What is Olympism?
The concept of Olympism was created more than 120 years ago by Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Movement.
Coubertin was passionate about making the world a better place through sport. That’s why he established the Olympic Movement. He believed sport could help bring communities together, stop war and promote healthy competition free from cheating and discrimination. Ultimately, Coubertin wanted to show how sport can make the world a better place by encouraging friendship, togetherness and fair play.
As Coubertin was planning the modern Olympic Games in the 1890s the idea of Olympism became more clearly defined. In the Olympic Charter it is expressed as “a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”
Why is Olympism important?
The aim of Olympism is to show how sport can make us all better citizens through the combination of mind, body and spirit. Its goal is to help foster better relationships between communities and nations, helping us to live in harmony with each other. Olympism tells us that sport is a universal human right and we all should be free to practice it. Olympism is a great way to show how everyone in the world can better themselves. Pierre de Coubertin said: “Olympism is not a system, it is a state of mind. It can permeate a wide variety of modes of expression and no single race or era can claim to have the monopoly of it”.
What has Olympism achieved?
Olympism was formalised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in the Olympic Charter. The IOC constituted itself on 23 June 1894 and it continues to promote Olympism around the world today. The IOC celebrates the values of Olympism through the Olympic Games and the many international programmes it supports. The first Olympic Games of modern times were celebrated in Athens, Greece, in 1896. The first Olympic Winter Games were celebrated in Chamonix, France, in 1924.
Through the spirit of Olympism and the Olympic Games the IOC is able to promote sport, culture, education and positive values in the modern world. The IOC also helps set up programmes that encourage us to understand each other across cultural and political divides. Olympism’s support for the rules of fair play and our fellow sporting competitors led the IOC to fight unethical and illegal practices, such as doping and match fixing, that tarnish the image of sport, can lead people astray and ruin the sporting experience for athletes and fans.
For example, the IOC played a key role in establishing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The IOC also supports organisations like Right to Play (www.righttoplay.com), Generations for Peace (www.generationsforpeace.org) and us so that we can implement positive projects around the world.
How does the WOA contribute to Olympism around the world?
There are more than 100,000 living Olympians – many do not earn a lot of money and most are no longer competing. If they need support, our National Olympians Associations (NOAs) can help Olympians improve the quality of their lives during their active careers and also after retirement from competitive sport.
The WOA honours the Olympic spirit by helping NOAs around the world run projects and events that support Olympians and that promote Olympism in the community.
The WOA helps NOAs inspire, organise and mobilise Olympians so that they become involved in public service and are able to make meaningful and positive contributions to their local communities.
What are the core values of Olympism and the Olympic Movement?
Excellence: This is about giving one's best, on the field of play or in your personal and professional life. It is about trying your hardest to win, but its also about the joy of participating, achieving your personal goals, striving to be and to do your best in your daily lives and benefiting from the healthy combination of a strong body, mind and will.
Friendship: This encourages us to consider sport as a tool to help foster greater mutual understanding among individuals and people from all over the world. The Olympic Games inspire people to overcome political, economic, gender, racial or religious differences and forge friendships in spite of those differences.
Respect: This value incorporates respect for oneself, one's body, for others, for the rules and regulations, for sport and the environment. Related to sport, respect stands for fair play and for the fight against doping and any other unethical behaviour.
What are the principles of Olympism that are activated by the Olympic Movement?
The principles of Olympism highlighted below describe how Olympic values are expressed to create positive social change:
Non-Discrimination. The Olympic Movement strives to ensure that sport is practised without any form of discrimination.
Sustainability. The Olympic Movement organises and delivers programmes in a way that promotes sustainable economic, social and environmental development.
Humanism. The Olympic Movement's activities place people at the centre of its attention, ensuring that the practice of sport remains a human right.
Universality. Sport belongs to everyone. In all its decisions and actions, the Olympic Movement takes into account the universal impact sport can have on individuals and society.
Solidarity. The Olympic Movement is committed to developing programmes that, together, create a meaningful and comprehensive social response to issues it can help address.
Alliance between sport, education and culture. The Olympic Movement is committed to promoting the spirit of Olympism – the point at which sport, culture and education converge.