The International Pierre de Coubertin Committee (CIPC) wishes to congratulate the International Olympic Academy (IOA) on its 60th anniversary. On this special occasion, the CIPC would like to pay tribute to the IOA with a sculpture of Pierre de Coubertin by a well-known artist, Karl Heinz Oswald, who also sculpted the Coubertin busts that are exhibited in a number of places, including the IOC headquarters and the Olympic Museum in Lausanne. The sculpture was created to emphasize the ties that have joined the IOA and the CIPC for decades.

Besides promoting Olympism in countless speeches and articles, Coubertin launched a variety of institutional initiatives that form the basis for the recent recommendation to ‘live Olympism for 365 days’ published in the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020. During his presidency of the IOC from 1896 to 1925, Coubertin organized eight Olympic Congresses as discussion forums on the practical dimension of Olympism, set up the Olympic Institute in Lausanne in 1917, founded the Society of Popular Sports in 1905 and, in 1927, started thinking with his Greek academic friend, Ioannis Chrysafis, about the establishment of a permanent school of Olympism located in Olympia, Greece.

There is a great deal of research and documentation illustrating how the idea of such a school motivated Carl Diem and Ioannis Ketseas, strong educational supporters of the Olympic Movement and representatives of the generation following Coubertin that advocated Olympism, to establish the International Olympic Academy (IOA). A lengthy process requiring motivation, perseverance and the approval of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee took place before the first participants could be welcomed to the IOA to attend the first course, which was held from 13 to 30 June 1961. A total of 31 participants, nominated by 24 National Olympic Committees, attended the first course, which made history as the 1st Young Participants’ Session. The official opening lectures were given on 16 June.

To date, the IOA has expanded its programme systematically and has been offering courses for various target groups. The number of participants has increased continuously and numerous people from all continents have recognized the IOA as a sustainable platform for learning and sharing Olympic values.

Since its official opening in June 1961, the IOA has developed into an undeniably unique and important institution for the dissemination of the philosophy of Olympism. It has become a point of reference for the teaching of Olympic values to various target groups. The IOA has extended its support to the Olympic Movement, strengthening its goal to promote sport as an educational means for the successful development of societies across the globe. This responsibility of the IOA will be further developed in the future and the CIPC will make a contribution to this.

Stephan Wassong

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