On 23 June, millions of people – including athletes from all over the world – marked the 70th anniversary of Olympic Day, uniting under the Olympic values and promoting the benefits of sport by taking part in sporting, educational and cultural activities.
Events celebrating the 70th anniversary of Olympic Day took place in communities in every corner of the globe, but nowhere was the message felt more strongly than on the Korean peninsula.
Delegations from the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) met with IOC President Thomas Bach in Lausanne in a show of solidarity, while Olympic athletes from both countries, as well as from Japan and China, took part in an exhibition mixed doubles table tennis match to promote peace and continued dialogue. Among the eight participants were Chinese Olympic champions Ding Ning and Ma Long, IOC Athletes’ Commission member Seung Min Ryu, and Song I Kim, an Olympic medallist for DPRK at Rio 2016.
Benefits on the field and off it
Olympic Day encourages people everywhere to get active, but also highlights the power sport has to address social issues. In Cape Verde, more than 6,000 people got involved with various sports activities hosted by Olympians, but environmental concerns were also high on the agenda with tree planting, beach tidying and rubbish collecting activities run alongside them.
Elsewhere, in a demonstration of the power of sport to unite and bring together diverse communities, indigenous runners from 20 communities across Australia joined former world marathon champion Robert de Castella in a fun run at the base of the famous Uluru rock.
Meanwhile, the United States Olympic Committee opened up its training centre in Olympic City, Colorado, to welcome hundreds of people from across the state. Gender equality was of particular importance, with young girls being inspired by Olympic silver medal-winning bobsledder Lauren Gibbs and getting the chance to learn about modern pentathlon, gymnastics and sitting volleyball.
Looking to the future
The day was also an opportunity to celebrate what’s ahead. In Japan, host country of the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games, eight cities hosted Olympic Day runs, while the next Winter Games hosts marked the occasion with a commemorative walk at the Beijing 2022 headquarters.
In Paris, host city of the 2024 Games, open access sports activities were held throughout the day. Olympians took part in demonstrations at the foot of Paris city hall – including a spectacular display from pole-vaulter Renaud Lavillenie – while a 2,024m night race ended at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, one of 24 similar events that took place across the country.
In another nod to the future, 11 Olympians gathered in Rome in the lead-up to Olympic Day to be trained as Athlete Career Programme Educators – enabling them to help fellow athletes with the transition to life after sport and contribute to the IOC’s widespread career support for athletes.
United by Olympism
Finally, athletes from different training centres all over the world took to social media using the hashtags #UnitedBy and #OlympicDay to send a virtual ‘high five’ to other members of the global athlete community, while some even got involved with the Olympic Day Dance.
The values of Olympism are relevant 365 days a year, and you can still join the campaign – which runs until the inaugural Olympism in Action Forum in October – by sharing your own favourite Olympic stories using the #UnitedBy hashtag.