Welcome to the Official page of the Presidency of the Portuguese Republic

Note on navigating with support technologies

On this page you will find two navigation aids: a search engine (shortcut key 1) | Skip to content (shortcut key 2)
Audiência com o Presidente Eleito Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Audiência com o Presidente Eleito Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Palácio de Belém, 28 de janeiro de 2016 see more: Audiência com o Presidente Eleito Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa


Click here to reduce font size| Click here to increase font size
Speech by the President of the Republic at the Homage Ceremony to National Sports
Lisbon, 27 May 2015

The film we have just viewed showed us some of the most outstanding moments of sports in Portugal.

When promoting this homage to Portuguese Sports, I also wanted this to be an outstanding day, which would remain in our memory as a unique initiative and with which, whilst President of the Republic, I wanted to publicly express to national sportspersons the recognition of the Portuguese people for their extraordinary achievements.

These achievements have been notable throughout decades. We bring together today, in this historic building, a number of extraordinary athletes that were awarded medals in the Olympic and Paralympic Games and who will be decorated due to their merits both as sportspersons and as examples of personal attributes.

Verily, what distinguishes exceptional sportspersons is, in addition to talent, their intrinsic strength. To achieve so many and expressive victories, those we are honouring today had to strive greatly, to work intensively. They had, above all, to trust themselves and their capabilities. They had, in short, the bravery that is proper to victors.

In this sense, sportspeople are an example that should motivate the Portuguese, instilling in them spirit and confidence, fundamental traits in this new stage of a Country that has been through one of the most complex crisis in its recent History.

A word of greeting is also due to those who do not often appear in public, but without whom the achieved victories would not have been possible. I am referring, of course, to the leaders of the federations and associations, to the coaches, the technical and support personnel, the staff of the sports organizations. Without them, without their discrete work and their dedication, it would not have been possible to achieve the results which we are celebrating today. I allow myself to stress the actions of the Olympic and Paralympic Committees, who will also be awarded decorations today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We can find signs of the practice of games and sports in Portugal since remote times, which go back to the foundation of the Nation and to the Middle Ages.

However, in our country – and similarly to what has been the case in other European nations - , what is known as – sports forming process – only started becoming more defined towards the end of the 19th century.

Since then, the practice of sports went through deep changes. Amongst these, the democratization of sports should be underlined. What had been, for a long time, the privilege of a few élites, quickly became accessible to the general public. Predominant, in the beginning, was the leisure feature of sports and only more recently has it become considered as an essential component for individual health and wellbeing.

Simultaneously, some sports have become a mass phenomenon, attracting millions of spectators all over the world. Radio and television and, in our time, the Internet and the new technologies have provided a decisive contribution for the dissemination of sports on a worldwide basis.

For some, the massification and, above all, some merchandising of the sports phenomenon may awake negative feelings. We should, however, consider that sports, just as almost all human activities, are currently placed in the midst of huge global competitiveness. What is fundamental, in this regard, is that the market rationale does not place at issue the purity of the ideals that inspire the practice of sports.

In this particular sense, the Olympiads are a reference of humanism and the safeguard of sports ethics. I greet with much emotion our Olympic and Paralympic athletes. And, with respect to the Paralympic athletes, I want to leave a special greeting. Not because they are «different» or deserving of a discriminate treatment to that of the remaining athletes. On the contrary: what must be underlined in the practice of sports by disabled people is above all the fact that it targets exactly the same objectives and pursues identical aims as to the sports practiced by the other athletes.

There are no differences between them, except those that naturally result from the need to answer the particular demands of some sportspersons. The spirit of self-improvement and the ambition to win are totally identical, which shows that sports are more, much more than a tool for inclusion. Sports are a territory where there are no borders or barriers or, better said that we are all the same in our differences. It is difficult to find an area of human activity where this equality in difference is so respected as in the practice of sports.

Amongst the several changes that have occurred in sports, we can also emphasize the emergence of new types and, in particular, types for which our Country has privileged conditions for those to be practiced. In this context we must not ignore the importance of sports for Portugal’s tourist attractiveness and for the disclosure of its external image. Sport encompasses a material component and its potential contribution both for the economic activity and for the human development of a nation cannot be slighted.

Not to be slighted, equally, is the importance of sport for the adoption for healthy habits and lifestyles. Also in this respect sport discloses its integrating dimension: the positive effects on people’s health come about in all ages and in all socioeconomic levels.

Portugal has unique conditions for the practice of almost all types of sports, and I allow myself to emphasize those related to the sea. This is one of the Country’s strategic assets, from which we should know how to obtain advantages in keeping with a sustainable environment.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have referred several objective reasons for the tribute we are paying today to be an act of absolute justice.

I could add a subjective, personal, reason: I was a driven and strenuous sportsperson, I took part in several competitions, and nowadays I still try to keep fit and follow with pride and enthusiasm, I confess, the triumphs that, in the most diverse types, our athletes are conquering around the world.

I am thus greatly pleased to be facing sportspersons of excellence, who achieved notable triumphs, and want to thank you all for your presence.

This is a special day,

This Tribute to National Sports is a totally novel initiative, which should have been carried out long ago. I feel very gratified in having promoted it since sports are, above all, a synonym of vitality and happiness.

Thank you very much

© 2006-2016 Presidency of the Portuguese Republic

You have gained access to the records of the Official Site of the Presidency of the Republic from 9 March 2006 to 9 March 2016.

The contents available here were entered in the site during the 10 year period covering the two mandates of President of the Republic Aníbal Cavaco Silva.