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When he announced in Paris, on a winter's evening in 1892, the forthcoming re-establishment of the Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin was applauded, but nobody at the time imagined the scale of the project entailed by reviving the ancient Olympic Games, appointing a committee in charge of organising them and creating an international movement. The IOC was created on 23 June 1894; the 1st Olympic Games of the modern era opened in Athens on 6 April 1896; and the Olympic Movement has not stopped growing ever since. The Olympic Movement encompasses organisations, athletes and other persons who agree to be guided by the principles of the Olympic Charter. Its composition and general organisation are governed by Chapter 1 of the Charter. The Movement comprises three main constituents:
The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination of any kind, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
The Olympic Movement is defined also by the numerous activities in which it engages, such as:
The Olympic Charter is the codification of the Fundamental Principles, Rules and Bye-laws adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It governs the organisation and running of the Olympic Movement and sets the conditions for the celebration of the Olympic Games.
Full text of the Olympic Charter
"Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles."
Olympic Charter, Fundamental principles, paragraph 1
The members are volunteers who represent the IOC and Olympic Movement in their country (they are not delegates of their country within the IOC).
New members are elected by the IOC Session. Each candidature file is analysed by the IOC Nominations Commission, then forwarded to the Executive Board. The latter submits its proposals to the Session, which elects new members by secret ballot.
Since 12 December 1999, the number of members has been limited to 115, which includes a maximum of 70 individual members, 15 active athletes, 15 representatives of the IFs, and 15 representatives of the NOCs.
The term of office of members is unlimited for members elected before 1966. An age limit has been set at 80 for the members elected between 1967 and 1999, and at 70 for those whose election took place after 1999.
Click here to see the list of all IOC members
The President represents the IOC and presides over all its activities. He is elected by the Session. The members vote in a secret ballot. In the past unlimited, the length of the President’s term of office is now fixed at eight years (entered into force 12 December 1999), renewable once for four years. Rule 20 of the Olympic Charter defines the role of the President, particularly his or her representation function.
Thomas Bach was born on 29 December 1953 in Würzburg, Germany. Married and a lawyer by profession, he has had a successful career in sports both on and off the field of play. He became an Olympic champion when he won a gold medal in fencing (team foil) at the Games of the XXI Olympiad in Montreal in 1976 and in 2006, he was named as the founding President of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB).
Thomas Bach was an athletes’ representative at the XI Olympic Congress in Baden-Baden (1981) and a founding member of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission. He became an IOC member in 1991, was elected as a member of the IOC Executive Board in 1996 and served as an IOC Vice-President for more than 10 years. He has also chaired several IOC Commissions.
On 10 September 2013, Thomas Bach was elected as the ninth President of the IOC.
Born on 2 May 1942 in Ghent, Belgium, Jacques Rogge is married and has two children. By profession, he is an orthopaedic surgeon. In the course of his sports career, he competed in the yachting competitions at the Games of the Olympiad in Mexico in 1968, Munich in 1972 and Montreal in 1976. He was also a member of the Belgian national rugby team. Jacques Rogge served as President of the Belgian National Olympic Committee from 1989 to 1992. He became President of the European Olympic Committees in 1989, IOC member in 1991 and Executive Board member in 1998. Jacques Rogge was the eighth IOC President, elected on 16 July 2001 at the 112th IOC Session in Moscow.
Seventh President of the International Olympic Committee, Juan Antonio Samaranch was born on 17 July 1920 in Barcelona (Spain). An industrialist and President of the "Diputación" of his home province, his ascension to the zenith of the Olympic Movement began by the unusual path of roller-skating: he led the Spanish team to the world title.
Elected as an IOC member in 1966, then Chief of Protocol in 1968, his qualities as an untiring worker were soon put to use within various commissions. In 1970, he became a member of the Executive Board, and Vice-President of the IOC from 1974 to 1978. In 1977, Spain restored diplomatic relations with the USSR and Juan Antonio Samaranch was appointed Ambassador to Moscow (1977-1980). He returned to the Executive Board in 1979, as Chief of Protocol. Elected to the presidency of the IOC in the first ballot on 16 July 1980, he succeeded Lord Killanin whose career terminated with the extinction of the Olympic flame on 3 August 1980.
From the time he took up office, he tried to give a new direction to the Olympic Movement which was badly shaken by the political difficulties of the XXII Olympiad, and undertook a long voyage around the world to establish numerous contacts with Heads of State and sports leaders and to defend the Olympic cause. He secured the IOC's status as an international non-governmental organisation and restructured its finances (television rights, sponsorship programmes). He kept the Olympic flame alive during the crisis years of boycotts (Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984). It was through his efforts that the Olympic Museum was built in Lausanne (1993).
When the IOC found itself in crisis, because of abuses of trust by some of its members, he undertook major reforms to the structure of the institution. Mr Samaranch's mandate ended on 16 July 2001, in Moscow, where he was elected Honorary President. Juan Antonio Samaranch died on April 21st, 2010.
Lord Killanin was born in London, England, on 30 July 1914. During his youth at Eton and later at Magdalene College (Cambridge), he was an accomplished sportsman, taking part in competitions particularly as a boxer, oarsman and rider. A famous journalist on Fleet Street, where he wrote for renowned daily newspapers and magazines, from the age of 22 he experienced enormous success, especially as a war correspondent in China. Enlisted as a volunteer in the British Army for the length of the Second World War, he took part in the Allied landing in Normandy.
When he became an IOC member in 1952, he had already headed the Olympic Council of Ireland for two years. Without benefiting from a personal fortune and without ever sacrificing his ideas, passions and major tasks as a leader, he succeeded over the years in forging a comfortable family life as a director or board member of several large companies.
At the same time, he became not only the producer but also the chief adviser of many successful films, including "The Quiet Man", on which he worked with his long-standing friend, John Ford. For eight years, he acted as President of the International Olympic Committee during an extremely difficult period, and was later unanimously elected Honorary Life President. Lord Killanin died in April 1999.
Born in Detroit, Michigan (USA), on 28 September 1887, Mr Avery Brundage graduated from the University of Illinois in 1909 with a degree in civil engineering, magna cum laude. In addition to being a brilliant student, he distinguished himself in athletics. Without neglecting his sports career, he then went into business and in 1915 founded the Avery Brundage Company Builders (1915-1947) which constructed a number of big buildings and skyscrapers around Chicago.
He represented his country at the Games of the V Olympiad in Stockholm in 1912, and was three times amateur all-round champion of the United States, a speciality similar to the decathlon. After retiring from active competition, he became interested in the administrative side of sport, occupying the posts of President of the Amateur Athletics Union of the United States (seven terms of office), President of the United States Olympic Committee for 25 years (1929-1953), President of the Pan-American Games Organisation (PASO), etc. After becoming a member of the IOC in 1936, and Vice-President in 1945, in 1952 he was elected President and watched over the destiny of the Olympic Movement until 1972 becoming Life Honorary President from 1972 to 1975. A great advocate of amateurism, he was the author of many articles on amateur sport and the Olympic Movement.
During his frequent journeys all over the world, Mr Avery Brundage amassed one of the finest and largest collections of Asian art in the world. Estimated to be worth 50 million dollars, this collection was donated to the City of San Francisco, which built a museum to house it in the famous Golden Gate Park.
Down through the years, Mr Avery Brundage received countless decorations and awards from different countries, towns and organisations wishing to express their appreciation and gratitude. Avery Brundage died on 8 May 1975, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.
J. Sigfrid Edström, born on 21 November 1870, was one of the best known personalities in the world of sport. While a student in Gothenburg (Sweden), Mr Edström went in for athletics and ran the 100m in 11 seconds. After some years in Zurich, where he attended the Federal Institute of Technology, he was entrusted with important tasks in the sports movement in Sweden.
In the international field, he was one of the organisers of the Olympic Games in Stockholm in 1912, and also participated in the 1908, 1920, 1924, 1928, 1932 and 1936 Games as head of the Swedish delegation. At the 1912 Olympic Games he took the lead in founding the International Amateur Athletics Federation and was elected its first President (1913), an office which he held until 1946.
In 1920 he was elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee in Sweden. One year later he was elected to the Executive Board of the IOC and then as Vice-President (1931-1946). In his capacity as Vice-President he became head of the International Olympic Committee in 1942, on the death of the President, Count de Baillet-Latour. All through the hostilities of the Second World War, since he lived in a neutral country, he managed to keep in contact with the members of the International Olympic Committee, and in 1945 convened the first post-war meeting of the Executive Board, which accepted the invitation from London and selected this city to stage the Games of the XIV Olympiad.
In 1946 he was elected President by acclamation at the first post-war meeting of the IOC in Lausanne. He retired in 1952 at the age of 82 with the title of Life Honorary President of the International Olympic Committee.
Count Henri de Baillet-Latour, born on 1 March 1876, was elected as a member of the International Olympic Committee in Belgium in 1903. One year later he founded the Belgian Olympic Committee which organised Belgian participation in the 1908 and 1912 Games.
After World War I he obtained the celebration of the Games of the VII Olympiad for Antwerp. Although he had only one year in which to prepare these Games, and in spite of the fact that Belgium had suffered badly from the war, Count de Baillet-Latour shouldered all the responsibilities and with great energy took up the management of this huge enterprise.
Among other qualities, the ability he demonstrated at the time of the Games in Antwerp led members of the International Olympic Committee to elect him President when the founder of the Games resigned in 1925. During his presidency, which lasted seventeen years, Count de Baillet-Latour devoted himself untiringly to maintaining the Olympic ideals and aims. He endeavoured continually to keep sport free from all commercialism, and to preserve its nobility and beauty, its "raison d'être". He aimed to acquire an informed personal opinion on all difficult questions and travelled widely throughout the world in order to achieve this object. He was determined, yet diplomatic, and led the Committee with great distinction.
He died on the night of 6 January 1942. A worthy successor to Baron de Coubertin, he will be remembered as a man of noble character, wholeheartedly devoted to the Olympic cause.
Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin was born on 1 January 1863 at 20, rue Oudinot in Paris (France). Very early in life he showed a liking for literature, history and the problems of education and sociology. Giving up the army, abandoning too the political career that was open to him at the age of 24, Pierre de Coubertin decided to launch a vast movement of educational reform, and at 25 his life work was started.
It is also to him that we owe all the organisation of the Olympic Games, which have benefited from his methodical and precise mind, and from his wide understanding of the aspirations and needs of young people. The Olympic Charter and Protocol, as well as the athletes' oath are his work, together with the ceremonial for the opening and closing of the Games. Furthermore, until 1925 he personally presided over the International Olympic Committee.
The title of Honorary President of the Olympic Games was bestowed on him in 1925 until his death in 1937. It was decided that no other President would ever be granted this honour again. The revival of the Olympic Games represents only a small part of Baron de Coubertin's work. Apart from numerous publications devoted to the technique and teaching of sport, he was the author of important historial, political and sociological studies. His works total over 60,000 pages.
He died on 2 September 1937 in Geneva (Switzerland) having spent his entire fortune on his ideals. He is considered one of the great men of the 20th century. In accordance with his last wishes, his heart was interred at Olympia (Greece), in the marble monument commemorating the revival of the Olympic Games.
The first President was Greek. He was born in Ermoupolis, on the island of Syros, on 15 February 1835. The Regulations drawn up by Pierre de Coubertin stipulated that the President of the International Olympic Committee should be chosen from the country where the next Games were to be held.
Mr Vikelas was thus President from 1894 to 1896. He had no particular connection with sport when he came from Greece to represent the Pan-Hellenic Gymnastic Club at the Congress in Paris in 1894. The original idea was to stage the first Games in Paris in 1900, but Mr Vikelas was able to convince the Committee that they should be held in Athens in May 1896.
After the conclusion of the first Games, he devoted himself to the promotion and popularisation of general education, which he claimed was urgently needed in Greece.
With his erudition to which we owe a scholarly work on "Byzantine and Modern Greece", he combined a fertile and whimsical imagination which gave us "Louki Laras" and "Tales from the Aegean". He died in Athens on 20 July 1908.
Created in 1921, the Executive Board (EB) is the executive organ of the IOC. The Executive Board sees to the management of IOC issues and ensures respect for the Olympic Charter. It is the only body competent to propose Charter modifications to the Session, submit names of persons it recommends for election and appoint the IOC Director General.
Originally composed of five members, the EB of today has 15: the IOC President, four Vice-Presidents and 10 members. The Vice-Presidents and members are elected by the Session in a secret ballot for a term of office of four years.
Click here for more information and for the current composition of the IOC Executive Board
Today, the IOC has 22 commissions which have the function of advising the President, EB and Session. There are also coordination commissions for each edition of the Olympic Games, as well as an evaluation commission for candidate cities. The commissions can be permanent or ad hoc.
The IOC President defines the mission of each commission and appoints its members. These are chosen according to their expertise in the commission’s area of activity. Only IOC members may chair a commission. Some of these commissions are mixed, including IOC members, representatives of the International Olympic Sports Federations and the National Olympic Committees, athletes, technical experts, advisers and sports specialists.
The mission of the IOC is to promote Olympism and to lead the Olympic Movement. According to the Olympic Charter, the role of the administration is the:
The administration of the IOC is placed under the responsibility of the Director General who, under the authority of the President, runs it with the assistance of the directors; the latter are at the head of small units responsible for dealing with business in their respective sectors of competence (Executive Office of the President, Office of the Director General, Office of the Deputy Director General (for Relations with the Olympic Movement), Olympic Games Department, Department of Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport, Department for Corporate Development, Brand and Sustainability, Finance Department, Sports Department, Technology and Information Department, Strategic Communications Department, IOC Television & Marketing Services SA, Legal Affairs Department, Medical and Scientific Department, Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage, Olympic Solidarity, Olympic Broadcasting Services SA, Olympic Channel Services S.A., Spokesman’s Services, Ethics and Compliance and Internal audit).