**To Explore and Enhance the Contribution of Olympism to Humanity in the 21st Century**
“Defending and promoting the Olympic Ideal from both the sporting and the cultural point of view must be a task that we all share.” –Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC
The International Olympic Academy functions as a multicultural interdisciplinary center that aims at studying, enriching and promoting Olympism. The foundation of such an institution was inspired by the ancient Gymnasium, which shaped the Olympic Ideal by harmoniously cultivating body, will and mind. On the eve of the 21st century, the centennial anniversary of the revival of the Olympic Games coincides with the global scale changes that are affecting every aspect of human thought and activity.
We, our cultures and our civilizations have already entered a greater transitional period in which the images of the world that we were used to taking for granted are being altered. The interrelated scientific, technological, economic, political and social developments that characterize the course of humanity towards the third millennium are influencing each and every idea, norm and institution of our international community.
This dynamic wave is also opening up new forms of dialogue for the future of Olympism. Moreover, as can be seen through the study of its age-long history, the Olympic Ideal has always been conceived and formed according to the wider conditions prevailing during different periods in time. The birth, the prosperity, the decline and the revival of the Olympic Games have all been the reflection of the wider cultural conditions that shaped each era.
The speculations and potentials still evolving out of the Olympic Movement are naturally arising in the realization process of such an Ideal. “Olympism,” after all, in the words of Pierre de Coubertin, “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.”
The International Olympic Academy provides a unique opportunity for students, academics, athletes, artists and officials from all over the world to exchange ideas and share this “state of mind” in Ancient Olympia.
The wide variety of educational sessions, academic programs and in-depth research studies that are offered, all aim towards serving the vision of the International Olympic Academy for the new century: to explore and enhance the contribution of Olympism to humanity.
The mission of the IOA is:
1. To function as an International Academic Centre for Olympic Studies, Education and Research.
2. To act as an International Forum for free expression and exchange of ideas among the Olympic Family, intellectuals, scientists, athletes, sport administrators, educators, artists and the youth of the world.
3. To bring together people from all over the world, in a spirit of friendship and cooperation.
4. To motivate people to use the experiences and knowledge gained in the IOA productively, in promoting the Olympic Ideals in their respective countries.
5. To serve and promote the Ideals and principles of the Olympic Movement.
6. To cooperate with and assist the National Olympic Academies and any other institutions devoted to Olympic Education.
7. To further explore and enhance the contribution of Olympism to humanity.
Officially inaugurated on 14 June 1961, the IOA initially limited its function to organizing the International Session for Young Participants. In 1967, an IOC commission was created to coordinate relations among the IOA, the Olympic Movement, and Olympic Solidarity. This same year, the first permanent premises for the IOA were constructed at the site of Ancient Olympia.
By 1970, the educational programs of the IOA had expanded to cover all aspects of the Olympic Movement. Special sessions for institutions involved with Olympism were established, including National Olympic Committees (NOC), National Olympic Academies (NOA), International Sport Federations (FIEP), Sport Medical Societies, Unions of Coaches, Sports Administrators, and Teachers.
Growing out of ancient Greek civilization, Olympism is a philosophy of life that blends sport, culture, and education to produce a balanced character strong in body, mind, and will. Convening at Ancient Olympia infused with this dramatic lineage is important to the spirit of the conferences, and the campus exerts a profound effect on all who visit and study there.
“We are in a haven of peace and balance, where centuries remain engraved on the stones…the beauty of the vegetation, and the serenity which pervades this unique place, Olympia, where sport started on its most glorious and finest course.” – Juan Antonio Samaranch, Former Honorary President of the IOC and IOA
Many of these ancient traditions continue today. Two of the most powerful ceremonies are the laying of wreaths at the monument where Pierre de Coubertin’s heart is buried to honor the man who revived the Ancient Games, and the Lighting of the Olympic Flame to inaugurate the official Olympic Games.
In Ancient Greece, a person needed well-rounded training to be considered cultured. Sport was part of man’s education that aimed at cultivating harmonious intellectual, mental, and physical faculties. Young students were taught art, philosophy, and music, as well as sports, based on the spirit of fair competition and high ethics.
Held every four years, the Ancient Olympic Games were an integral part of the balanced way of life. With its origins in the mists of Greek mythological tales of gods and goddesses, the honor of victory at the Olympic Games carried sacred blessings and immense prestige. The Olympic Games went through many reversals of fortune due to political changes over the long history. From circa 400 AD to the late 1800s, no organized Olympic Games existed. Then in 1896, Pierre de Coubertin succeeded in reviving the tradition, and the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens.
In 1927, Coubertin originated the idea for adding an international Olympic academy in his efforts to spread Olympic values. In the IOA, the realization of his vision continues to grow as a result of the dedicated contributions of many people over decades. Now overseen by the IOC, the International Olympic Movement (IOM) has been formed to functionally implement Olympic ideals through a conglomeration of organizations and individuals. Recognizing education as the backbone of the Olympic Movement, the IOC supports the IOA and other institutions devoted to Olympic education.
The current IOA houses many priceless resources, such as an archeological museum, a modern Olympic Games museum, a research library, the Coubertin Grove, and the excavated ruins of Ancient Olympia’s temples, gymnasium, and Sanctuary constructed by Alexander the Great in 338 B.C. These exalted settings, sacred to the Greek god, Zeus, offer a cornucopia of contemporary sports media conferences, research studies, special sessions for dignitaries, gatherings of Olympic medalists, the Olympic Studies Master’s Degree Program, and other courses for international students of the IOA.