Paradoxes and contestations of Olympism in the history of the modern Olympic Movement
An analysis of the changing nature of Olympism requires a sophisticated treatment of
stability and change of the values of the ideology over a considerable period. Three points
should be emphasized. First, it is apparent that there are degrees of change. Thus, the
absence of radical transformation does not necessarily imply that important things have
not changed. It is important to note that the delayed formal admission of women into the
Olympic Movement may not necessarily mean that peoples’ perceptions about women’s
participation in sport had not changed during the early years of the Olympic Movement.
However, deeper processes did not facilitate the implementation of a substantial
transformation. Second, the amount of change over time needs to be distinguished from
the question of ‘when’ change occurred. For example, most people agree that many
features of the Olympic Movement are different today from what they were in 1894.
However, it is important to identify whether this change was evolutionary or punctuated,
i.e. that there were key events which accelerated the pace of change. With regard to
women’s participation in the Olympic Movement, one can argue that the change was
punctuated as a result of the external pressures imposed by women’s sport movements in
the 1920s and the organization of Women’s World Games.