International Olympic Committee

Olympic-DoheThe International Olympic Committee (IOC) was formed in 1896 to govern the organization and development of what were understood to be a modern version of the Greek Olympic Games. Its first president was Dimitros Vikelas, a Greek, and its secretary was Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin. De Coubertin’s energy and his vision have been the true inspiration behind the modern Olympic movement.

The IOC has effectively governed the Olympic movement for over 100 years. However, that period of time has seen many conflicts and controversies within the IOC and in the Olympic movement as a whole. At first, the main obstacle de Coubertin faced to creating an international Olympic movement was the lack of organization of sport internationally. Early sports organizations-most of them amateur-had trouble organizing their own sports and leagues nationally. As a result, cooperating with the IOC internationally was an extreme challenge.  

In the early years, de Coubertin’s own vision for the Games dictated much of the IOC’s policies and procedures. His prejudices also influenced the movement. For example, de Coubertin was adamant in his rejection of female athletes’ participation in the Games. An embodiment of Victorian ideals and prejudices, de Coubertin thought women’s place was in the home, and bearing and raising children. Indeed, he thought of women’s competition as unnatural, immoral, and “indecent.” As a result of de Coubertin’s powerful position within the IOC, it would take many years to have women participating in any significant way.  

The IOC has always claimed a “hands-off” approach to political struggles and controversies surrounding the Games. Claiming, now for over 100 years, that the IOC is not a political organization, and that sport in its purest sense (one represented best by the IOC, of course) is inherently nonpolitical, the IOC has always had trouble answering critics who point out obvious exceptions to the claim. At the simplest level, the act of competing under national flags-something the IOC encourages-is a political event. At a higher political level, the Olympic Games have been used for political demonstration through boycotts, and the Olympic movement was probably the most visible means of symbolically fighting the Cold War.  

The post-World War II years were lean ones for the Olympic movement. The IOC and hosting cities and nations often had trouble breaking even. At its worst, the Games went into great financial debt, most notoriously in the Summer Games in Montreal in 1976. However, since that time, the Games have taken a more “market friendly” approach, encouraging private sponsorship and negotiating massive television contracts with networks around the world, especially those in the U.S.A. As a result, the IOC is a much more financially solvent organization than it was a few decades ago. However, it is not clear that the IOC is following its founder’s original plan for the movement. After all, de Coubertin was a pure amateur at heart. The current commercially oriented Olympics would make de Coubertin concerned, to say the least.

1 thought on “International Olympic Committee

  • inspiration


    a person, experience, place etc that gives you new ideas for something you do

    The seascapes of Cape Cod were her inspiration.
    inspiration for/behind
    He was the inspiration for Wordsworth’s poem ‘The Old Huntsman’.


    a serious argument about something that involves many people and continues for a long time

    a political controversythe

    controversy surrounding Skinner’s theories
    cause/provoke/arouse controversy
    The judges’ decision provoked controversy.
    controversy over/about
    the controversy over campaign-finance issues
    Controversy arose (=began) over the use of the chemicals on fruit and vegetables.

    Another Source
    (a) fierce argument or disagreement about something, esp. one that is carried on in public over a long period:
    The lie detector tests have been the subject of much controversy.

    recent controversies surrounding his appointment to the Cabinet
    the controversy about his illicit affairs  
    the new leader tried to avoid controversy

    determined not to change your opinion or a decision that you have made

    She begged me to change my mind, but I remained adamant .
    adamant that
    Michael Jackson is adamant that he will not tour this year.
    we told him not to resign, but he remained adamant  

    Another Source
    (of a person or behavior) firm and immovable in purpose or opinion:
    I tried to talk her out of it, but she was adamant.
    He was (completely) adamant that they should go.


    someone or something that represents, includes, or is very typical of something:

    ᅳsynonym epitome
    The new factory is the embodiment of the very latest ideas.
    He is the embodiment of evil. (=is evil itself)
    she is the embodiment of virtue

    an unreasonable dislike and distrust of people who are different from you in some way, especially because of their race, sex, religion etc – used to show disapproval

    Women still face prejudice in the workplace.
    It takes a long time to overcome these kinds of prejudices.
    prejudice against
    a cultural prejudice against fat people
    racial/sexual prejudice
    Asian pupils complained of racial prejudice at the school.
    prejudice against those of a different race or religion.  
    a prejudice against modern art.

    Another Source
    (an) unfair and often unfavorable feeling or opinion formed without thinking deeply and clearly or without enough knowledge, and sometimes resulting from fear or distrust of ideas different from one’s own:
    They accused him of having a prejudice against his women employees. | A judge must be free from prejudice.


    to give birth to a baby

    She might never be able to bear children.
    bear somebody a child/son/daughter
    She bore him three sons.
    She bore/has borne three children.
    She bore him a daughter. (=he was the father)
    a woman of child-bearing age

    childbearing age/years
    if a woman is of childbearing age or in her childbearing years, she is of an age when it is physically possible for her to have babies


    morally wrong
    ᅳsee also amoral
    Deliberately making people suffer is immoral.

    It’s immoral to be rich while people are starving and homeless.


    something that is indecent is shocking and offensive, usually because it involves sex or shows parts of the body that are usually covered
    He was found guilty of possessing indecent photographs of young boys. You can’t go out in that dress – it’s positively indecent!
    completely unacceptable
    The funeral formalities were performed with almost indecent haste .

    Another Source

    1 morally offensive, esp. sexually improper:
    an indecent remark/joke

    2 infml not reasonable; not suitable (in amount or quality):
    You’ve given us an indecent amount of work to do. (=too much)
    He left with indecent haste. (=too fast)



    a hands-off way of organizing something involves letting people do what they want and make their

    own decisions, without telling them what to do

    a hands-off style of management
    The government has a hands-off approach to the industry.
    they follow a hands-off policy in the affairs of other countries.


    a lean period is a very difficult time because there is not enough money, business etc

    His wife was a source of constant support during the lean years .


    famous or well-known for something bad

    ᅳsynonym infamousa
    notorious computer hacker
    notorious cases of human rights abuses
    notorious for
    a judge notorious for his cruelty and corruption
    ᅳnotoriously adverb
    Statistics can be notoriously unreliable.
    The program is notoriously difficult to learn.


    having enough money to pay your debts

    ᅳopposite insolvent
    stay/remain/keep solvent
    I don’t know how we managed to remain solvent.

    at heart
    really; in fact:

    He seems friendly, but he’s just a ruthless businessman at heart.
    He may be a working class boy at heart, but his lifestyle has been transformed.
    Let’s face it, we’re all romantics at heart.

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