chapter
4 Pages

Introduction

The stadium, adorned with flags from throughout the world, is packed. On a central arena, thousands of performers present a rich, colorful spectacle to spectators both present and the millions throughout the planet watching it on television. At last, the parade of nations starts, beginning with the Greek delegation and continuing with those of every nation in the world, with that of the host country bringing up the rear. The world watches them, acclaims them, admires them. Then, the mood turns from festive to solemn, to dignified, as of the moment when a Head of State rises and proclaims a single phrase announcing the opening of sports competitions to celebrate a new Olympiad of the modern era. Bearers bring a white flag with five colored rings into the arena to the sound of the Olympic hymn, and it is raised high above the stadium. An athlete and an official take the Olympic oath. The world listens. Suddenly, a runner enters the stadium, holding aloft a torch that was lit by the rays of sun in Olympia, Greece, and then carried by a series of bearers, often for thousands of miles, before reaching what will be its unique home for sixteen days. The flame lights a cauldron that will burn, a visible and striking symbol of the sports competitions, for their entire duration. It will only be at the closing ceremony that this symbolic fire will be extinguished, marking the end of this, another edition of an event that has moved human hearts and souls for over a century. The world looks on, spellbound as the flame leaps forth, and then settles in to watch the athletes’ exploits over the coming days: to share their joys, their sorrows, their emotions, their triumphs. Who is not familiar with the Olympic Games, with their ceremonies,

their symbolism, the athletes’ achievements, and even some of the less glorious but highly publicized events surrounding them? But what about the system that has enabled the modern Games to go on from Olympiad to Olympiad since their renovation? Few individuals are

aware of the workings of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), despite the fact that various journalists and writers have attempted to shed light on it-often in the form of highly controversial articles or works. Very few academic works exist, however, on what we shall call the

Olympic system and more specifically on its governance. The aim of this book is thus to analyze how this system functions, how it is governed, and whether-and under what conditions-it will be able to survive in the twenty-first century. There can be no doubt that the major changes that have taken place in sport over recent decades and the problems such as doping, violence, and corruption all constitute a very real threat to the survival of this magnificent, unique event and the system currently behind its celebration. The book begins (Chapter 1) with an overview of the Olympic system

and its main actors organized in three categories: the established actors, the new actors and the regulators. We start by outlining the five pillars of the Olympic system (IOC, Organising Committees of the Olympic Games, National Olympic Committees, International Sports Federations, and National Sports Federations). All of these non-profit organizations could be likened to the five symbolic rings of the Olympic movement, but we interlink them in a different way. We continue with the new public and private actors (governments, sponsors, media, sport leagues) that have taken on an increasingly significant role in the system since the 1970s. To conclude, we outline three recently founded, supposedly inde-

pendent regulatory bodies that serve as “watchdogs” for the system in matters of doping and stakeholders’ rights. This overview, summarized in the form of a diagram comprising 11

rings, reveals the complexity of the relationships within the governance of Olympic sport. Chapter 2 provides a more in-depth presentation of the central

organization within the Olympic system, i.e. the IOC, a club of around 100 men and handful of women from about 70 nationalities. After a historical overview of its growth during the twentieth century under the leadership of only seven presidents, we describe the committee’s organization and its administration in its present form, following the major reform that took place after the so-called Salt Lake City scandal in 1999 and the election of a new president in 2001. The tables include the IOC’s organization chart (never previously published), and its revenues, expenses, and assets. The next two chapters deal with two actors without which the IOC

and the Olympic Games could not exist as we know them. Chapter 3

deals with the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), which are recognized by the IOC as its territorial ambassadors. Their mission is explained, and one of their main sources of financing-an organization called Olympic Solidarity-is presented. Chapter 4 deals with the International Sports Federations (IFs), their recognition and their mission. The General Association of IFs and the World Games (organized for non-Olympic sports) are briefly described. Chapter 5 analyzes the main product and “cash cow” of the Olym-

pic system, i.e. the Summer and Winter Games. It explains how, as of 1896, Pierre de Coubertin completely reengineered this ancient Greek religious gathering and the way in which it has evolved to become a massive global festival. Statistics of the Summer and Winter Games for the last twenty years are provided. The process for becoming a host city is explained, as are the structure and responsibilities of their Organising Committees (OCOGs). Finally, we explore the thorny and much-debated issue of the “gigantism” of the Games, concluding with some reflections on their future. In Chapter 6, we review relationships between governments and the

Olympic system. We start with the status of the IOC in Switzerland, the country that has hosted its headquarters since 1915. We then review the links between the Olympic system and the United Nations system, which have developed considerably over the last two decades. The question of sport within the European institutions is then briefly examined, including the involvement of the Council of Europe and of the European Union and their courts. Finally, a new legal framework inspired by those of the International Red Cross Movement is proposed with a view to improving cooperation between the Olympic system and governments. The three current regulators of the Olympic system are covered in

Chapter 7. The recent historical development and current functioning of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (created in 1983), the World Anti-Doping Agency (1999), and the IOC Ethics Commission (1999) are presented in detail. We also compare these regulators with similar bodies in other domains. The concluding chapter provides reflections on the governance of the

IOC and of the Olympic system. It then moves on to propose five principles that would be of benefit to all sport organizations when dealing with the myriad changes in world sport and continuing to promote this philosophy of sport that is Olympism. The Olympic system has become extremely complex: power, money,

and image have inevitably brought far-reaching changes on what was once a gathering of athletes from throughout the world. Our ambition

here is to clarify its workings and to provide useful information on the organizations that run it, with particular emphasis on the International Olympic Committee. We believe that this work has a place between official publications issued by the organizations in question and the commercial works that tend to appear during the period running up to each edition of the Games. Beyond various historical works and those that are strongly biased, we felt that it was time to provide an overall view of what has become a global phenomenon reaching billions of people on every occasion that the Olympic flag flies over a stadium.