Coubertin Quote for Jan, 22
I was quickly convinced that locating the seat of Olympism permanently and exclusively in Greece meant suicide for my work. Therefore, I resolved to fight with all my strength against the obstacles that had sprung up in its path, in the space of just a few days.Share
Imagine if you launched something as important as the modern Olympic Games and got no credit for it. Imagine if during the first celebration of your event, while the stadium was packed with 70,000 spectators—as the athletic glories you had dreamed of came to life before your eyes—you were shunted aside, denied credit for your creation, even labeled a thief by the local press, who accused you of stealing their rightful heritage. That is the situation Baron Pierre de Coubertin found himself in the first days of the inaugural Olympic Games in Athens in 1896. Recognizing the implausibility of starting a fight with the Greek royal family for control during the Games, the Baron managed to do something few of us are capable of: In modern lingo, he checked his ego at the door, played the role of a gracious guest, bided his time, and waited to reassert his authority when the Games were over. At the final banquet, King George of Greece, flush with the success of the whole enterprise, declared his intention to make Athens the “rightful and permanent host” of every future edition of the Olympic Games. A few days later, Coubertin wrote him a letter full of gratitude and praise and sent a message that he looked forward to seeing the King four years later in Paris for the 1900 Olympic Games. In his Olympic Memoirs, the Baron wrote that the Olympic Games were a constant struggle from the moment they were birthed. Aside from his trouble with the Greeks, the Americans sought to seize control of the Olympic Movement during its first decade. Just to dispel the notion that it was easy work launching the Games and putting them on the world map, we’ll include a few quotes in this series that reflect on the Baron’s struggles.