Sport. Movement. Freedom. How we've missed moments like this in recent months! So it's even more of a pleasure for me to be here with you at your sports camp today – on the eve of 1 August.
Dear Mr. Director of the Sports Centre, dear Bixio Caprara
Dear Head of the Youth of the Swiss Fencing Team, Franco Cerutti
Dear camp manager of the Bernese Athletics Association, Christian Rindlisbach
Dear Mr Ueli Lüscher, so committed to helping the least privileged families
Dear young sportsmen and sportswomen
Ladies and Gentlemen
To see you all here in front of me, to watch you train, fills me with pride and confidence. Your enjoyment of the game, your need to be active – to me you stand for a Switzerland in movement, you represent the excitement of a country looking to the future after a long period in lockdown.
You work hard every single day. Your drive and ambition as you train for the competitions of tomorrow is what distinguishes you as sportspeople. The same drive and ambition distinguishes us as a country.
There's a well-known fable, the one about the ants and the grasshopper. The ants work hard to collect food all summer long, while the grasshopper lies comfortably in the grass. The grasshopper doesn't understand why it should work so hard on such a beautiful summer day. After all, there's enough food for everyone. But the ants know that winter will come and that food will be scarce. Only those who prepare well in summer will have enough to eat on the coldest winter day.
What is the moral of this story? You have to work hard today if you want to be successful tomorrow. That's why you don't spend the whole summer at the pool, and are spending some of your break at the sports camp here in Tenero.
The current COVID pandemic has shown how quickly and unpredictably a crisis can affect us all. Fortunately, like those ants, Switzerland is a country of hard-workers. And of passionate sportspeople – you set a good example and show how important it is to be well-prepared physically and mentally.
Just as important are friendship and team spirit. Look around you: you're surrounded by people who support you, inspire you and have fun with you – they are your training partners, opponents and friends. They are the ones who keep you going, especially when things are difficult. A tough training session is that little bit easier if there's someone there to cheer you on.
In recent months, I've seen from my contact with Switzerland's neighbouring countries how important close friends are when things gets tough. When we had partially closed our borders – that was when I had the most contact with our neighbouring countries by phone and videoconference.
But good relationships are not only important in hard times. For an export nation like Switzerland, the countries of Europe are also of great economic importance. After all, much of what we produce in Switzerland we sell to other countries.
Think of it like pocket money: 20 francs. If Switzerland has an allowance of 20 francs – if this is the Swiss economy – we earn 10 francs of that from other countries. And of these 10 francs, 6 francs come from the EU. In other words, good relations with the other countries of Europe are not only important because we need to stick together, they are also crucial for Switzerland's prosperity. Without them we would have much less money. So it's a good idea to maintain our relationships during the good times, and not to decide to go it alone, especially in these uncertain times. The popular vote on 27 September on the Limitation Initiative is important if we are to be able to continue along this proven path in the future.
What you are doing at your sports camp is just like what we in Switzerland do as a country. We stay fit in body and mind, we cement friendships, and we exchange what we have and what we know – so that – together – we are prepared for the challenges of the future. And that is effort! And effort is worth it! Switzerland's success depends on the efforts of its inhabitants. The accomplishments of our parents and grandparents have shaped this success.
Switzerland is on the move, because we are on the move. Let's use this drive, this dynamism and this passion. I wish you a wonderful 1 August and above all a great end to your sports camp – keep moving!