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The International Olympic Academy

The International Olympic Academy

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Published by Professor Andy Miah

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Published by: Professor Andy Miah on Feb 21, 2008
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Culture @ the Olympics
, 2001: vol. 3, issue 2, pp. 4-8
Culture @ the Olympics
issues, trends and perspectives
The role of the International OlympicAcademy
Andy Miah
The International OlympicAcademy has existed sincethe 1960s and has been thehost to many internationalsporting and Olympicfigures. It began andremains an educationalinstitution, aiming topromote an understanding of Olympic Values.
Each year, it hosts aninternational post-graduateseminar as an attempt to furtherthis mission. This paper is theclosing speech of Andy Miah, co-ordinator for 9th Post-GraduateSeminar on Olympic Studies,2001, International OlympicAcademy.It is customary on these occasionsto begin by thanking the IOAand, in particular, Dr. Georgiadisfor the opportunity to have beenpresent these last six weeks.However, I would like toemphasise my congratulations tothe IOA more broadly, forhosting another very successfulPost-Graduate Seminar.In so doing, I would like toconvey my impression of how theseminar has been successful.On the very first night of theSeminar, Dr. Georgiadisemphasised the principles of theAcademy, stating that tolerancewas a fundamental aspect of theatmosphere within the IOA. It ismy impression that, in statingthis principle, much wasachieved very early on in theprogramme to set an atmospherethat would be friendly andenjoyable throughout thesubsequent weeks.During the seminar I have beenasked on numerous occasionshow this year compares to last,knowing that Dr. Georgiadisspoke very highly of the previouscohort. My answers have beensimilar throughout, which is tosay that I have seen very littledifference in terms of how you allhave worked, played, and livedwith each other. I have seen anability to communicate that hasbeen refreshing and that hasmade my time here for anothersix weeks thoroughlyworthwhile.
www.culturalolympics.org.ukMiah, 2001:
The role of the IOA
With such diverse backgrounds,the potential for differences tobecome a reason fordisagreement can be quite strong.However, in this group I haveseen a very accepting toleranceand an interest to shareimpressions in a way that is notdogmatic, despite the ideashaving been derived from strongculturally located ideas. It is myhope that each of you havinglearnt something about differentways of living, differentapproaches to life and humanrelationships, can be of somebenefit to your lives back home.I would like so say some wordsabout the academic programmeand highlight a couple of topicsthat I have considered to be ofparticular significance.Initially, I would like to speak tothe ideas about the InternationalOlympic Committee during theseminar. I recall that Prof. BruceKidd and Prof. John Daly feltquite strongly that last year thegroup was much morepessimistic about the OlympicMovement than this year.Nevertheless, I have sensed thepotential for a comparablenegativity to surface dependingon how the IOC evolves. It wouldseem that the group has beenvery concerned about thetransparency of the IOC and thatit has argued the need for theCommittee to be publiclyaccountable or, at least, to makeits decisions clear to the broaderpublic. As well, and perhaps incontradiction to this interest isthat the IOC ought not operate ina way that is entirely comparableto a governmental office. For me,the Seminar has not derivedconclusions about what should bethe organisational model for theIOC to follow. Nevertheless, ithas been identified that this is amatter of critical importance forthe future flourishing of theOlympic Movement.Consequently, it has been veryencouraging here to discuss suchmatters and to identify the needfor more dialogue.
Participants at the 9
Postgraduate IOASession (Olympia, 2001)
As well, in the second week arather intense discussion surfacedabout nationalism and thepotential to love one’s country ina way that is not at the expense ofother nations. Speaking withsome of you after the discussions,I was aware that the ideas sharedin this session were personallyrelevant to you and realised thatthis was not simply an academicdiscussion.
www.culturalolympics.org.ukMiah, 2001:
The role of the IOA
Additionally, I considered thatthis discussion was far morerelevant to the seminar thanmany others, although it was notexplicitly about Olympism. Theability of each of you to speakopenly about such matters thathave strong emotionalconnections with you is a tributeto your academic credibility andyour ability to engage in areflective discourse about mattersof utmost political sensitivity.Indeed, this kind of dialogue isprecisely the kind that we wouldhope can take place in mattersrelating to the OlympicMovement regarding its valuesand ideals.In writing this conclusion, I hadwondered what would be itsmessage. Often, closing speechesare placed in the archives of aconference proceedings never tobe read since they often have abanality that is skipped by thereader. As such, I reflected uponmy own experience here and, likeyou have done with yourconclusions and, as you did withProf. Bruce Kidd and Prof. JohnDaly last week, I have somepersonal recommendations basedupon my 12 weeks here at theacademy.Thus, I would like to concludewith some recommendations forthe International OlympicAcademy. Theserecommendations have comeabout from the many personaldiscussions that I have had witheach of you and so I cannot takeany credit for them, but simplyhope that you will join me insharing them.
1. The InternationalOlympic Academy as theleader in open, criticaldiscussion about theOlympic Movement.
Initially, I would like to proposethat the International OlympicAcademy promotes itself as aleader in open, and criticaldiscussion about the OlympicMovement, where academics andstudents can debate current socialissues. As John MacAloon noted,the IOA has aspired to suchambitions for some years.Nevertheless, it is my suggestionthat the IOA formalises suchprinciples within a statement ofits missions and intentions andhave these ratified formally bythe Euphoria and the IOC.In stating these ambitions, it isimportant to note that theconnotation of the word ‘critical’is not simply the discussion ofnegative aspects of the IOC or theMovement’s weaknesses. Rather,it is to recognise the need forongoing dialogue about theseaspects of Olympism and todevelop their coherency in aconstructive manner.

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