International Olympic Committee

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

International Olympic Committee


(Comité International Olympique, IOC), the highest governing organ of the modern Olympic movement.

The IOC was established on June 23, 1894, upon the initiative of the French public figure P. de Coubertin at an international congress convoked in Paris to discuss immediate problems of physical education and sports. The newly formed IOC had the task of organizing the modern Olympic Games. Included within it were representatives from Argentina, Belgium, Great Britain, Hungary, Greece, Italy, New Zealand, Russia (General A. D. Butovskii), the USA, France, Bohemia, and Sweden. The first members of the IOC were the organizers of national Olympic committees in their own countries. The basic document of the IOC is the Charter of the Olympic Games.

The IOC conducts the Olympic Games and constantly improves them, guides the development of amateur sports, and helps strengthen friendship among the athletes of all countries. The IOC adopts resolutions on the recognition of national Olympic committees and international sports federations (as of Nov. 1, 1973, the IOC had recognized 131 national Olympic committees and 26 international federations) and determines the program of the Olympic Games. During the games themselves the IOC delegates to the international sports federations the actual supervision of the corresponding events. Staff headquarters of the IOC is located in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The IOC is a permanent organization. It elects its members from persons living in the countries with national Olympic committees. One member of the IOC is elected from each country (the largest countries, the countries that participate most actively in the Olympic movement, and countries where the Olympic Games have already taken place may elect two members). In accord with the charter, the IOC members are its representatives in their own countries, rather than representatives of their countries in the IOC. As of Nov. 1, 1973, the IOC included 78 members from 62 countries. There are two IOC members in the USSR: K. A. Andrianov (since 1951; a member of the executive committee since 1962) and V. G. Smirnov (since 1971); A. O. Romanov is an honorary member (he was a regular member of the IOC from 1952 to 1971). There are 69 countries participating in the Olympic movement that do not have IOC representatives. The presidents of the IOC have included D. Vikelas (Greece) from 1894 to 1896, P. de Coubertin (France) from 1896 to 1925, H. de Baillet Latour (Belgium) from 1925 to 1942, S. Edstrom (Sweden) from 1942 to 1952, A. Brundage (USA) from 1952 to 1972, and M. Killanin (Ireland) since 1972. Sessions of the IOC are held annually, except during an Olympic year, when there are two meetings: during the Summer Games and the Winter Games.

Upon the initiative of representatives from the socialist countries the IOC has on several occasions considered general problems of international sports ties and the democratization of the Olympic movement. It has taken a stand against political and racial discrimination in sports (for instance, in 1968 the IOC granted the sports organizations of the German Democratic Republic and the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea the right to send their own national teams to the Olympic Games; it barred access to the 1964 and 1968 Olympic Games to the Republic of South Africa, where a state policy of apartheid is followed, and it refused to recognize its national Olympic committee in 1970). Upon the proposal of the Soviet committee, the IOC in 1967 adopted a resolution addressed to athletes of all countries, appealing to them to speak out in defense of peace. On certain questions the IOC has maintained conservative positions; in particular, it has not abandoned the undemocratic principle of its formation. Prior to 1930 the IOC periodically convoked Olympic Congresses in order to discuss problems of the Olympic movement (nine such congresses were held). Subsequently, for 43 years the IOC strove to retain its monopolistic role as the movement’s governing body by refusing to convene congresses. After urging by the progressive forces of the international sports movement, the Tenth Congress was held in Bulgaria in 1973, with the participation of IOC members, delegates of national Olympic committees, and international sports federations. The Congress adopted an appeal to athletes concerning the broadening of contacts for the purpose of strengthening peace; it expressed itself in favor of active participation by the national Olympic committees and the international federations in resolving the problems of world sports; and it defined the principal ways of improving the Olympic movement.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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