Olympic Charter

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Olympic torch Olympic torch.jpg
Olympic torch

The Olympic Charter is a set of rules and guidelines for the organisation of the Olympic Games, and for governing the Olympic movement. Its last revision was on the 17th of July 2020 during the 136th IOC Session, held by video conference. Adopted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), it is the codification of the fundamental principles, rules and by-laws. French and English are the official languages of the Olympic Charter.



Throughout the history of the Olympics, the Olympic Charter has often decided the outcome of Olympic controversy. As expressed in its introduction, the Olympic Charter serves three main purposes:

Main components

With its 5 chapters and 61 articles, the Olympic Charter outlines in detail several guidelines and rules. This article highlights and summarises those items considered most important to governing the Olympic Games, the Olympic movement, and its three main constituents: the International Olympic Committee, the International Federations, and the National Olympic Committees.

Chapter 1: The Olympic Movement and its Action

Article 2: The mission of the IOC is to promote Olympism throughout the world and to lead the Olympic Movement. This includes upholding ethics in sports, encouraging participation in sports, ensuring the Olympic Games take place on a regular period, protecting the Olympic Movement, and encouraging and supporting the development of sport.

Article 6: The Olympic Games are competitions between athletes in individual or team events and not between countries.

The five-ringed symbol of the Olympic Games. Olympic rings without rims.svg
The five-ringed symbol of the Olympic Games.

Article 8: The Olympic symbol consists of five interlocking rings which, from left to right are blue, yellow, black, green and red.

Chapter 2: The International Olympic Committee (IOC)

This chapter outlines the membership, meetings, and guiding doctrines of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Chapter 3: The International Federations (IFs)

Chapter 3 discusses the role of International Federations (IFs) in the Olympic movement. IFs are international non-governmental organisations that administer to sports at the world level and encompass organisations administering such sports at the national level. For each sport that is part of the Olympic Games, an International Federation exists. These IFs work to ensure their sports are developed in a way that agrees with the Olympic Charter and the Olympic spirit. With technical expertise in its particular sport, an IF has control over eligibility for competition as well as details of the venue in which the athletic competition takes place.

Chapter 4: The National Olympic Committees (NOCs)

Article 28: The mission of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) is to develop, promote and protect the Olympic Movement in their respective countries. The role of NOCs within each country is to promote the spirit of Olympicism, ensure the observance of the Olympic Charter, and to encourage ethics in and development of sports. They are in charge of their country's representation at the Games, deciding on a host city for the Games, and cooperation with governmental and non-governmental bodies during the Games.

Chapter 5: The Olympic Games

This chapter addresses the celebration of the Olympic Games, the selection of the host city, the eligibility code for participation in the games, those sports included in the Games, media coverage, publications, and propaganda allowed for the Games.

In addition, Section 3 of this chapter discusses applicable protocol for Olympic functions and events. This includes an outline of use of the Olympic flag, flame, and opening and closing ceremonies. The five rings of the Olympic games signify the five continents.

Chapter 6: Measures and Sanctions, Disciplinary Procedures and Dispute Resolution

This chapter addresses (Measures and Sanctions, Disciplinary Procedures and Dispute Resolution)

Fundamental Principles of Olympism

  1. Olympism is a philosophy of life, exalting and combining in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind. Blending sport with culture and education, Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.
  2. The goal of Olympism is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind, with a view to promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.
  3. The Olympic Movement is the concerted, organised, universal and permanent action, carried out under the supreme authority of the IOC, of all individuals and entities who are inspired by the values of Olympism. It covers the five continents. It reaches its peak with the bringing together of the world's athletes at the great sports festival, the Olympic Games. Its symbol is five interlaced rings.
  4. The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
  5. Recognising that sport occurs within the framework of society, sports organisations within the Olympic Movement shall have the rights and obligations of autonomy, which include freely establishing and controlling the rules of sport, determining the structure and governance of their organisations, enjoying the right of elections free from any outside influence and the responsibility for ensuring that principles of good governance be applied.
  6. The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms set forth in this Olympic Charter shall be secured without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
  7. Belonging to the Olympic Movement requires compliance with the Olympic Charter and recognition by the IOC. [1]

In the media

The Olympic Charter is not simply a matter of unenforced policy for the Olympic Games. Throughout history, it has served as guidance for the proceedings of the Games. Below are a few of the most recent examples:

Protection of Olympism as a belief

There has been a suggestion from Tom Heys, a Legal Analyst from Lewis Silkin that, in the UK, those with a strong belief in Olympism could benefit from protection against discrimination in exactly the same way that followers of Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any other religion are protected. [5] This was after a recent decision on Grainger plc v Nicholson, where it was argued that someone couldn't be made redundant over their belief on Climate Change.

Olympic Congress

The Olympic Congress is organized by the IOC. The Congress include representatives of the constituents of the Olympic Movement. The date and place of the Olympic Congress is determined by the Session. The Session also determines the duties of the president of the Congress. The Olympic Congress' participants are the members, Honorary President, honorary members and honour members of the IOC, the delegates representing the IFs and the NOCs. The representatives of the organizations recognized by the IOC may also take place at the Congress. [6]

See also

Notes and references

  1. "Olympic Charter" (PDF). International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  2. "Ban Urged on Saudi Arabia Over Discrimination", New York Times, 15 February 2012
  3. "Qatar decision to send female athletes to London 2012 increases pressure on Saudi Arabia", Inside the Games, 1 July 2010
  4. "Hurdles the biggest Olympic barrier for Saudi women", Associated Press, 18 February 2012
  5. Heys, Tom (22 August 2012). "Journal - Olympism - a protected belief?". Lewis Silkin. Archived from the original on 27 February 2014. Retrieved 17 March 2021.
  6. https://stillmed.olympic.org/Documents/olympic_charter_en.pdf

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