As the end of 2016 approaches, it is time for me to bow out after 20 years of presidency. I do this with some nostalgia, but also with a certain pride at leaving my successor, Morinari Watanabe, the keys to what I consider to be a solid federation.
This is first and foremost because the International Gymnastics Federation now has 148 member federations. Our development and education policy has borne fruit, as we have seen at the World Championships and the Olympic Games, with new nations reaching the finals and competing for medals. In Rio, 16 different countries were represented on the podiums while many gymnasts made history for the sport in their country.
At the Olympics, Gymnastics once again provided a magnificent spectacle, thus consolidating its status as one of the great OIympic sports. As the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, pointed out at the last FIG Congress in Tokyo, none of this has come from nowhere. This is the result of all the reforms that we have achieved together.
If I were to mention just one, the establishment of a minimum age limit for participation in the World Championships is that which I hold most dear. Rules evolve over time, but we must never forget that protecting children and respecting their physical integrity must take precedence over everything else.
To my regret, however, I have not managed to pass a final reform of the statutes to protect the field of play from any conflict of interest. It is up to the new president to take this on now and make it clear that the FIG, like any other international federation, must comply with the IOC's requirements.
Gymnastics has a bright future, I'm sure. I would like to extend my best wishes to Morinari Watanabe in the role of President, a role that I have had the privilege and honour of fulfilling for twenty years, and to all the new FIG authorities who will lead the Federation over the next four years.
And to all of you, dear friends of Gymnastics, I extend my best wishes for the Festive season and wish you an excellent 2017!