The Olympic Congress returned to Paris in 1906 for what Pierre de Coubertin described as an “Advisory Conference”. Having addressed the issue of education, the founder of the modern Olympics now turned his attention to the arts and more than half of the 60 or so invited delegates were artists of one kind or another. Among them were famous writers, sculptors, architects and painters, plus a number of actors from the Comédie Française which was hosting the event.
Link between art and the Olympics
Coubertin’s intention was to re-establish the link between art and the Olympics. “In the high times of Olympia,” he wrote, “the fine arts were combined harmoniously with the Olympic Games to create their glory. This is to become reality once again.” The different genres of art listed in the programme, namely architecture, theatre, dance, decoration, literature, music, painting and sculpture were all discussed.
The most significant recommendation of the Congress related to the introduction of competitions in architecture, sculpture, painting, literature and music at future Olympic Games, something which began at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm and lasted in one form or another until 1948. The “Advisory Conference” had thus fulfilled its main purpose and Coubertin himself was in no doubt about its value. Comparing its date with the date when the modern Olympics were effectively revived during the first Olympic Congress, he wrote: “The 26 May 1906 will assume an outstanding place among the important dates of history; it will be ranked immediately after 23 June 1894.”