The beginning of Olympic Games

Since the beginning of Olympic Games’ history, the international composition of the IOC reflected Coubertin’s universal ambitions with the Olympic Movement. He foresaw that the IOC would maintain a group of individuals that self-recruited new members who could contribute to the global development of the Olympic Movement. According to Coubertin, the IOC members needed to be politically independent, could afford their own travel expenses to IOC meetings and had a respected social status within their countries. As a consequence, the IOC membership mainly consisted of individuals with a European, aristocratic background during the first two decades of its existence. There were a few exceptions: Cuff from New Zealand was amongst the first IOC members in 1894 and represented Australasia, in 1909 Japanese educator Kano Jigoro became the first IOC member from Asia, and in 1910 the Greek Angelo Bolanaki, who also had an Egyptian passport, became the first African IOC member.The first regulations on the recruitment of IOC members appear in the first Olympic Charter, published in 1908. Therein, the self-recruiting process is determined and the independence of each member is emphasised. The presidential term was set for 10 years with the possibility of re-election. Coubertin essentially ran the organisation by himself in collaboration with the respective departments established in the respective host cities for the organisation of the Olympic Games.More information: coubertin.org/pierre-de-coubertin/.

PHOTO: Olympic Charter 1908 (CIPC).

Coubertin Office

In 1915, Pierre de Coubertin undertook an important and pioneering administrative step by moving the bureaucratic organization of the IOC from his home in Paris to Lausanne, Switzerland, in an attempt to protect the neutrality of the Olympic Movement during the War. In April 1915 the mayor and the municipality of Lausanne welcomed this transfer and organized a small reception in the presence of Coubertin and Godefroy de Blonay who was member of the IOC in Switzerland from 1899 to 1937. The municipality offered Coubertin a room in the Casino of Montbenon as the IOC headquarter. From 1915 till 1922 Coubertin still worked from his home in Paris and stayed in a hotel when he was in Lausanne. In 1922 Coubertin left Paris permanently and moved to Lausanne with his family. In the following year he accepted the offer from the municipality to move into an apartment in the Villa Mon-Repos.The villa, which is the office of Olympic Solidarity today, became the new headquarter of the IOC, together with the first Olympic Museum.More information: coubertin.org/.

PHOTO: Restitution of Coubertin`s office in the Villa Mon-Repos (CIPC).

Legacy of Pierre de Coubertin

The CIPC has been working on projects with the proposal of maintaining the legacy of Pierre de Coubertin, as well as his Olympic idea and, also, bringing people more knowledge about the history of the CIPC. Because of that, we have a project which objective is a Lecture Series on Pierre de Coubertin and the Meaning of his Olympic Idea Today.Students of sport and physical education are relevant target groups that have the ability to shape the future mission and correct understanding of sport within society. This is also important for establishing the correct public perception of the Olympic Movement. However, for this to be achieved students must form a multidisciplinary knowledge base, in order to be able to analyze and promote the values of the Olympic Movement. It is often the case that in lectures on the Olympic Movement, dissemination of knowledge is limited due to curricular specifications. Teaching units on Pierre de Coubertin and above all on the relevance of a modern understanding of his ideas are often omitted. Consequently, the CIPC could provide a solution by offering expert-guided lectures on Pierre de Coubertin and a modern understanding of his principles of Olympism. This would greatly improve the expansion of knowledge on the Olympic Movement. The lectures could be offered to universities as extracurricular activities in sport and physical education departments.

PHOTO: Pierre de Coubertin at the age of 31 (CIPC).To know more about this project and others, visit: http://www.coubertin.org/projects/.

Olympic Institute Lausanne

Olympic Institute Lausanne. In order to support the establishment of sport centres Pierre de Coubertin founded ´The Olympic Institute´ in Lausanne in the in the winter of 1916/17. Its aim was not only to propagate the idea of communal sport centres, but to serve as a best practice example at the same time. Its motto was mens fervida in corpore lacertoso.The first workshop with theoretical lessons and physical activities took place in spring 1917. The target group consisted of French and Belgian military detainees. Unfortunately, the Olympic Institute did not survive the end the First World War. It was the only initiative of that kind.Other municipalities than the one in Lausanne were not open for this project idea and in many cases did not even consider it in discussions. Probably because of this negative result, once again Coubertin tried to promote the idea of the revival of the ancient gymnasium. He did it at the 8th Olympic Congress which was held in Prague from 29th May to 4th June 1925. It was the last Olympic Congress under Coubertin’s presidency. Actually, the gathering in Prague consisted of two separate congress. One was announced as the ´Technical Olympic Congress´ and the second one as ´Pedagogical Olympic Congress´. As to the latter, the programme contained nine topics of which the fifth topic was dealing with the revival of the ancient gymnasium. But again, no practical initiatives were taken up to support the re-launch of the concept.More information: coubertin.org/.

PHOTO: Teachers and participants of the first workshop in 1917 (CIPC).

Pierre de Coubertin chose education as a way to contribute to France’s growth

Pierre de Coubertin chose education as a way to contribute to France’s growth. His starting point was the introduction of sport in high schools, which developed, in general analysis, essentially contesting the educational system as a whole.Youth, therefore, represented most of Coubertin’s work, since his proposals were based on his pedagogical concerns. The Baron’s devotion to this youth encouraged him fervently until the last years of his life.A text from his early years of study contextualizes the chain of his ideas in an objective way: “I will harden the bodies and the character of weak and introverted youth through the inherent risks even the excesses of sport. I will enlarge their vision and their understanding through contact with the great astrological, planetary, and historical horizons, especially that of universal history, which, by creating mutual respect, will become a catalyst for a practical international peace. And all of that for everyone, without distinctions of birth, caste, fortune, position, or profession”.More information: coubertin.org/.

PHOTO: Pierre de Coubertin dressed in a sports kit (CIPC).

City of Lausanne

Did you know? 83 years ago, on june 1937, the City of Lausanne, having initially adjourned the decision in 1932, granted to Pierre de Coubertin the honorary citizenship.In 1964, with a year’s delay, the France Government celebrated the centenary of his birth at the Sorbonne, and 30 years later Avenue Pierre de Coubertin was inaugurated near the Porte de Gentilly, alongside the Maison du sport français and Charléty stadium, in his native city, Paris.More information: coubertin.org.Photo: Pierre de Coubertin, aged seventy (CIPC).

[Universal Pedagogical Union

In Prague 1925, Pierre de Coubertin stepped down as the active president of the International Olympic Committee. In his speech on 29th May which was both a farewell message and focused on the future, he stated that “the future of civilization […] depends solely on the educational direction that emerges. […] The time has come to construct a pedagogical edifice […] appropriate […] to current needs.” On 15th November (at the age of 62), he launched the Union Pédagogique Universelle [Universal Pedagogical Union], returning to his initial vocation of 1886.More information: coubertin.org.Photo: Farewell letter from the IOC President, Pierre de Coubertin, to all members, in which he announces the transmission of his official obligations to his successor, Henri Baillet-Latour, in September 1925 (International Pierre de Coubertin Committee).

Open the doors to the temple!

The conflicts generated by the First World War caused Pierre Coubertin to further increase his vision for all classes of society and the importance of history at all times in life. For him “History’s admiration will now go to the mass of obscure combatants”.In another quote, Coubertin talks about the future: “nothing will be decided without popular consente […] I expect great things of the working classes; great strength lies within them”. He even criticised the well-to-do classes for having systematically kept the proletariat away from culture: “Open the doors to the temple!” he said in 1918, “for the sake of the future of humanity”.Photo: From 1905 onwards, Coubertin used this postal value with mottos of the popular sport campaign very often (International Pierre de Coubertin Committee).

Association pour la réforme de l’enseignement scolaire en France

In 1906, Pierre de Coubertin created the “l’Association pour la réforme de l’enseignement” (Association for teaching reform), thus reorganising the “Association pour la réforme de l’enseignement scolaire en France” (Association for the reform of school teaching in France), which he launched in 1889. Education was always the guiding thread of his activities, and the Olympic Games themselves made no sense to him unless they were seen as a predominantly educational process.More information: coubertin.org/.Foto: Pierre de Coubertin (International Pierre de Coubertin Committee).

Union of French running associations

In May 1888, Pierre de Coubertin joined the pioneers of French athletics, notably Georges de Saint-Clair (Racing Club) and Jules Marcadet (Stade Français), who founded the Union des Sociétés Françaises de course à pied [Union of French running associations] on 18th January 1887. Two years later, it became known as the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA) [Union of French Athletics Sports Associations]. Coubertin was its extremely active secretary general from 1890 to 1893.More information: coubertin.org.Photo: Program of the Fifth Anniversary Celebrations of the Union of French Athletics Sports Associations (USFSA – Union des Societés Françaises des Sports Athlétiques) in 1892 (International Pierre de Coubertin Committee).

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