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Varna 1973

  © 1973 / International Olympic Committee

The modern era of the Olympic Congress began in 1973 in Varna, Bulgaria, which was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its NOC. Lord Killanin, who had succeeded Avery Brundage as IOC President the previous year, presided over the Congress and directed the meetings with skill and dignity. Many NOCs and all Ifs were given the floor on equal terms and the delegates lived up to Killanin’s call to make the Congress not a forum for open attacks but sensible suggestion.

Springboard for new rule
Rethinking the idea of amateurism was at the centre of discussion, as it had been at practically all Congresses since 1894, but discussions at the Varna Congress were the springboard for the new rule which authorized financial assistance for elite level training. Within 20 years the Olympics were fully open to professionals.

‘Dream Team’
To understand the magnitude of this change you only have to think of the American “Dream Team” featuring basketball professionals such as Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Michael Jordan. Their victory in Barcelona in 1992 passed straight into Olympic folklore. And tennis, excluded from the Games since 1924, returned as a full medal sport open to professionals in 1988 when Steffi Graf became the first and only player to win the "Golden Slam" by adding the Olympic title to her four Grand Slam singles titles that year.
 

  © 1973 / International Olympic Committee