NATIONAL OLYMPIC ACADEMIES
The National Olympic Academies are an inherent part of the IOA. Their birth has its grounds on the aims and operation of the International Olympic Academy. Their origin is deep rooted in the IOA’s very existence and since then, they have become a fundamental tool in its mission and course of action.
Throughout the two decades since the IOA’s establishment, National Olympic Academies, in different forms, begun to appear in order to support the IOA activities at a national level and take over the responsibility to promote and safeguard the educational part of the Olympic Movement, a role that the NOCs could not undertake so far. In the IOC manual for the National Olympic Academies in 1989, it is clearly explained “Participation in Olympic Games and in Continental Games recognized by the IOC and the organizational, economic and sports technical questions this involves, leaves the NOCs very little opportunity for reflection on the philosophical principles of the Olympic Movement. Pierre de Coubertin was aware of this shortcoming, even in his day, and mentioned it on several occasions in his speeches and writings” (IOC, National Olympic Academy, Foundation, Perspectives, Activities, 1989). And it continues with the urge, on the part of the NOCs, to establish an NOA “How can the young people of a country become interested in the principles of Olympism unless the NOC provides the necessary information? How can these principles be incorporated into the teaching in schools and further education establishments without assistance from the NOC? In order to fulfil this important requirement on a lasting basis, every NOC and every country needs a National Olympic Academy”.
The NOAs’ evolution came with the commencement of the presidency of Juan Antonio Samaranch (1980-2001), when in 1983, during the meeting of the IOC Commission for the IOA, the IOC strongly encouraged the NOCs to proceed to the foundation of the NOAs, which would act as extensions of the IOA, while in 1984, the IOC President himself sent a circular letter to all the NOCs urging them to establish an NOA in their respective countries. The success story is evidently depicted in the fact that throughout Samaranch’s presidency, 114 NOAs were founded, out of 149 that exist nowadays, and this shows the great influence of this reforming figure in the Olympic Movement.
“The creation of the International Olympic Academy and its extension by means of National Academies, which will henceforth increase throughout the world, was brought about by visionaries, by a few determined and inspired men who thereby rendered an inestimable service to our Olympic Movement. The names of all those who were associated with this occasionally difficult task are now part of our history and have assembled in the pantheon of Olympism together with those who have guaranteed the success and strength of our Movement for almost a century”. (Juan Antonio Samaranch, IOC President, during the Opening Ceremony of the 28th IOA Session for Young Participants, on the Hill of Pnyx).
It was not until 1991 that NOAs were officially included within the role and mission of the NOCs, a reference that was added for the very first time in the Olympic Charter and this was definitely the turning point for the flourishment of the NOAs network and the future physiognomy of the IOA. “They see to the creation of institutions which devote themselves to Olympic education. In particular, they concern themselves with the establishment and activities of National Olympic Academies, Olympic Museums and cultural programmes related to the Olympic Movement” (IOC Olympic Charter, 1991)*. The world has conceived their significance and the NOAs would begin their journey.
Similarly, the NOAs’ role is apparent within the Association of the National Olympic Committees (ANOC) “ANOC and the NOCs contribute to the dissemination of the Olympic ideals through the National Olympic Academies and their representatives at the Session of the International Olympic Academy.”
*The current edition of the Olympic Charter: “The NOCs’ role is: 2.1 to promote the fundamental principles and values of Olympism in their countries, in particular, in the fields of sport and education, by promoting Olympic educational programmes in all levels of schools, sports and physical education institutions and universities, as well as by encouraging the creation of institutions dedicated to Olympic education, such as National Olympic Academies, Olympic Museums and other programmes, including cultural, related to the Olympic Movement”.
The NOAs’ aims at a national level, with the support of the respective NOCs mainly focus on the education of the Olympic idea to young children, teachers of physical education, athletes, trainers, administrators in their country through the implementation of Olympic Education programmes, training courses, organization of Sessions, seminars, competitions at schools, cultural events, publications of Olympic Education manuals, establishment of cooperation with other educational and sport institutions.
Today, the established 149 NOAs, with the support of the IOA, have managed to become the landmark of Olympic Education in their countries. Many NOAs are doing an outstanding work, with the education of hundreds of people and the implementation of Olympic Education programmes all over the country, in cooperation with different Institutions at a national and international level. Due to their creation, the concept of Olympic Education has emerged in all parts of the world, a lot of research is being made at universities and many programmes have been developed worldwide.
The need to find a way to widen the teaching of the moral principles of Olympism and disseminate the Olympic Spirit is becoming stronger. There is no doubt that the National Olympic Academy can act as the prolongation of the International Olympic Academy, at national or local level.