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 that reviving the ancient Olympic Games, appointing a committee in charge of organising them and creating an international movement would entail. The International Olympic Committee was created on 23 June 1894; the first Olympic Games of the modern era opened in Athens on 6 April 1896; and the Olympic Movement has not stopped growing ever since.
VISION AND MISSIONS OF THE OLYMPIC MOVEMENT
The visual ambassador of Olympism for billions of people is the Olympic symbol, widely known throughout the world as the Olympic rings.
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 of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
THE OLYMPIC MOVEMENT
The three main constituents of the Olympic Movement are the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”), the International Sports Federations (“IFs”) and the National Olympic Committees (“NOCs”).
In addition to its three main constituents, the Olympic Movement also encompasses the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs), the national associations, clubs and persons belonging to the IFs and NOCs, particularly the athletes, as well as the judges, referees, coaches and the other sports officials and technicians. It also includes other organisations and institutions as recognised by the IOC.
As is clearly stated in the Olympic Charter: “The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised in accordance with Olympism and its values.” (Olympic Charter, Chapter 1, Rule 1.1)
THE OLYMPIC CHARTER
The Olympic Charter is the codification of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism, Rules and Bye-laws adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It governs the organisation, action and operation of the Olympic Movement and sets forth the conditions for the celebration of the Olympic Games.
The Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter are based on a document written by Pierre de Coubertin in around 1898. The first edition was published in 1908 under the title “Annuaire du Comité International Olympique”. The Olympic Charter was later known by other names, including the “Olympic Rules”, before finally taking the name Olympic Charter in 1978.
THE INTERNATIONAL OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is a not-for-profit independent international organisation that is committed to building a better world through sport. Created on 23 June 1894, just under two years before the first Olympic Games of the modern era in April 1896, the IOC is the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement.
As the leader of the Olympic Movement, the IOC acts as a catalyst for collaboration between all parties of the Olympic family, from the NOCs, the IFs, the athletes and the OCOGs to the Worldwide Olympic Partners, broadcast partners and United Nations (UN) agencies, and shepherds success through a wide range of programmes and projects. On this basis, it ensures the regular celebration of the Olympic Games, supports all affiliated member organisations of the Olympic Movement and strongly encourages, by appropriate means, the promotion of the Olympic values.
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 Members Election 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.
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.
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.
The IOC Commissions 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:
- preparation, implementation and follow-up of decisions taken by the Session, Executive Board and President;
- preparation and follow-up of the work of all commissions; permanent liaison with the IFs, NOCs and OCOGs;
- coordination of preparation for all Olympic Games;
- organisation and preparation of other Olympic events;
- circulation of information within the Olympic Movement;
- advice to candidate cities;
- relations with many international governmental and non-governmental organisations dealing with, in particular, sport, education and culture;
- liaison with Olympic Solidarity and implementation of many other tasks of an ongoing or ad hoc nature assigned to it by the President and the Executive Board.
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 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).