The IOA operates from the magnificent premises, under the ownership of the Hellenic Olympic Committee, which are situated a few hundred yards from the sacred site of Ancient Olympia. These grounds are sprawled over 900.000m2 of beautiful green and hilly countryside. In 1961, the German Carl Diem, one of the most important figures of the Olympic Movement and a pioneer of the IOA’s creation wrote:”The Olympic Academy that will be established here will be both the continuity of the ancient Academy, the Elis of today and the achievement of Coubertin’s projects to create an academic institution on the Olympic idea”. The IOA’s geographical location determines its ideological identity, which is further enhanced by the choice of the same site for the erection of the commemorative stele where the heart of Pierre de Coubertin rests.
In the beginning participants lived in tents and the lectures were delivered in an outdoor area. In parallel to the sessions, works also started for the development of the site and the building of the facilities. The facilities were gradually completed and include today:
A Conference Centre (1800 m2) built in 3 levels which includes:
- The modern and fully equipped amphitheater “Dimitrios Vikelas” of 450 seats with the provision of simultaneous translation in 8 languages
- One teaching room of 30 seats, one teaching room of 20 seats and four teaching rooms of 10 seats each
- A library with study areas, fully equipped on Olympic and sports related issues (more than 20.000 book titles)
- A soccer field
- A track and field (250m.)
- Two basketball courts
- Two volleyball courts
- Two tennis courts
- A swimming pool (25m.)
- The conference hall “Otto Szymiczek” of 110 seats - the Historical Archive ATHENS 2004
- An administration wing
- Rooms with the provision of accommodating up to 261persons: 25 single rooms (en suite), 62 double rooms (en suite), 14 dormitories of 8 persons (en suite)
- Restaurant and cafeteria
- Wireless internet access is available all over the facilities
The outdoor space of the facilities also operates as an open-air sculpture museum. The specially designed Coubertin Grove contains the commemorative steles of Coubertin, Ketseas and Diem; at the curve of the football field stand a group of sculptures offered by National Olympic Committees from different countries, as well as sculptures by Greek artists. The monuments underline the cultural dimension of Olympism and contribute to the further cultural education of the Academy’s participants and visitors through the messages they convey.
The opportunity for participants to stay in a place that is so close to the ancient cradle of the modern Olympic Movement gives particular significance to the teaching that is offered to them by the Academy. Furthermore, the stay and the activities that these people share together for a long period gives them the possibility to communicate and make contacts over and above the scientific meetings, which many of them consider as the most important part of its operation.
At the Olympic Games of Athens 2004, shot-put events were held in the ancient stadium of Olympia, which hosted a sports competition for the first time in modern history. The premises in Ancient Olympia operated as a mini Olympic Village, providing accommodation and suitable training grounds to shot-putters.
In the premises in Ancient Olympia there is also the symbolic seat of the International Olympic Truce Centre.