Presidents of the International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is a corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin and Demetrius Vikelas on 23 June 1894. Its membership consists of the 205 National Olympic Committees. The IOC organizes the modern Olympic Games held in Summer and Winter, every four years.
The IOC Executive Board consists of the President, four Vice-Presidents and ten other members. All members of the IOC Executive Board are elected by the Session, in a secret ballot, by a majority of the votes cast. The IOC Executive Board assumes the general overall responsibility for the administration of the IOC and the management of its affairs. The IOC Session elects, by secret ballot, the IOC President from among its members for a term of eight years renewable once for four years.
- 1 Demetrius Vikelas (1894–1896)
- 2 Pierre de Coubertin (1896–1925)
- 3 Godefroy de Blonay (1916–1919)
- 4 Henri de Baillet-Latour (1925–1942)
- 5 Sigfrid Edström (1942–1952)
- 6 Avery Brundage (1952–1972)
- 7 Lord Killanin (1972–1980)
- 8 Juan Antonio Samaranch (1980–2001)
- 9 Jacques Rogge (2001–2013)
- 10 Thomas Bach (2013-Present)
- 11 See also
- 12 References
Demetrius Vikelas (1894–1896)
Pierre de Coubertin had already attempted to restart the Olympic Games at the congress for the fifth anniversary of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques in 1892. While he may have raised the enthusiasm of the public, he didn't manage to establish a proper commitment.
He decided to reiterate his efforts at the congress in 1894 which followed, which would openly address the issue of amateur sports, but also with the sub-text of the recreation of the Olympic Games. Six of the seven points which would be debated pertained to amateurism (definition, disqualification, betting, etc.) and the seventh on the possibility of restoring the Games. Coubertin also sought to give an international dimension to his congress. He gained support from several personalities: the King of the Belgians, the Prince of Wales, the Crown Prince Constantine of Greece and William Penny Brookes, the creator of the "Olympian Games" in Shropshire, England, and Ioannis Phokianos. Phokianos was a professor of mathematics and physics and a college principal. He was also one of the propagators of sport in Greece—he was the organiser of a series of Olympic Games sponsored by Evangelos Zappas in 1875 and in 1888 organised an elite and private Games as the founder of the Pan-Hellenic Gymnastic Club. Phokianos couldn't travel to Paris for financial reasons and because he was finalising the construction of his new college. He turned to one of the more eminent representatives of the Greek community in Paris—Demetrios Vikelas—to whom he wrote to ask him to take part in the congress.
Pierre de Coubertin (1896–1925)
Pierre de Coubertin took over the IOC presidency when Demetrius Vikelas stepped down after the Olympics in his own country. Despite the initial success, the Olympic Movement faced hard times, as the 1900 (in de Coubertin's own Paris) and 1904 Games were both swallowed by World's Fairs, and received little attention.
The 1906 Summer Olympics revived the momentum, and the Olympic Games grew to become the most important sports event. De Coubertin created the modern pentathlon for the 1912 Olympics, and subsequently stepped down from his IOC presidency after the 1924 Olympics in Paris, which proved much more successful than the first attempt in that city in 1900. He was succeeded as president, in 1925, by Belgian Henri de Baillet-Latour.
De Coubertin remained Honorary President of the IOC until he died in 1937 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Godefroy de Blonay (1916–1919)
Baron de Blonay was for a time one of the closest confidants of the IOC's legendary second president Pierre de Coubertin. When de Coubertin joined the French army in 1916 de Blonay became acting president of the IOC. A little bit earlier, when de Coubertin nearly ran out of money and took a back seat, de Blonay had been appointed to run an International Olympic executive committee, in lieu of the president. However, it has been suggested that he somehow upset de Coubertin by over-stretching the powers of this committee and it was this that may have caused him, surprisingly, not to have been chosen to succeed as the third I.O.C. president in 1925.
Henri de Baillet-Latour (1925–1942)
Henri de Baillet-Latour was elected IOC President after the founder of the modern Olympic Movement, Pierre de Coubertin, became Honorary President in 1925. He led the IOC until his death in 1942, when he was succeeded by Vice-President Sigfrid Edström.
Sigfrid Edström (1942–1952)
When IOC president Henri de Baillet-Latour died in 1942, Edström was the acting president until the end of World War II, when he was formally elected president. He played an important role in reviving the Olympic Movement after the war.
In 1931, Edström was involved in the controversial decision to ban legendary Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi from competing at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, as he saw Nurmi as a professional athlete. This affected Finlands relationship to Sweden negatively as Paavo Nurmi was considered a Finnish national hero.
In 1952, he retired from his position in and was succeeded by Avery Brundage.
Avery Brundage (1952–1972)
Brundage became vice-president of the IOC after the death of its president, Henri de Baillet-Latour, in 1945. He was subsequently elected president at the 47th IOC Session in Helsinki in 1952, succeeding Sigfrid Edström. At the time he was being considered for this honor, Brundage had two sons with a woman who was not his wife. In order to avoid a political scandal, he requested that his name be kept off the birth certificates.
Opposition to any form of professionalism
During his tenure as IOC president, Brundage strongly opposed any form of professionalism in the Olympic Games. Gradually, this opinion became less accepted by the sports world and other IOC members, but his opinions led to some embarrassing incidents, such as the exclusion of Austrian skier Karl Schranz from the 1972 Winter Olympics. Likewise, he opposed the restoration of Olympic medals to Native American athlete Jim Thorpe, who had been stripped of them when it was found that he had played professional baseball before taking part in the 1912 Olympic games (where he had beaten Brundage in the pentathlon and decathlon). Despite this, Brundage accepted the "shamateurism" from Eastern Bloc countries, in which team members were nominally students, soldiers, or civilians working in a non-sports profession, but in reality were paid by their states to train on a full-time basis. Brundage claimed it was "their way of life." It was revealed after his death that Brundage had been responsible for notifying the IOC of Thorpe's playing professional baseball years before. (Following Brundage's retirement in 1972, Thorpe was reinstated as an amateur by the Amateur Athletic Union the next year. The IOC officially pardoned him in 1982 and ordered that his medals be presented to his family.)
Opposition to any politicization of sport
Brundage also opposed anything that he viewed as the politicization of sport. At the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, US sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists to show support for the Black Power movement during their medal ceremony. Brundage, a white American, expelled both African American men from the Olympic Village and had them suspended from the US Olympic team. Brundage had made no objections against Nazi salutes during the Berlin olympics.
Reaction to the 1972 Munich massacre
He may be best remembered for his decision during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, West Germany, to continue the Games following the Black September Palestinian terrorist attack which killed 11 Israeli athletes. While some criticized Brundage's decision (including L.A. Times columnist Jim Murray, who wrote "Incredibly, they're going on with it. It's almost like having a dance at Dachau"), most did not, and few athletes withdrew from the Games. The Olympic competition was suspended on September 5 for one complete day. The next day, a memorial service of eighty thousand spectators and three thousand athletes was held in the Olympic Stadium. Brundage gave an address in which he stated
"Every civilized person recoils in horror at the barbarous criminal intrusion of terrorists into peaceful Olympic precincts. We mourn our Israeli friends [...] victims of this brutal assault. The Olympic flag and the flags of all the world fly at half mast. Sadly, in this imperfect world, the greater and the more important the Olympic Games become, the more they are open to commercial, political, and now criminal pressure. The Games of the XXth Olympiad have been subject to two savage attacks. We lost the Rhodesian battle against naked political blackmail. I am sure that the public will agree that we cannot allow a handful of terrorists to destroy this nucleus of international cooperation and goodwill we have in the Olympic movement. The Games must go on...."
— Simon Reeve, "One Day in September" (2000)
Opposition to the exclusion of Rhodesia
Brundage strongly opposed the exclusion of Rhodesia from the Olympics due to its racial policies: after the attacks in Munich, Brundage linked the massacre of the Israeli athletes and the barring of the Rhodesian team (see above). He later apologized for the comparison.
Proposal for the elimination of all team sports
Brundage is also remembered for proposing the elimination of all team sports from the Summer Olympics, fearing that the games would become too expensive for all but the wealthiest nations to host, and the elimination of the Winter Olympics entirely due to its pro-European ideology.
Brundage retired as IOC president following the 1972 Summer Games, having had the job for 20 years, and was succeeded by Lord Killanin. He is the only American to hold the IOC presidency.
Lord Killanin (1972–1980)
In 1950, Michael Morris, 3rd Baron Killanin became the head of the Olympic Council of Ireland, and became his country's representative in the IOC in 1952. He climbed up to senior vice-president in 1968, and succeeded Avery Brundage to the presidency of the IOC, being elected on 23 August 1972 at the 73rd IOC Session in Munich, held prior to the 1972 Summer Olympics - between August 21 and August 24, 1972.
During his presidency, the Olympic movement experienced a difficult period, dealing with the aftermath of the tragical Munich games and the financial flop of the 1976 Montréal Olympics. Due to limited interest from potential host cities, the cities of Lake Placid, New York and Los Angeles were chosen for 1980 Winter and 1984 Summer Games without any competing cities. He resigned prior to the 1980 Moscow Olympics, after the massive political boycotts.
Juan Antonio Samaranch (1980–2001)
During his term, Samaranch managed to make the Olympic Movement financially healthy, with big television deals and sponsorships. Although the 1984 Summer Olympics were still boycotted by the Eastern Bloc, the number of nations with a membership of the IOC and participating increased at every Games during Samaranch's presidency. Samaranch also wanted the best athletes to compete in the Olympics, which led to the gradual acceptance of professional athletes.
One achievement of Samaranch has undoubtedly been the financial rescue of the IOC, which was in financial crisis in the 1970s. The games themselves were such a burden on host cities that it appeared that no host would be found for future Olympiads. Under Samaranch, the IOC revamped its sponsorship arrangements (choosing to go with global sponsors rather than allowing each national federation to take local ones), and new broadcasting deals which brought in much money.
It became a tradition for Samaranch, when giving the President's address at the close of each Summer Olympics, to praise the organisers at each Olympiad for putting on "the best ever" Games. He withheld this phrase only once, at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia where the organisation had come under heavy criticism.
What the IOC does with its new-found millions is, however, the subject of much speculation and criticism, with some criticizing the over-commercialization of what used to be a strictly-amateur competition, while others began accusing the IOC of corruption.
Also during his tenure as IOC president, Samaranch insisted that he be addressed with the title of "Excellency", a title used for heads of state. In addition, when he traveled to conduct Olympic business, he would insist on a chauffeured limousine as well as a presidential suite in the finest hotel of whatever city he visited. The IOC put an annual rental (at a cost of US$500,000 per year) at a presidential suite for his stays in Lausanne, Switzerland, where the IOC headquarters are located.
Besides his lavish accommodations, he was increasingly criticized for the judging and doping scandals and rampant corruption that occurred under his watch. A closed-door inquiry later expelled several IOC members for accepting bribes but cleared Samaranch of wrongdoing. Samaranch declared that the IOC's worst crisis was over but a group of former Olympic athletes, led by Mark Tewksbury, continued to push for his removal. There were allegations of vote buying in Salt Lake City, Utah's successful bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The scandal exposed runaway corruption within the IOC.
Jacques Rogge (2001–2013)
Under his leadership, the IOC aimed to create more possibilities for developing countries to bid for and host the Olympic Games. Rogge believes that this vision can be achieved in the not too distant future through government backing and new IOC policies that constrain the size, complexity and cost of hosting the Olympic Games.
For the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Rogge announced in mid-July 2008 that there would be no Internet censorship by the mainland authorities: "for the first time, foreign media will be able to report freely and publish their work freely in China. " However, by 30 July 2008, IOC spokesman Kevan Gosper announced that the Internet would indeed be censored for journalists. Gosper, who said he had not heard about this, suggested that high IOC officials (probably including the Dutch Hein Verbruggen and Swiss IOC Executive Director, Gilbert Felli - and most likely with Rogge's knowledge) had made a secret deal with Chinese officials to allow the censorship, without the knowledge of either the press or most members of the IOC. Rogge later denied that any such meeting had taken place, but did not insist that China adhere to its prior assurances that the Internet would not be censored.
Rogge commented that Usain Bolt's gestures of jubilation and excitement after winning the 100 meter in Beijing are "not the way we perceive being a champion," and also said "that he should show more respect for his competitors." In response to his comments, Yahoo Sports columnist, Dan Wetzel, who covered the Games described him as "...a classic stiff-collared bureaucrat," and further contended that "[the IOC] has made billions off athletes such as Bolt for years, yet he has to find someone to pick on." In an interview with Irish Times' reporter Ian O'Riordan, Rogge clarified, "Maybe there was a little bit of a misunderstanding. […] What he does before or after the race I have no problem with. I just thought that his gesticulation during the race was maybe a little disrespectful." During the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, Rogge delivered a commemoration of Georgian luge athlete Nodar Kumaritashvili, after his deadly accident while practicing in Whistler on February 12, 2010.
He rejected calls for a minute of silence to be held to commemorate the 1972 Munich Games attack during the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympics, despite the standing request of the families of the 11 Israeli Olympic team members who were held hostage and murdered by the Palestinian group Black September. Calls for such a commemoration marking 40 years since the massacre had also come from Jewish organizations worldwide and politicians from the United States, Israel, Canada, Italy, Australia and Germany. He and the IOC instead opted for a smaller ceremony in London that took place on August 6, and one at Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base on the anniversary of the attack, September 5.
Thomas Bach (2013-Present)
Along with Rogge and Brundage, Bach is the third President who was an Olympian and the only President with an Olympic medal (Gold 1976).
- Llewellyn Smith, Olympics in Athens, 677
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