It was in 1947 during the 41st Session of the International Olympic Committee in Stockholm, that Doctor Gruss, IOC member in Czechoslovakia, presented a report on a World Olympic Day celebration which would primarily be a day of promoting the Olympic idea. The project was adopted some months later on the occasion of the 42nd IOC Session in St Moritz in January 1948. The National Olympic Committees were put in charge of organising this event and were requested to choose a date between 17 and 24 June, thereby celebrating the foundation of the International Olympic Committee at the Sorbonne, Paris, on 23 June 1894, where Pierre de Coubertin obtained the revival of the Olympic Games.
The first Olympic Day
The first Olympic Day was celebrated on 23 June 1948. On this occasion, Sigfrid Edström, IOC President at that time, conveyed a message to the young people of the world. Portugal, Greece, Austria, Canada, Switzerland, Great Britain, Uruguay, Venezuela and Belgium organised an Olympic Day in their respective countries.
Olympic Day in the Charter
In the 1978 edition of the Olympic Charter, the IOC recommended for the first time that all NOCs organise an Olympic Day to promote the Olympic Movement: “It is recommended that NOCs regularly organise (if possible each year) an Olympic Day intended to promote the Olympic Movement.”
Olympic Day Run
Over the last 20 years Olympic Day has been associated with Olympic Day Runs all over the world. First launched in 1987, the run was about encouraging all National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to celebrate Olympic Day and promoting the practice of mass sport. From 45 participating NOCs in the first edition in 1987, the numbers have grown to more than an hundred participating NOCs.
Olympic Day is nowadays developing into much more than a run or just a sports event. Based on the three pillars “move”, “learn” and “discover”, National Olympic Committees are deploying sports, cultural and educational activities which address everybody - regardless age, gender, social background or sporting ability. Some countries have incorporated the event into the school curriculum and, in recent years, many NOCs have added concerts and exhibitions to the celebration. Recent NOC activities have included meetings for children and young people with top athletes and the development of new web sites directing people to programmes in their neighbourhood. This makes it easier for everybody to become part of Olympic Day. In recent years, the development in Social Media has helped the IOC to boost participation beyond NOC activities.
The Olympic Day Run is one of the symbols of the Sport for All movement.
Great diversity in participants
Every year since 1987, all over the world, the Olympic Day Run unites men, women and children of all age. Today more than 150 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) organise this great sport event.
1948, the story begins
In January 1948 at its 42nd Session in St Moritz, Switzerland, the IOC approved the idea of an Olympic Day. This celebration would be used to commemorate the creation of the IOC on 23 June 1894 in Paris. Olympic Day was held for the first time on 23 June 1948, with a total of nine NOCs hosting ceremonies in their respective countries: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Great Britain, Greece, Portugal, Switzerland, Uruguay and Venezuela.
More than 40 years later, in 1987, the first Olympic Day Run was organised over a distance of 10 km, with 45 NOCs participating. This initiative was launched by the Sport for All Commission of the IOC, and aimed at promoting the practice of sport around the world. It has become a global celebration of the Olympic Day and contributes to the promotion of Olympic ideals all around the world.
In 2008, after more than twenty years of global success, the Olympic Day Run adapted to the specificities of the NOCs by becoming the 'Olympic Day' again. This worldwide event aims at uniting all promotion and Olympic Day and Olympic valures celebration activities of the NOCs.
Move, learn and discover
Since its inception, Olympic Day has broadened its audience, adapting to the local specificities. Numerous NOCs continue to organise the traditional Olympic Day Run but have diversified their activities around the theme of "Move, learn and discover", by proposing the practice of other sports, cultural and educational activities around the Olympic values, and sessions to discover new sports.
More than three million participants
In 2008, year of the XXIXth Olympiad in Beijing, 3.8 million men, women, childen or senior participated throughout the world to the Olympic Day, mobilising 142 NOCs - proof of an ever-growing popularity.