Wednesday, August 4, 2010

History of The International Olympic Committee Essay

The Olympics have been a highly regarded pastime for many thousands of people. What many people do not know about though, is what goes on behind the scenes at an Olympic game. I will talk about the history, present, and future of the governing body of the Olympics, the International Olympic Committee, the IOC.

To understand how the IOC works, we must first take a look back at what started it all, the history of the ancient Olympics. The first Ancient Olympics originated in Athens, Greece (Henry 13). Back then, the idea of the Olympics was for Rome to confirm itself as the greatest nation (Henry 13). Over the years, as rulers and nations changed, the idea of the Olympics held with them (Henry 13).

As the nations changed, so did the events, and the events run today are quite different that what was run in the Ancient Olympics (Henry 14). Today in our modern Olympics, you see a vast array of events, with many of them being team oriented (Henry 14). Running Relays, Basketball team, and boating teams are just some of the examples (Henry 14). But in the ancient Olympics, no team events were found, all events were focused on the individual (Henry 14). Some of the event in the ancient Olympics included chariot races, long distance running, and contests of strength (Henry 14). The contests of strength included stone throw, similar to our shot-put throws, gladiator and similar one-on-one battles (Henry 14).

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For such brutal events, one would expect grand prizes, but it was not so. Prizes back then included olive wreaths and their name written on a stone (Henry 14). They did not believe in elaborate gifts for the winners, as they were there to honor there country (Henry 14). When you received your name in stone, that was a big accomplishment, for they were now immortalized in stone (Henry 14).

Compared to the history of the ancient Olympics, the modern Olympics is shorter, but just as interesting, this is also where the IOC came into play. In 1870, a man named Baron Pierre de Coubertine thought of rebirthing the Olympics, as he had read of them in scholars books (Henry 10). He was a scholarly man, and liked the idea of the Olympics; he felt it would bring the world into a new era (Henry 10). He did not expect world peace to come out of this, but it would enlighten many as to the way of ancient civilizations (Henry 10). The Baron was very interested in the individual goal, as the ancient Olympics were (Henry 10). He felt that was it was the individual who could change the world, not the team (Henry 10). Because of those thoughts, many characteristics of the Olympics are the way they are (Henry 10).

So Pierre decide to rebirth the Olympics, but thought that it would need a governing body to enforce, create, and modify the rules (Henry 11). He picked members from eleven different countries, based on the ideas he held of what the Olympics should be like (Henry 11). Of the eleven members, half were friends of Pierre’s, showing that he had complete control over the first few Olympics (Henry 11).

With the birth of the Olympics, came the birth of the International Olympic Committee, or the IOC. Since the start of the modern Olympics, the IOC has made several changes and important decisions regarding the Olympics (Orr 18). The IOC was set up as a normal government, with different councils reporting on different topics (Orr 18). But for every government, there has to be a president (Orr 18). The president of the IOC was the man with the final say on everything (Orr 18). It is a very prestigious title, for in the IOC’s 110-year history, there have only been eight presidents (Leonard para 1). To many people being even nominated for such a title is a huge honor (Leonard para 1). Out of the IOC’s eight presidents, the country of Belgium has held two of them (Leonard para 1). The first was a Belgian doctor who served from 1925 until 1942 (Leonard para 1). The second is the newest president, Mr. Jack Roggue (Leonard para 1). These facts show just how important Belgium has been in the Olympic games (Leonard para 1).

As you figured, each of the past president served anywhere from a ten to twenty-year term (Leonard para 3). The last president to hold office held it for twenty-three years (Leonard para 3). The IOC felt this was too long of a term and has decided now to shorten the terms allowed for presidents (Leonard para 3). These new rules will come to effect with the new president, Mr. Jack Roggue (Leonard para 3). Jack is an orthopedic surgeon from Belgium (Leonard para 4). He has been a surgeon for 20 years, and owns his own practice (Leonard para 4). He has been a part of the IOC for eleven years, and has a long Olympic history (Leonard para 4). Jack was part of the Belgium Rugby team for five years, and participated in two Olympic games (Leonard para 4). He has also participated in two yachting contests for the Olympics (Leonard para 4).

Jack’s road to the presidency is quite the underdog tale. He started as head committee member for anti-doping policies in 1995 (Leonard para 4). He then was the head coordinator for the 2000 Sydney Olympics (Leonard para 4). They were considered one of the most successful Olympics ever, both in viewing, and in logistics (Leonard para 4). Much of this credit was due to Jack’s superb timing and organization (Leonard para 4).

Because of his many great accomplishments, when nominations came up in 2001 for a new IOC president, he was one of the three nominated (Leonard para 4). The other two nominated were the favorites to win, but Jack won for a few reasons (Leonard para 4). One was that both of the other men represent countries with less that clean human rights records (Leonard para 4). The other was that they were both indicted on federal charges (Leonard para 4). Kim Un-Yong, from South Korea, was inditited on a few international laws, and prosecuted (Leonard para 4). He had been a part of the IOC for 20 years, and had been an integral part of it. Dick Pound, from Canada, was the other candidate (Leonard para 4). He was investigated on charges of bribing some high official to help him win the IOC presidency (Leonard para 4). For all of these reasons, when the votes came in, it was a sure win for Jack Rouge.

Jack Roggue is now the president of the IOC, and he has many responsibilities, all of these deal with current events in the Olympics. The most recent Olympics was held in Salt lake City, Utah (Starr para 2). There were many aspects of the Utah Olympics that were different that previous. One of those things was safety. The Olympics in Utah were considered by many to be the safest Olympics ever (Starr para 2). Much more security was added it due to the attacks on September 11 (Starr para 2). But while Utah was known for its safety, it was also know for the scandals preceding it. While the nomination process for the Olympics in 2002 were still being decide, Salt Lake City was allegedly trying to bribe IOC members (Lacayo para 4). When the IOC brought Salt Lake up on these charges, the previous president was extremely lenient on the people being accused (Lacayo para 4). The subject was dropped, and Salt Lake ended up winning the slot for the 2002 Olympics (Lacayo para 4).

Another problem that the IOC had to face for the 2002 Olympics was the popular skating scandal. In the figure skating partners competition, two couples were very closely matched, it came down to a vote, and the Russian team won (Lacayo para 2). There was a lot of controversy, and the other couple team complained to the IOC (Lacayo para 2). The IOC met with the judges, and found that one of the judges felt she was pressured to vote one way (Lacayo para 2). This brought the IOC to the conclusion that a second gold must be issued to the other team (Lacayo para 2). Many people were not happy about the decision, and it was another black mark in Salt Lake’s already tainted Olympic experience (Lacayo para 2).

To make sure that experiences that have happened at Utah and other places in the past don’t repeat, the IOC is constantly keeping one eye on the future events in the Olympics. One of the future problems is that in 8-12 years Mr. Roggue’s term will be done and another president will be selected (Brussels para 5). The IOC has already agreed that terms will be shorter, as in Jack’s case. Jack will be serving an eight year term with the possibility of a four year extension (Brussels para 5). When Jack’s term is over with, the new president will have to deal with many new changes planned already (Knapp para 13). Terms, as mentioned earlier, will become even shorter. The norm they expect will be five to eight years maximum (Knapp para 13).

One item that is on Mr. Roggue’s mind is that in 2008, he must have another Olympic site selected. So far, Athens, Greece holds the spot for the 2008 Olympics (Leonard para 16). But one problem is that the IOC feels that Athens is falling behind their schedule (Leonard para 16). They are already a year behind where they should be (Leonard para 16). If the city falls too far behind, the IOC will have to vote on whether to keep it there or not (Leonard para 16). If the site changes, they will take the next nominated site and begin work (Leonard para 16)

While selecting a site is important, the IOC realized that is must also learn from the mistakes made in Salt Lake, and change rules regarding judging and election of IOC members and judges. Future judges will have to have been internationally recognized for at least two years (Leonard para 6). This will help with judges that are not mature or experienced enough to handle the pressure that comes with the Olympics (Leonard para 6). The judges will receive many background checks, and also take drugs tests from time to time (Leonard para 6). This keeps the judging circuit clean and also makes sure that no judges with criminal backgrounds will be allowed to participate (Leonard para 6).

With the ever increasing technology that our society has, the IOC has plans for new drug testing policies, making use of the technology. It is the IOC’s hope that by 2010, they will be able to drug test everybody, everyday (Knapp para 10). This would benefit many people, first off the athletes, for they will not be able to use performance-enhancing drugs (Knapp para 10). It will also send a signal to viewers everywhere that the IOC stands for what it believes in (Knapp para 10). The only problem that the IOC sees with this is that a general trend that happens is, the more technological, the more expensive (Knapp para 10). So the IOC is hoping that it will be cheap enough to implement and not cause budget problems for the Olympics (Knapp para 10).

With a better understanding of where and why the Olympics started, I hope you realize how important the job of the IOC is in everyday situations and in future events. The Olympics has had a rich past, present, and with the looks of things, it will have a bright future.

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