Olympic Values: Excellence, Friendship, Respect!

Do you dream of one day taking part in the Olympic Games or Youth Olympic Games? But what do you really know about the Olympic values which lie at the heart of these events?

What do those values mean for you? How do you experience them in your everyday life? 

Here’s what various champions and great personnalities have to say on the subject:

Friendships born on the field of athletic strife are the real gold of competition. Awards become corroded, friends gather no dust.

Jesse Owens

1913 – 1980

Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.

Nelson Mandela

1918 – 2013

Once you are a young Olympian, it’s not your choice whether you are a role model or you’re not. You are a role model.

Kaveh Mehrabi 


The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.

Pierre de Coubertin

1863 – 1937

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion. The potential for greatness lives within each of us.

Wilma Rudolph

1940 – 1994

Anything is possible, no matter how big the goal or how big the dream.

Michael Phelps


The important thing is that you feel that you have achieved your goals, not the goals of other people surrounding you.

Pernilla Wiberg


To become a real champion, surely it’s about respecting these values on and off the field of play…

The Olympic values are those of any athlete who works hard to achieve their dream. That’s why, during the ceremony at the start of each edition of the Olympic Games or Youth Olympic Games, an athlete is chosen to take the Olympic oath on behalf of all the other athletes. They promise to respect the rules, their opponents, the judges, their bodies, etc.

Great champions live by example both on and off the field of play, and they uphold these values throughout their lives. If you want to find out more about this, check out the IOC online course: “Competing with Integrity”.

You too can become a real champion thanks to your good results without cheating, but also because you want to give back something of what sport has given you, and help to make the world a better place through sport. Other Olympians have decided to get involved, inspire other young people and make an impACT! Get inspired here and tell us about your own impACT at yogteam@olympic.org.


If you want to talk about the Olympic values

Olympic journey

If you want to see what an Olympic journey can look like


If you want to make an impact too, get inspiration from what’s being done around the world


Learn more about Olympism as a powerful tool to benefit society


If you want to find out more about this topic, check out the “Competing with integrity”online course via the IOC’s Athletes Learning Gateway.