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More than four decades of the International Children's Games

On the 5th of June 1968, the first International Children's Games took place in Celje, Slovenia. On the initiative of physical education teacher, Profesor Metod Klemenc, young male and female children between the age of 12 and 15 meet from Belgrade (Serbia and Montenegro), Brno (Chech Republic), Celje (Slovenia), Graz (Austria), Kranj (Slovenia), Lausanne (Swiss), Trbovlje (Slovenia), Udine (Italy) and Zagreb (Croatia) meet at that time for an Track and Field competition.

On the basis of the realization that a happy future for children is in a great degree dependent on the understanding, tolerance and respect they have for each other, and because of the realization that sports especially represent a significant function where the fellowship of children of different nationalities is concerned, the sports officals from that time: Prof. Metod Klemenc from Celje, as President and Prof. Ovido Bernes from Udine, Dr. Josef List from Graz, Dr. Robert Sander from Munich, Emmanuel Braunschweig from Lausanne, and Zoran Naprudnik from Ljubljana, as members meet together and decided to establish an International Committee of the Children's Games - with the basic goal and task being - through the encouragement of sports meets and competitions to enable the children of different countries, with their different languages, origins and outlooks, to meet at different types of sports, to practice friendship and understanding and to help to secure world peace and follow the Olympic ideals.

And so the international Children's Games were born...

Since then more than 50 cities in Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia have hosted unforgettable and successful Summer- and Winter-Games.
The young athletes participating in these Games came from all Continents and more than 800 cities took the chance to be part of the movement.
These numbers clearly reflect the great significance of the International Children's Games movement.However, it is not just sports that are important in the meets of children, they are getting acquainted with other cultures and life styles, with sightseeing tours, excursions, common events and free-time activities that are the essential part of inter-cultural learning and fellowship of the young athletes.

For this reason, our special thanks and recognition go to the cities and the responsible representatives, who, during this time, in a totally outstanding way, have organized and carried out the games. Every city has, with its citizens, lived with the games and has demonstrated a highly positive example of hospitality for the greater well-being of the athletes. Every game in every city was and remains, something special - a unique and unforgettable experience for the respective children and their chaperones.

With each new presentation of the International Children's Games, the organization of the games is strengthened, without which we cannot imagine the successful development of the International Children's Games. It should not be forgotten that our movement has experienced some bad times as well and that many sports enthusiasts from many cities and countries have sufficiently and during the long-term voluntarily sacrificed their time and energy for the ideals of the games and for the well-being of the children, thus strengthening the movement of the International Children's Games and thereby sustaining it.

The International Children's Games are presented in a reliable structure and each year Summer Games with more than 1500 athletes in 7 to 10 disciplines take place for 5 days. Usually up to 75 cities from all around the world participate. Every two years Winter Games with 600 athletes are organized.

The chronology of the games carried out, elucidates with its statistics, very precisely the terrific achievement and success of the International Children's Games in their entire dimension and scope. Even so, it is necessary here to accentuate again the most important main points in the development of the International Children's Games:

  • The founding year of the International Children's Games - 1968 in Celje, Slovenia
  • Recognition of the International Children's Games by the International Olympic Committee at the meeting of the "Commission Executive du Comite International Olympique" on the 10th, 11th and 12th of December, 1990 in Lillehammer, Norway
  • The 1st Winter Games which were carried out from February 10 - 13, 1994 in Ravne na Koroskem, Slovenia
  • The 23rd Summer Games which took place for the first time outside of Europe from June 15 - 19, 1994 in Hamilton, Canada
  • The 28th Summer Games from June 10-14, 1998 in Logrono, Spain where for the first time the President of the International Olympic Committee, Mr. Juan Antonio Samaranch participated in the closing ceremonies of the International Children's Games
  • The 32nd Summer Games held in Hamilton, Canada, the "Millennium Festival" from 01 - 07 June, 2000 where athletes from 69 cities and 29 countries participated in 9 different sports
  • The 35th Summer Games were held for the first time in Asia from August 30 - September 9, 2002 in Taipei, Taiwan
  • The 38th Summer Games were held for the first time in the United States of America, with President Bush greeting the more than 3,000 participants from 130 cities out of 53 countries. 10 different sports were offered in Cleveland, Ohio from July 28 - August 2, 2004
  • The 5th Winter Games were held for the first time in Kelowna/Canada January 26-31, 2011 with more than 500 athletes.
  • The 48th Summer Games were held for the first time in Lake Macquarie/Australia December 06-11, 2014.

It would be difficult to imagine the work of the International Children's Games Committee without the help and support of the International Olympic Committee. It is because of this that we would like to express to the International Olympic Committee with great recognition our sincere thanks for their splendid support and help for the International Children's Games

All IOC-Presidents were of great importance for the International Children´s Games. They encourage and support our movement from the first day. We express our sincere gratitude and appreciation to the International Olympic Committee.

I would like to thank all Committee members for their effort and work and hope for future critical and positive engagement.

More than four decades have passed since the Founding of our Games and we have proved the unique and great success of our movement! For this reason, high praise, respect and recognition are due!

However, we must always look toward the future: Based on the solid foundation of the work already achieved, there should be no worry that in the future the idea and ideals of the Children's Games will continue to have stability and continue to develop.

I have no worries about the International Children's Games, and in the mutual ambition for the realization of successful games, we must work in solidarity to strengthen and develop the organization of our movement.

The International Children's Games are already well known around the world. Everybody, who wants to collaborate in the future towards continuation and spreading of this idea and ideals, is warmly invited into our big family of the International Children's Games.

Finally, it should be emphasized that we work on behalf of children around the world and that is how it will remain in future.

Torsten Rasch

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