Photo of the Refugee Olympic Athletes
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The Summer Olympics are always fascinating to me. And this year is no exception. Two Hundred and Six Nations. Thousands of athletes whose number one dream is to take home the GOLD.
Today will look at the facts, figures and lessons learned as the Summer Olympics continue to play out in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
History of the Olympics
According to historical records, the first ancient Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 BC. They were dedicated to the Olympian gods and were staged on the ancient plains of Olympia. They continued for nearly 12 centuries, until Emperor Theodosius decreed in 393 A.D. that all such "pagan cults" be banned.
Olympia, the site of the ancient Olympic Games, is in the western part of the Peloponnese which, according to Greek mythology, is the island of "Pelops", the founder of the Olympic Games. Imposing temples, votive buildings, elaborate shrines and ancient sporting facilities were combined in a site of unique natural and mystical beauty. Olympia functioned as a meeting place for worship and other religious and political practices as early as the 10th century B.C. The central part of Olympia was dominated by the majestic temple of Zeus, with the temple of Hera parallel to it.
THE GAMES AND RELIGION
The Olympic Games were closely linked to the religious festivals of the cult of Zeus, but were not an integral part of a rite. Indeed, they had a secular character and aimed to show the physical qualities and evolution of the performances.
When he announced in Paris, on a winter's evening in 1892, the forthcoming re-establishment of the Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin was applauded, but nobody at the time imagined the scale of the project entailed by reviving the ancient Olympic Games, appointing a committee in charge of organising them and creating an international movement. The IOC was created on 23 June 1894; the 1st Olympic Games of the modern era opened in Athens on 6 April 1896; and the Olympic Movement has not stopped growing ever since. The Olympic Movement encompasses organisations, athletes and other persons who agree to be guided by the principles of the Olympic Charter. Its composition and general organisation are governed by Chapter 1 of the Charter. The Movement comprises three main constituents:
The IOC: The Supreme Authority of the Movement
The International Federations (IFs): these are international non-governmental organisations administering one or several sports at world level and encompassing organisations administering such sports at national level (More information about IFs).
The National Olympic Committees: their mission is to develop, promote and protect the Olympic Movement in their respective countries. The NOCs are the only organisations that can select and designate the city which may apply to organise Olympic Games in their respective countries. In addition, they alone can send athletes to the Games. (More information about NOCs)
The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practised without discrimination or any kind, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
The Olympic Movement is defined also by the numerous activities in which it engages, such as:
Promoting sport and competitions through the intermediary of national and international sports institutions worldwide.
Cooperation with public and private organisations to place sport at the service of mankind.
Assistance to develop "Sport for All”.
Advancement of women in sport at all levels and in all structures, with a view to achieving equality between men and women.Help in the development of sport for all.
Opposition to all forms of commercial exploitation of sport and athletes.
The fight against doping.
Promoting sports ethics and fair play.
Raising awareness of environmental problems.
Financial and educational support for developing countries through the IOC institution Olympic Solidarity.
THE OLYMPIC CHARTER
The Olympic Charter is the codification of the Fundamental Principles, Rules and Bye-laws adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). It governs the organisation and running of the Olympic Movement and sets the conditions for the celebration of the Olympic Games.
"Olympism is 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 found in effort, the educational value of good example and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”
WHY ARE THE OLYMPICS HELD EVERY FOUR YEARS?
To respect the ancient origins of the Olympic Games, which were held every four years at Olympia.
The four-year interval between the Ancient Games editions was named an “Olympiad”, and was used for dating purposes at the time: time was counted in Olympiads rather than years.
In 1894, Pierre de Coubertin launched his plan to revive the Olympic Games, and in 1896 the first Games of the modern era were held in Athens. Today, an Olympiad begins on the first of January of the first year and ends on the thirty-first of December of the fourth year.
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Carole Copeland Thomas is a 27 year speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in global diversity, empowerment, multiculturalism and leadership issues.