance, have once increased our self-respect and continue to do so today.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

We happily host the athletes of the European Maccabi Games.
I wish you all noble contests and memorable moments. I hope that at the end of the contests you shall be able to say to each what Coubertin wrote to his friend Ferenc Kemény: “Our creation (…), honours us”.

Welcome to Budapest!

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