The original invitation to what became the inaugural Olympic Congress, sent out by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in his capacity as secretary general of the Union of French Sports Associations, was entitled: “Reflections on and Propagation of the Principles of Amateurism”. However, by the time the official invitation cards were sent out the meeting was referred to as a “Congress on the Revival of the Olympic Games”. Thus, on June 16 1894, the first Olympic Congress was declared open in the auditorium of the Sorbonne University in Paris.
Nobel Prize winners
There were 58 French delegates representing 24 sports organizations and clubs, and another 20 delegates from Belgium, Great Britain & Ireland, Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain, Sweden and the USA representing 13 foreign sports federations. Of the 50 honorary members of the Congress there were no fewer than six future Nobel Peace Prize winners and the first performance of the Homeric Hymn to Apollo, which had been discovered in Delphi only the previous year, was the cultural highlight of the event.
Establishment of the IOC
Coubertin’s Olympic dream became a reality on June 23 when a resolution to revive the Olympic Games was adopted unanimously at the final meeting of the Congress. The Congress led to the establishment of the International Olympic Committee, of which Coubertin became general secretary and later president, and it was also proposed that the first modern Olympic Games would take place in Athens in 1896. Furthermore, a definition of amateurism was agreed upon and was the first step towards an international agreement.