The Newest Olympics Principle:
Jean-Michel Cousteau Selected as First-Ever Symbol of the Environment: Represents Newest 'Principle' of the Olympics at 19th Winter Games
(Salt Lake City, Utah, USA) Jean-Michel Cousteau made history tonight, becoming the first person to represent the environment in an Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. Cousteau joined seven other highly esteemed individuals, who personify inspiration, in carrying the Olympic Flag into the stadium in Salt Lake City, where it will fly as a symbol of the principles of the Olympic games, which include sport, culture, and most recently the environment.
"I am deeply honored to represent the third and newest principle of the Olympic Games: the Environment," said Cousteau. "Clean water, air, and biological diversity are our planet's legacy. I carry this Olympic Flag in recognition of every human being as well as for future generations whose birthright is a sustainable global environment."
The eight participating dignitaries, who represent the five continents symbolized in the Olympic Rings and the three tenets of the Olympics, included Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Africa), John Glenn (The Americas), Kazuyoshi Funaki (Asia), Lech Walesa (Europe), and Cathy Freeman (Oceania) Jean-Claude Killy (Sport), Steven Spielberg (Culture), and Jean-Michel Cousteau (Environment).
The Environment and the Olympic Games
The Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) is the first to incorporate protection and enhancement of the environment as a central goal of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee added environment to sport and culture as the third principle of the Olympics in 1994. Although other Winter Olympics have incorporated elements of environmental awareness and activities into their events, this is the first Winter Olympics to set a goal of zero emissions and zero waste.
The Legacy Continues
The son of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, Jean-Michel spent much of his life with his family exploring the world's oceans aboard the research vessels Calypso and Alcyone. After his mother's death in 1990 and his father's in 1997, Jean-Michel founded Ocean Futures Society in 1998 to carry on this pioneering work. Explorer, environmentalist, educator, and film producer: Jean-Michel serves as an impassioned, eloquent spokesman and diplomat for the environment, reaching out to the public through a variety of media. He has produced over 70 films, and been awarded the prestigious Peabody Award, the Ace Award, the 7 d'Or, the Cable Ace Awards, and the Emmy. Through Ocean Futures Society, Jean-Michel continues producing -more- 2-2-2 environmentally oriented family programs and television specials, public service announcements, multi-media programs for schools, books, articles for magazines and newspaper columns, and public lectures reaching millions of people all over the world.
Today, as President of Ocean Futures Society, Jean-Michel travels the globe educating young people, documenting stories of change and hope, and meeting with world leaders and policymakers, both at the grassroots level and the highest echelons of government and business, where his reputation of five decades helps energize alliances for positive change. Ocean Futures Society, a nonprofit marine conservation and education organization, serves as a 'Voice for the Ocean' by developing marine education programs, conducting research, and fostering a conservation ethic.
"I applaud the actions the Salt Lake Organizing Committee has taken to mitigate the environmental impacts of mounting the Olympic Games," said Cousteau. "This is an opportunity for all of us to understand and appreciate our connection to the natural world, especially the ocean, which is the cornerstone of life-support on our water planet. The health of the ocean and the health of our species are directly connected."
Olympic Dream Realized
As a young man, Jean-Michel dreamed of going to the Olympics as an athlete. While in high school he trained tirelessly for the 1500-meter event. Although he did not make the final round of three athletes who went on to represent France, he never gave up the passion that fueled his early Olympic efforts.
"Olympic athletes are the ambassadors of the sporting world, and I am honored to be in their midst," said Cousteau. "Today I have the privilege of serving as an Ambassador of the Environment helping people better understand their connection to the water, air and land on which our lives literally depend. People protect what they love, and we can only protect what we fully understand ."