Coubertin Quote for Oct, 17
The revived Games have the twofold advantage … of being worldwide in character and being celebrated each time in a different place.Share
The idea of an “ambulatory” Olympic Games, a global sports festival celebrated in a different host city and country every four years, may well have been Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s greatest single innovation. For more twelve centuries in the ancient world, the Olympic Games were celebrated in a single location in Olympia. And even in the late 19th century, many of the most successful sports teams were permanently identified with cities or stadiums, anchored in a particular geography even if they traveled for competition. The first baseball, football, and college teams typically carried a city name. But where others saw strength, the Baron saw limitations. Given his overriding mission of unifying the world in friendship and peace through sport, the idea of rotating the Olympics from continent to continent, country to country, city to city, was a stunning innovation that the Baron had to fight to preserve from the beginning. The success of the first Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896, led to proposals to make Athens the permanent host of every Olympic Games. The highly popular USA Olympic Team and others, including the Baron’s IOC colleagues, soon expressed their support for the idea—and it took everything in the Baron’s power to wrestle control of the Games back from the Greeks. Today, of course, with opposition groups protesting the notion that any city can afford to host the Games, the idea of a permanent location for the Olympics has surfaced again. While the financial issues need to be resolved through new hosting innovations, what a loss it would be to our world if the idea of a permanent location prevailed. Aside from the loss of global exposure to the amazing cultural diversity of our world, a central tenet of Coubertin’s idealism would be destroyed. Today’s quote is drawn from Legends, the final chapter of the Baron’s Olympic Memoirs.
“The revived Games have the twofold advantage over their forerunners of being worldwide in character and being celebrated each time in a different place. They are thus more flexible and at the same time more solid.”