Jean Durry and Stephan Wassong
It was in Lausanne, the Olympic capital, that the initiative was taken to create an international committee to preserve, analyse and disseminate the works and thoughts of Pierre de Coubertin. The Comité Internationale Pierre de Coubertin (CIPC) was founded on 19th January 1975; it emerged out of the Comité Français Pierre de Coubertin.
Its first president became Switzerland’s Paul Martin, an Olympian (800 metres, athletics) who competed in the five editions of the Olympic Games between 1920 and 1936. He was a surgeon and the author of Au dixième de secondeand Le sport et l’homme. Only five days after the foundation Martin informed the administration of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which was then led by Monique Berlioux as Director general, on the objectives and the mission of the CIPC. In the first statues one can read the following:
- To perpetuate the entire intellectual work of Pierre de Coubertin;
- To spread ideas of Pierre de Coubertin among the youth of the world;
- To distribute films;
- To reorganize and inaugurate the Olympic Museum in Lausanne under the direction of Mrs Monique Berlioux, Director of the IOC, and in collaboration with the City of Lausanne;
- To reach out to the mass-media (the press, radio and TV)
In its basic orientation, the guiding principles of the CIPC have not fundamentally changed. It is still necessary to archive, analyse and disseminate the writings and ideas of Coubertin. Only in this way it will be possible to achieve an objective and comprehensive picture of Coubertin, his initiative for the reintroduction of the Olympic Games and his ideas to promote sport as a tool for social change and transcultural respect. In this context it should not be forgotten that Coubertin developed his educational ideas and initiatives in the fading 19th and in the first three decades of the 20th century. Without doubt, times have changed which requires a sort of modern reading of Coubertin to stress his relevance in our times in a realistic way. This demand has been included in the statues updated and ratified by the General Assembly on 10th March 2019.
The object of the CIPC is as follows:
- To seek to make known the works of Pierre de Coubertin in their entirety, to identify the main lines of his thinking, and to ensure their dissemination throughout the world in order to contribute to human development and to finding solutions to current problems;
- To promote and foster the study of Pierre de Coubertin’s integral humanism and his pedagogical and social thinking in order to identify more specifically the moral, civic, cultural and pedagogical teaching resulting from these;
- To translate Pierre de Coubertin`s educational leitmotifs into our times in order to strengthen an objectively identification with Coubertin as founder of the Olympic Movement and promoter of sport as an educational tool for character development, social change and transcultural respect.
- To coordinate such study entrusted to the CIPC members or external experts selected on the basis of their specific expertise;
- To contribute to the adoption of rules and methods in accordance with such teaching, from which the Olympic Spirit originates;
- To honour and reward those people, bodies or entities whose conduct or activity best serves the ideals of Pierre de Coubertin;
- To work with those national and international organisations that have undertaken to disseminate the Olympic Spirit and further the legacy of Pierre de Coubertin;
- To ensure the international coordination of the activities of its members in their respective countries and of any Pierre de Coubertin committees that it has officially recognised.
Progressively mounting its presence across the five continents, the impact of the CIPC has become increasingly substantial over more than four decades. Objectively, it is comforting to note that a team of volunteers has been able to obtain such concrete results through various initiatives. Before some of them are listed it has to be stressed that the support of the IOC has contributed much to the realization of following projects:
- First and foremost, increasingly sound and solid editing and publishing work. It was essential to enable access to Coubertin`s works and thought. This lengthy undertaking, which continues today, has been a great success. It also includes the translation of relevant works of and on Coubertin into various languages
- The continuous organisation of conferences, symposia, congresses and seminars.
- The presentation of various exhibitions, often touring, providing a visual illustration of the various sides to Coubertin.
- The ongoing development, every two years as of 1997, of International Youth Forums and the Network of Coubertin Schools, a practical and living application of Coubertin’s versatile vision.
- All of this has been supported by the establishment of an increasingly broad network, supported by individuals as well as national Pierre de Coubertin committees such as the French Pierre de Coubertin Committee (currently known as the Comité Pierre de Coubertin France), which was created in 1950.
Last but not the least the following has to be mentioned: Since 2nd September 1937, when Pierre de Coubertin passed away, the world has changed, as has the way in which his career and his work are perceived and analysed, initially limited to the assertion and almost automatic communication of a certain number of clichés. Another view was that of obscurity or sometimes a strong intention to contest the originality and importance of his contribution. Then came the time to question, sometimes viciously, the enlightened renovator, the liberal thinker. Far from ignoring such reluctance, doubts and questions, the CIPC seeks to provide responses to them, because it is only too aware of the dangers of an abusive personality cult. It seeks to illustrate everything relevant about Coubertin, who was often a “pathfinder”, a visionary, with a great deal to teach us, somebody who always walked a few steps ahead.