Mon. Jul 15th, 2024
A Prelude to Paris 2024

As the world gears up to witness the Olympics, which are due to be held in Paris in about a month, it’s worth noting that it is celebrated every year on June 23rd, unlike the Olympic event itself which takes place every four years.

International Olympic Day celebrates the history, profound significance, and activities associated with the Olympics. This day promotes various activities and a sense of sportsmanship, bringing together a diverse group of people to foster unity and goodwill.

History and Significance

Pierre de Coubertin’s brainchild was reintroducing and reviving the modern Olympic Games. On 23rd June 1894, delegates from nine countries met at the Sorbonne in Paris and unanimously voted in favor of reviving the Olympic Games.

With that decision, the modern Olympic Games commenced in Athens in 1896. The date of the proposal was marked as the starting moment of the Olympics and the founding of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Olympic Day was not officially confirmed until the 42nd IOC session in St Moritz, in January 1948 where the members adopted the project of a World Olympic Day. It also proposed that the National Olympic Committee (NOC) organize events between June 17 and 24 to commemorate the modern Olympic movement’s founding and promote its ideals.

The significance of the Olympics is very much inclined to Pierre’s vision of fostering competition among athletes playing to win while upholding fairness. He believed this would represent the true essence of free trade in the future, symbolizing peace and tranquility among the European nations.

To commemorate the history and significance of the Olympics, International Olympic Day on June 23rd acts as a beacon, shedding light on and reminding us of the impact of the Olympics and its core values: fostering international friendship, brokering peace between countries, and promoting peace through sports. This day encourages various fitness activities, social interactions, and a competitive spirit.

Programs and Initiatives

International Olympic Day is filled with engaging activities through various programs and initiatives, making it lively and fun-filled while rekindling the competitive spirit among participants. This day promotes physical fitness and embodies the Olympic spirit of unity in diversity. Some of the key activities include:

  • Olympic Day Runs: Started in 1978 as per the recommendation of the Olympic charter, the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of every country were requested to conduct runs each year on the 23rd of June. This practice aims to remind people that sport is common for all, transcending age, fitness levels, and physical disability. These events usually consist of a 5km run and a 3km run/walk, both non-competitive and non-timed.
  • Sports Competitions: Conducting sports competitions across the board from local to regional to national levels helps showcase the raw talent of young and aspiring athletes. These competitions include various disciplines such as athletics, football, hockey, swimming, gymnastics, and more, fostering a sense of healthy competition and achievement.
  • Innovative hashtags: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) creates innovative hashtags for fans to engage with by posting pictures, videos, or texts, usually two weeks before International Olympic Day. Promoting audience talent through hashtag-related content would motivate content creators to be more active in their social lives while also increasing their fitness levels, which is the underlying goal. For instance, the IOC has created a hashtag called #Let’sMove for 2024, serving as a platform for people to showcase their moves and potentially inspire athletes as they prepare for the upcoming Olympics. These hashtags can be viewed by celebrated athletes, who might then replicate fan moves in the Olympics, providing great recognition for the fans who originated them.
  • Educational Workshops: These workshops provide basic teachings about the Olympics—what it stands for, its history, significance in both ancient and modern eras, and the challenges associated with it. They are usually conducted through group discussions, one-on-one interactions, and personal sharing of experiences with Olympians themselves. While these workshops are beneficial for everyone, they are especially crucial for children aspiring to excel, grow, and improve as future athletes.
  • Virtual Programs: Leveraging digital programs to create virtual challenges for the audience, especially through Instagram, opens up possibilities for ordinary people to connect with celebrities. When Olympians conduct fitness challenges on Olympic Day, it motivates both young and old people to join the global sporting community. This community fosters a healthy environment for individuals looking to connect, communicate, and share ideas for the greater glory of fitness.

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was established in 1927, with Sir Dorabji Tata serving as its founding president. Registered as a non-profit organization under the Societies Registration Act of 1860, the IOA aims to develop the Olympic movement in India and nurture world-class athletes from the grassroots level to compete in marquee events.

Beyond promoting the Olympic movement, the IOA conducts various initiatives and programs to develop a robust sporting culture in the country, leading to a healthier and more prosperous India with a strong emphasis on fitness.

Role of State Olympic Associations in the IOA

Each state in India has its own Olympic Association responsible for scouting, developing, and promoting athletes to the national level and then onto the international circuit. All the state Olympic associations act as liaisons with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to collaborate and conduct various competitions. They are also responsible for promoting the overall well-being of their state’s people. Their vision aligns closely with that of the IOA, aiming to cultivate a sporting environment within their respective states through active community engagement.

For instance, the Maharashtra Olympic Association is conducting the Olympic Day Run on this International Olympic Day, June 23rd, at Balewadi Stadium in Pune. The event includes a 5km run and a 3km run/walk, which are open to all participants. The focus is on inclusivity, ensuring continuous support and progression for diverse groups, including women, children, and differently-abled individuals, making sports accessible to everyone.

The Anticipation and Impact of the Paris Olympics

The upcoming Paris Olympics will not only be a monumental sporting event, as with every Olympics but it will also celebrate a rich legacy, marking 100 years since Paris last hosted the Games in 1924. This event is expected to be a grand spectacle, showcasing athletic brilliance, team spirit, and the respect that comes along with it. These values of the Olympics are prominently highlighted on International Olympic Day celebrated every year on June 23rd.

World Refugee Day and the Refugee Olympic Team

As we commemorate World Refugee Day on June 20th, it is important to connect this day with International Olympic Day, which echoes the sentiments of the Olympic Spirit of solidarity and inclusion. International Olympic Day rightfully aligns with this year’s theme of World Refugee Day which is “For a world where refugees are welcomed”.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have been collaborating to help refugees participate in sports. The IOC has been instrumental in establishing the Refugee Olympic Team, which first competed at the Rio Olympics in 2016 followed by the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. This year at the Paris Olympics the Refugee Olympic Team will participate for the third time, consisting of 36 athletes from 11 different countries competing in 12 different sports.

Masomah Ali Zada: Inspiring Refugee Success on International Olympic Day

Masomah Ali Zada, an Afghan refugee who rose to prominence as a road cyclist by representing the IOC Refugee Olympic Team in the Tokyo Olympics, beams with pride as she assumes the role of “Chef de Mission”. She will lead the Refugee Olympic Team in Paris 2024, representing not only the 36 athletes who will take part in the Olympics but also more than 120 million displaced people around the world.

Upon receiving news of her appointment as Chef de Mission, Masomah said: “For me, it is a source of pride to be able to represent not only the athletes and the team but also the more than 100 million displaced people around the world. In Paris, we have an opportunity to show the world what refugees are capable of, and redefine the way the world sees us”.

The participation of the Refugee Olympic Team indicates that sports, in general, can serve as a unifying factor in our modern, fractured world. The inclusion of refugees and treating them with kindness, respect, and dignity exemplifies the Olympic Spirit of unity, dignity, and respect towards refugees, providing them with a platform to showcase their skills and strive for excellence.

Keeping up with the Olympic Spirit

The International Olympic Day and the Paris Olympics are intrinsically connected by a shared vision of mobilizing people worldwide to engage in sports and being proactive in conducting small events in the local community to encourage and raise awareness among the people in a small way that they can.

The more inclusive our sporting culture becomes, the more exciting the Games will be and that will make the Paris Olympics even more exciting to watch. As the world eagerly awaits the Games set to begin on July 24, International Olympic Day on June 23 serves as a vital precursor, igniting participation and support from people all around the globe while upholding the spirit of the Olympics which is unity in sport.

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By TFW

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