The International Olympic Committee

The Olympic Games is the longest-running, and the most famous sporting event in the world, and can be traced back to 776BC. It takes place every four years in a different specified city in a different country each time. For a city to be awarded the Olympic Games, there is a long bidding process where different cities bid against each other to be awarded the privilege of hosting the games.

The Olympic Games in 2020 are due to be held in Tokyo, Japan.

Given the history and tradition surrounding the Olympic Games, and its core values, the structure and regulation surrounding the games is governed by rules and guidance (the Olympic Charter) and legislation.

What is the Olympic Charter?

The Olympic Charter is the codification of the fundamental principles, rules and bye-laws adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The full role of the International Olympic Committee is set out in the Olympic Charter.

The Olympic Charter governs the organisation and running of the Olympic Movement and sets in stone the conditions by which the Olympic Games are held and celebrated.

What is the International Olympic Committee (IOC)?

The International Olympic Committee is the authority for the Olympic Movement and is made up of volunteers. The IOC ensures full collaboration between all of the parties of the Olympic Family such as the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), the International Sports Federations (IFs), the athletes participating in the games, and the Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOG’s).

The IOC therefore facilitates the regular celebration of the Olympic Games, supports all affiliated member organisations of the Olympic Movement, and strongly encourages the promotion of the Olympic Values.

What is the main role undertaken by the International Olympic Committee?

The role of the IOC is set out in the Olympic Charter, including:

  • To encourage and support the promotion of ethics in sport along with education of youth through sport
  • To promote fair play in sport and rid sport of violence
  • To encourage and support the organisation, development and coordination of sport and sports competitions
  • To ensure the regular celebration of the Olympic Games
  • To act against any form of discrimination affecting the Olympic Movement
  • To encourage and support the promotion of women in sport at all levels
  • To lead the fight against doping in sport
  • To encourage and support measures in order to protect the health of all athletes
  • To encourage and support the efforts of sports organisations and public authorities to provide for the social and professional future of athletes
  • To promote and attain a positive legacy from the Olympic Games to the host cities and host countries
  • To encourage and support initiatives to blend sport with culture and education

Structure of the International Olympic Committee

The IOC is headed by the President of the IOC. Below the President is the Director General who takes responsibility for the administration of the IOC. The Director General runs the IOC with the assistance of the Directors who are at the head of small units responsible for dealing with business in their respective sectors of competence.

The respective sectors of the IOC are as follows:

  • Olympic Games
  • International Cooperation and Development
  • Finance
  • Administration
  • Sports
  • Relations with National Olympic Committees
  • Technology
  • Communications
  • Information Management
  • Television and Marketing Services
  • Medical and Scientific
  • Legal
  • Olympic Museum
  • Olympic Solidarity

The Olympic Movement

What is meant by the Olympic Movement?

The Olympic Movement comprises the following constituent bodies:

  1. The International Olympic Committee
  2. The International Federations
  3. The National Olympic Committees

The International Federations and international non-governmental organisations administer sport at world level, encompassing organisations administering sport at national level. The National Olympic Committees are designed to develop, promote and protect the Olympic Movement in their home countries. They are the only organisations which can select and designate the city which can apply to organise the Olympic Games in their respective country.

What is the main objective of the Olympic Movement?

The main goal of the Olympic Movement is to help build a peaceful, better world through sport. This is achieved by educating youth without discrimination of any kind, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

Furthermore, the Olympic Movement also undertakes the following objectives:

  • To promote sport and competitions through national sporting associations
  • Assistance to develop ‘Sport for All’
  • Advancement of women at all levels of sport
  • The fight against doping in sport
  • Promoting sports ethics and fair play
  • Financial and educational support to developing countries
About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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