Critical Issues and Questions Concerning the Sustainable Future of the Olympic Movement

  Salepi, Paraskevi. “Critical Issues and Questions Concerning the Sustainable Future of the Olympic Movement.” CHS Research Bulletin 9 (2021).

CHS–International Olympic Academy Pre-doc Fellow in Sport and Society 2020–21


The paper presented the events that shaped the course of the modern Olympic Movement in order to approach the research issues that need to be investigated. Emphasis was placed on the challenges faced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and extensive reference was made to the issue of reduced interest in hosting the Olympic Games. Then the scientific interest of the researchers in the field was projected, focusing on the issue of the legacy of the Olympic Games, in order to present immediately after the reaction – action of the International Olympic Committee to the emerging obstacles from which the research questions arise. It followed the discussion about the educational legacy of the Olympic Movement. The connection is being made with the work of the International Olympic Academy (IOA) and the National Olympic Academies (NOAs) which are the educational pillars of the Olympic Movement, since the Olympic Movement is primarily an educational movement, according to the intellectual legacy of Baron Pierre de Coubertin.

Research proposals

It found that in recent years, researchers of the Olympic Movement address the issue of reduced interest in hosting the Olympic Games. The academic community needs, through extensive research, to focus on the problems that have arisen and to propose solutions. According to Salepi (2021 p.225):

Evidence shows that as far as the part of education within the Olympic Movement is concerned, in addition to the IOA and the NOAs, the IOC implements other mechanisms. These concern the Olympic Values Education Program… the International Pierre de Coubertin Commission…, the Olympic Study Centers worldwide.” She continues that it would interesting, in future research, to examine whether the work and the aforementioned actions converge with the work of the IOA and the NOAS or, if there is any kind of opposition and controversy, in the quest for supremacy and primacy within the Olympic Movement.

It is necessary that the successors of Baron Pierre de Coubertin’s work will protect the Olympic Movement and strengthen its educational role. Moreover, as mentioned above, the Olympic Movement is primarily an Educational Movement. The actions that should be adopted immediately, are the cooperation of the bodies of the Olympic Movement with a special academic committee that will undertake the research actions. In this way the resulting knowledge of the academic committee and their proposals can be processed by the technocrats.

According to Müller, as early as 1928, Baron Pierre de Coubertin states the following:

Stadiums are being built unwisely all over the place … once seats for forty thousand spectators are built, you have to fill them, and that means drawing a crowd. To draw that crowd, you will need a publicity campaign, and to justify the publicity campaign you will have to draw sensational numbers … Almost all the stadiums built in recent years are the result of local and, too often, commercial interests, not Olympic interests at all. Now … people are on the attack against the athletes, accusing them of the corruption that has been forced on them for the past twenty years. … In my view, these oversized showcases are the source of corruption at the root of the evil.”

Personal Evaluation for the grant program

A few months prior to the defense of my thesis, that took place on May 2021, I had the delightful opportunity to gain the respected fellowship form Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies.  My acquaintance with the Center for Hellenic Studies of Harvard University took place in 2011 in Olympia when the first symposium was held. At that time, I worked as volunteer for the symposium on behalf of the International Olympic Academy. I was impressed by the presentations that I was lucky enough to attend and also by the dynamics of the symposium. As I come from the field of sports with the main direction of studies the sports administration and the Olympic Movement I was impressed for the evolution and revival of the Olympic Games of antiquity. I thought I would like to do more research in this area. The opportunity arose for me a few years later through this grant. Although, by the time the specific grant started, I had nearly completed my thesis, and although the pandemic hampered the original plans for the grant program, it was a smooth development.

My experience from the meeting in Nafplio in August was stimulating. It seemed how a researcher could find common ground with another researcher from a completely different research field.

The access to the electronic database was helpful for my research but unfortunately I regret did not make use of the grant for purchasing books on my topic.

Sincere thanks along with gratitude goes to the personnel of the Center for Hellenic Studies who is in charge for this program, in specific to, Dr. Christos Giannopoulos (calming force), Evangelos Katsarelis (patient and efficient) and Christina Lafi (sweet and dynamic). Of course the assistance of Marilena Katsadoraki on behalf of the International Olympic Academy was valuable when needed. 

Last but not least, acknowledgement, credits and deep appreciation and gratitude goes to my supervisor, I cannot think of a better one than Charles Stocking for the specific theme. 

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