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August 8, 2008

Interview of H.S.H. Prince Albert II (Reuters)

Before attending the opening ceremony, Prince Albert II of Monaco gives Reuters his first impressions of these Olympic Games. A member of the IOC, he is attending his twelfth Olympic Games after having participated in the bobsleigh event five times between 1988 and 2002.

 Picture : Interview of H.S.H. Prince Albert II (Reuters)

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Reuters: A few hours before the opening ceremony, what are you feeling?

Prince Albert: Impatient, enthusiastic and impressed! Before the ceremony, I always experience the same impatience, eager for it to begin. I'm approaching my tenth attendance at the Olympics with the same enthusiasm, like a child waiting for Christmas.

Reuters: And, impressed?

Prince Albert II: Impressed by the level of organisation, the capacity for reactivity, their involvement, the care taken over every small detail and their enormous Olympic sites! The Chinese already have all the elements in hand to achieve a benchmark games. It will stand out in the history of the Olympics.

Reuters: But at every games, we are told “these are the best Games in history”?

Prince Albert II: But here, everyone is agreed even before the opening ceremony! Already, the Chinese organisation is universally recognised by athletes, coaches and even journalists. Already, it is completely unprecedented. For example, the Olympic village has unanimously agreed. Until now, I had never truly heard a village do so.

Reuters: Before the events have even started, what has China already won?

Prince Albert II: Everyone arrived with preconceived notions, clichés and beliefs. Some even arrived apprehensive, critical, sceptical and cautious to a country that in fact, they do not know. In one week, China has already earned our respect. And this respect should lead to dialogue, to trying to understand each other better, trying to know each other better and better understanding of our respective mentalities and cultures. China will leave us a great legacy. From today, it starts its ultimate test in order to become a full member of the international community.

Reuters: And the Olympic movement, what has it already won?

Prince Albert II: In return, Olympism will be a great educational and cultural heritage for China. The Games will help this great world power to open up more to the world, to move even further towards progress. For now, China has proved that the Olympic movement can no longer ignore it as a country capable of organising such an event. Four hundred million Chinese children received lessons in Olympism. Thus filled with this education and this Olympic spirit, they will inevitably have a different view of us.

Reuters: You already seem persuaded that China will have a successful Games?

Prince Albert II: As I have said for several months, let us not pass judgement before the first race is run. Let the Games take place. But at the moment, they have started well.

Reuters: During the Olympic Games, what is the most important privilege that your dual status of Prince and member of the IOC gives you?

Prince Albert: To have access to the training sites. I have always loved being behind the scenes where everything is happening, where you meet the people in the background who are so much part of an organisation's success.

Reuters: Like a medal, what is the flip side of this dual status?

Prince Albert: It prevents me from getting lost in the crowd, absorbing its enthusiasm, sharing and enjoying certain emotions with it. Once in my life, I would like to experience a few days at the Games anonymously.

Reuters: If tomorrow you had the right to a single entrance ticket, which one would you choose?

Prince Albert: Paradoxically, since I would like to see everything, anything! I am as enthusiastic about going to watch a badminton match as the final of the 100m freestyle swimming. Me, I can go and see Cameroon against Singapore in field hockey!

Reuters: But, which events do you not want to miss?

Prince Albert: Above all, I do not want to miss a single moment of the performances by the five Monegasque athletes involved. I would regret that for the rest of my life. Then, I'll take a ticket to any diving, athletics, shooting or rowing final. Everything is a bonus, a highlight not to be missed. And if I manage to see Michael Phelps' eight gold medals, that would be truly fabulous.

Reuters: And if you were an Olympic gold medal, which athlete would you like to hang around the neck of?
Prince Albert II: If one day it were to happen to a Monegasque athlete, I would really like to be that one.

Sophie Greuil - Photo 1 : Reuters

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