n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Providing "intellectual guidance" for the Olympic movement : the Olympic congresses - history and highlights, 1894 - 2009 : sport studies

Volume 18 Number sup-1
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


The inaugural Olympic Congress of 1894 did not only result in the of the modern Games of the Olympiad as we know them today, but also ushered in policies, a philosophy and prescripts that the entire structure of the Olympic Movement (the National Olympic Committees (NOCs); the International sports Federations (IFs) and the other Olympic Organizations such as the Olympic Solidarity, Olympic Truce Commission; the World Anti-Doping Agency etc.) was to be established in subsequent years; starting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), as the leader with supreme authority (IOC, 2011). These modern Games, of course, were a borrowed vision of Baron Pierre de Coubertin of Paris, France. Pierre de was enamoured with English games playing and visited the Much Wenlock Games in 1890 (Nauright, 2012). The latter were founded by William Penny Brookes in 1850 and more importantly, were a means to promote the physical, moral and intellectual improvement of the residents of the town and neighbourhood of Wenlock a small town in Shropshire. Professional athletes were allowed to participate in the Much Wenlock Games from 1868 and events were handicapped in 1869. Pierre de Coubertin was extremely impressed that he moved forward with an idea to revive the ancient Greek Olympic Games, organizing the first Olympic Congress in 1894, which decided, amongst other things, to hold the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece in 1896. Comparable to the Much Wenlock Games, the inaugural Olympic Congress established the Olympic Movement with the purpose to improve the human race, not only physically, but to grant bigger nobility to its spirit, in a way to strengthen the understanding and the friendship amongst town. It was viewed as extreme necessity, especially for the youth, to counteract the bad influence of industrialization. In these early days the inaugural Congress used the modern rebirth of the Olympic Games of antiquity and its adaptation to the modern times as a means to reach its higher objectives. It should be of interest to assess the extent to which how the Olympic Congresses have managed guide the IOC and the Olympic Movement over the years. This article therefore is an attempts to outline the role and impact of these Olympic Congresses on the work of the Olympic Movement, especially its "intellectual guiding"; modernising and transformation roles, from inception until its last edition in 2009. This review article drew its sources from the IOC official documents and publications; the Olympic Movement related publications and from the various pertinent academic and non-academic literature on the topic.

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