Well first of all, apologies for my recent social media hiatus, particularly from this blog, I’ve been trying to cut back in an attempt to finish writing up my MPhil dissertation on Measuring Motivation and Engagement, there will be more on that once it’s done. For this past week and for the next, I’ve also had the privilege of being able to attend the International Olympic Academy (IOA) in Olympia, Greece, as part of my work as GB’s Young Ambassador for the Youth Olympic Games. Today, the 23rd June is also Olympic Day, so where better a place to celebrate?
Ahead of the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore in August The British Olympic Foundation and The Get Set For London 2012 Team are marking Olympic Day with a challenge to all school age children to blog about five new things they have done for each one of the five Olympic rings, so within that context I thought I’d let you know five of the highlights of International Olympic Academy so far, and hopefully within that, some interesting reflections on the Olympic Movement. Details of the Get Set Competition can be found here.
1. First new thing must be the 200 new people under the age of 30, from 95 different countries that have descended upon Greece for this year’s IOA, just like the inaugural Youth Olympics coming up in the Singapore this summer and London in 2012 – the Olympic Movement and the Olympic Games wouldn’t exist without participants. In fact that was the subject of IOC Member Peter Tallberg‘s presentation yesterday, which gave an overview of the different ways that the IOC is seeking to open itself up as an organisation, become more democratic and better support it’s athletes. This is with a view to increasingly better support and seeking guidance of members of public and the communities that host The Games. This was a frank presentation that acknowledged that the IOC has plenty to learn in this area. The discussions that followed covered some of the controversy over the coverage of both the Beijing Games and Vancouver protests and what the participants feel the IOC can do differently in future in this respect. The great thing about being part of such a diverse and energetic group of people, as I am here, is that there are no shortages of people to challenge your perceptions, whether in discussing the role of sport in resolving tensions in Sudan or in ensuring gender equality and empowerment all over the world there is plenty to learn from this great bunch of people!
2. The second new thing this past week was attending an open air classical music concert and opening ceremony at the top of the hill of Sphyx in Athens for the opening ceremony of the IOA, it was a stunning setting being overlooked by the Parthenon, various awards were bestowed on eminent Greeks for this contribution to the Olympic Movement, with awards also being made to Sir Philip Craven head of the International Paralympic Committee and to Irena Szewińska who also presented to us later on in the week.
3. The third new thing this week has been visiting the site of, and understanding more about, the Ancient Olympics. The ancient site of Olympia, of which I can’t help but admit I am now mayor on Foursquare, is fascinating and helped us all gain a clearer understanding of the inspiration behind the Modern Games, particularly the ideals of the Olympic Truce which called for an end to hostilities between Greek states during the Ancient Games. This truce is something that the IOC campaigns alongside the UN to uphold every time The Modern Games is hosted. The role of sport in creating global peace is the title of the proceedings of this session of the IOA and the focus of most of our discussions.
4. The fourth new thing this week been playing bumball, this is apparently a Danish game which involves wearing pieces of velcro on your chest and bum and using them to catch and carry a velcro ball – in effect it is a cross between touch rugby, netball and nothing you’ve ever played before but it’s really good fun and made up one of our early morning physical activities before breakfast this week.
5. The fifth new thing this week is in some respects not a new thing at all, but rather, confirmation that the Olympic Movement, celebrated today on Olympic Day is far more than the Olympic Games. The Olympic Movement headed by the IOC aims to place sport at the service of humanity and thereby to promote peace. This was backed up by a surprising statistic from Peter Tallberg’s presentation that 92% of the IOC’s revenue goes to the development of sport worldwide. It has been inspiring spending time understanding what the Olympics and the Olympic Values of Friendship, Respect and Excellence mean to so many young people from all over the world. Perhaps if we all work together, as we have been over the past week, we can all help make the Olympics that little bit better for everyone. Happy Olympics Day!