My research essay is on the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”). I have chosen this topic because I am passionate about sports. In fact one of the sports I compete in is Freestyle Wresting which is an Olympic Sport. The IOC was founded by Pierre de Couberton on June 23, 1894 and the first modern Olympic Games opened two years later in Athens on April 6, 1896 (International Olympic Committee, 2019). The IOC is based in Geneva, Switzerland. Before the existence of the modern Olympic Games the ancient Games were held in Olympia, Greece, from 776 BC through 393 AD (Penn Museum). Eventually after 1503 years the ancient Games became the Olympic Games in 1896.
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In order to explain what the IOC is, it is important to understand some of the structure that surrounds the Olympics. The Olympic Movement is comprised of three main partners, the IOC, the International Sports Federations (“IFs”) and the National Olympic Committees (“NOCs”). 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” (International Olympic Committee, 2019). The IOC is the leader of the Olympic Movement. It is a not-for-profit independent international organisation that is “committed to building a better world through sport” (International Olympic Committee, 2019). It is made up of volunteers and is led by a President. The current President of the IOC is Jacques Rogge, Belgium, since 2001.
The vision of the IOC to “build a better world through sport” (International Olympic Committee, 2019). The values it stands by are “excellence, respect and friendship” (International Olympic Committee, 2019). The IOC believes in “universality and solidarity, unity in diversity, autonomy and good governance and sustainability” (International Olympic Committee, 2019). It’s main mission is to “promote sport and the Olympic values in society, with a focus on young people” (International Olympic Committee, 2019).
There are many significant events that have happened over the course of time in the Olympics. Not all of these events are associated with great sporting success. Some have political, cultural and social economic significance. I have chosen three events that I believe are unique and significant. The first unique event is in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris. In these games the world witnessed for the first time the participation of women in the Olympic Games. Women were only allowed to compete in five events, tennis, sailing, croquet, equestrianism and golf in these games. Of the 997 athletes, 22 were women (World Economic Forum, 2016). In the 2012 Games in London, women for the first time ever competed in all registered events. The second unique event is the 1936 Summer Olympics in Nazi Germany. In those Games, Adolf Hitler was determined to demonstrate the superiority of the Aryan nation. Unfortunately for Hitler, and more fortunate for the rest of human kind a black American athlete named Jesse Owens demonstrated his superiority and won four Olympic gold medals, 100 meters, 200 meters, the 4*100 meter relay and the long jump (World Economic Forum, 2016). More significant than this, German athlete Carl Ludwig Long, who finished second in one event, showed great courage by walking arm-in-arm with Jesse Owens to receive their medals in front of Hitler. In this example, the world stood up to racism via sport and Jesse Owens. The last unique event was in the 1972 Games in Munich Germany. Built on the founding principles of cooperation, friendship, solidarity, unity and respect, these games tested those principles and devastated relations between nations, when 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team and a German policeman, were murdered by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September (World Economic Forum, 2016). This occurrence created a black mark in the history of the Games, one that will never be forgotten.
Canada’s first IOC member was Colonel John Hanbury-Williams in 1911 (International Olympic Committee, 2019). Currently there are two Canadians that serve on the IOC, Mr. Richard W. Pound and Ms. Hayley Wickenheiser. Mr. Pound has been a member since 1978 and Ms. Wickenheiser since 2014. Mr. Pound participated in the Olympics in 1960 in Swimming and Ms. Wickenheiser participated in Ice Hockey 1998-2014 and Softball in 2000 (International Olympic Committee, 2019). The IOC has had a profound impact on Canada through the actual Olympic Games. The first time the Olympics was hosted in Canada was in 1976, in Montreal. The Games were a failure from a financial perspective (Readers Digest), yet they did inspire a future generation of Olympians. The Montreal Olympics acted as a catalyst for all Canadian athletes. In 1988 the Winter Olympics were hosted by Calgary. Calgary went from being a small town to being put on the map from a worlds perspective. Those Games will also be remembered for launching the career of lively characters like the Jamaican bobsled team and Eddie the Eagle (Readers Digest). Lastly, the Olympics provided Vancouver the opportunity to continue its focus on sustainability and innovation. The Vancouver Games in 2010 assisted Vancouver to achieve its goal of becoming the world’s greenest city by 2020. Some major examples include the LEED platinum Convention Centre with its green roof and the Olympic Village, which is considered one of the most environmentally friendly communities in the world (Readers Digest).
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The IOC and the Olympic Games have provided significant economic, social and environmental benefits for host nations and its athletes. There are examples however that illustrate some negative costs to the host nations, primarily focussed on financial burdens and infrastructure upgrades. Overall the IOC plays a significant role around the world that drives unity, friendships and global awareness though sport and youth. One day I too hope to participate in the Olympic Games representing Canada in Freestyle Wrestling.
- Chainey, Ross, and Digital Media Specialist. “9 Olympic Moments That Changed History.” World Economic Forum, www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/07/9-olympic-moments-that-changed-history/.
- Lev, Elianna. “10 Ways the Olympics Changed Canada.” Reader’s Digest, www.readersdigest.ca/travel/canada/ways-olympics-changed-canada/.
- “The International Olympic Committee (The IOC).” InBrief.co.uk, www.inbrief.co.uk/sports-law/international-olympic-committee-ioc/.
- “The Olympics – International Olympic Committee.” History, 1 June 2017, www.historyonthenet.com/the-olympics-international-olympic-committee.
- “The Penn Museum.” Penn Museum, www.penn.museum/sites/olympics/olympicorigins.shtml.
- “Who We Are.” International Olympic Committee, 9 July 2019, www.olympic.org/about-ioc-olympic-movement.
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