Culture and Olympic
Heritage Commission


The Culture and Olympic Heritage Commission advises the IOC Session, the IOC Executive Board and the IOC President on all the activities of the Olympic Movement that are related to culture in the broadest sense of the term - art, history, focus on values, academic research and patrimonial collections – with a view to promoting the Olympic ideals as widely as possible, especially among young people all over the world.

The responsibilities of the Culture and Olympic Heritage Commission are to:

  • Help to achieve optimum implementation of the IOC’s cultural action plan: activities of the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage and Olympic Agenda 2020+5;
  • Facilitate synergies between the various cultural platforms, communities and bodies within the Olympic Movement: academies, museums, NOC and OCOG culture sections, research centres and universities, and recognised organisations, with a view to achieving better overall impact;
  • Consider ways to develop the cultural activities of the Olympic Movement in the future.

The Culture and Heritage Commission is supported by the Culture and Heritage Department. 




Honorary Chair

Director in charge

  • Director of Culture and Heritage


The IOC has launched a series of programmes and activities, such as the World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture, that contribute to raising awareness about the importance of culture and Olympic education.

World Forum on Education, Culture and Sport

A biennial World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture is organised by the IOC and brings together representatives from the world of sport, universities, NGOs, governments and intergovernmental organisations, as well as athletes and young people, to discuss related themes and agree on joint strategies. The aim of these conferences is:

  • to regularly assess the progress made in the field of education, culture and sport by the Olympic Movement;
  • to give an opportunity to provide new knowledge on these issues by sharing experiences and expertise from different sectors of society; and
  • to encourage cooperation  and further development of policies in these matters.

The 7th World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture took place in Durban, South Africa, in December 2010 under the motto “Giving a Voice to Youth”, and concluded with a set of final recommendations which were agreed upon by the more-than 600 delegates.

IOC contests

Olympic Sport and Art Contest

The Olympic Sport and Art Contest was re-launched in 2000 to enable each NOC to further develop an active synergy between the worlds of art and sport, both nationally and regionally.

By holding this competition every four years, the IOC resumed one of its strongest traditions, established by the reviver of the Olympic Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin: the desire to link culture and sport. In the early years of the modern Olympic Games, medals were awarded to the winners of art, literature and music contests.

The contest is open to artists from countries with a recognised NOC and has both a graphic works and a sculpture category. A cash prize as well as a trophy is awarded to each of the three winning artists in both categories.

The theme of the 2012 edition for all works of art was “Sport and the Olympic Values of Excellence, Friendship and Respect”. For this edition, all the winning works in the national phase were exhibited at the House of International Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland. For the international phase, after selection by the international jury, the works of the three medal-winners and five diploma-winners in each category were exhibited at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London.

Click here for general information and the rules
Click here to download the full brochure of all the wining artworks.

Olympic Sport and Literature Contest

Ever since its creation, the IOC has advocated the linking of sport and culture. In 2001 it created the Sport and Literature Contest to strengthen the relationship between literature and the celebration of the Olympic Games.

Open to all NOCs, this competition recognises the best works on the Olympic spirit or Olympic values in the two youth age categories.

To appreciate the spirit of each text and respect the universality of Olympism, the winners in each category are chosen by national juries, in the language of each country and region. The winning works are published in a multilingual brochure aimed at arousing the curiosity of young people as they discover that other youngsters of their age share the same aspirations and ideals. 

Sport and Photography Contest

The association of sport with art and culture is at the heart of the philosophy of the Olympic Movement, and is one of the IOC’s priorities. In this framework, the IOC organises the Sport and Photography Contest. The competition is open to amateur photographers only, and NOCs are encouraged to participate in the competition by organising a national competition in any or all of the three categories and subsequently entering their winning works in the IOC competition. Sport and Singing Contest

In keeping with the tradition of the early Olympic Games, where art and music competitions were organised, the IOC Culture and Olympic Education Commission has already set up art, literature and photography competitions. With the Sport and Singing Contest, the Commission hopes to encourage all NOCs to restore an active synergy between the worlds of music and sport at national and international level and to heighten the perception of the link between the two.

The Contest is open to performers who are nationals of countries with a recognised NOC. There is no age limit for participants, and the basic theme is “Sport and Olympism”. The Contest takes place in two phases: a national phase and international phase, the latter under the responsibility of the IOC Commission. Three winning performances and five runners-up are selected by the IOC jury. In addition, the performers of the first prize-winning song are invited to the Olympic Games.

International Olympic Academy (IOA)
International Olympic Academy

In 1927, Pierre de Coubertin and his friend Ioannis Chrysafis, Head of the Department of Physical Education at Athens University, agreed to set up a centre to study the Olympic Movement and its evolution.

For its part, the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) wanted to create a study centre styled on the Ancient Greek gymnasium.

Their objectives were the same, but it was not possible to implement the project until 1961, through the determination of Jean Ketseas, the HOC Secretary, and Carl Diem, a colleague of Coubertin's. 


From 1961 to 1969, the IOA's activity consisted of an annual Session, during which the participants worked and stayed in tents. The Academy today offers two conference halls, one with 450 seats equipped with the latest technology, a library, rooms (for 250 people), sports equipment, a restaurant and administrative buildings. The IOA is subsidised for the most part (approximately two-thirds) by the Greek government, with the remaining third provided by Olympic Solidarity.

IOA Terms of Reference
  • Create an international cultural centre at Olympia,
  • Safeguard and spread the Olympic spirit,
  • Study and implement the educational and social principles of Olympism.

Its activities include:

  • Annual international sessions, open to one young man and one young woman per NOC,
  • An international postgraduate Olympic studies programme,
  • International sessions for educators and directors of higher institutes of physical education, directors of national Olympic academies and sports journalists,
  • Special sessions for organisations affiliated to the Olympic Movement (NOCs, International Federations and associations of coaches, referees and sports leaders),
  • Special sessions for institutions indirectly linked with Olympism, whose goal is to promote the Olympic values,
  • Conferences on sports science
  • Visits from researchers on Olympic subjects

The main educational work of the IOA is carried out through the sessions it holds every year in Olympia. The sessions are broken down into five basic categories: (1) Session for Young Participants, (2) Session for Educators, (3) Session for Officials of National Olympic Committees and National Olympic Academies, (4) Seminar for Sports Journalists and (5) the Olympic Studies Seminar for Postgraduate Students.

Learn more about the IOA

Cooperation with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO)

In January 2004 the IOC signed a new cooperation agreement with UNESCO, in order to strengthen the cooperation that they had established in 1984 and to join efforts and cooperate to ensure close complementarity between the Olympic ideals and the objectives of UNESCO in the areas of physical education and sport.

Under this agreement, UNESCO and the IOC undertake to cooperate in activities of common interest in the areas of physical education and sport, in particular through the joint organisation of meetings and seminars.

In addition, they endeavour to encourage the development of physical education and sport, as well as the implementation of the relevant clauses of the International Charter for Physical Education and Sport and the Olympic Charter.

Learn more about UNESCO

The International Committee for Fair Play

The International Committee for Fair Play (CIFP), established in 1963, aims to promote the practice of fair play principles, which are essential to sport.

Learn more about the CIFP


Various activities contribute to raising awareness about the importance of culture and Olympic education.

Accessible projects

The IOC supports various activities in order to develop the link between sport and culture in all its forms, encourages cultural exchange and promotes the diversity of cultures.
The Olympic Museum is a living testimony of the interaction between these two worlds. 

Olympic Museum

Sport, art and culture are the traditional pillars of Olympsim, and The Museum gives concrete form to this trinity.

The mission of The Olympic Museum is to make visitors aware of the breadth and the importance of the Olympic Movement; to show them by means of images and symbols that Olympism is not merely a matter of sports competition, but rather a philosophy of life whose roots are deeply embedded in our history.

With this in mind, The Olympic Museum reserves a special place for its young visitors. Special programmes encouraging the discovery of Olympism and the Games are organised to meet the expectations of children, adolescents, schools or other groups of young people. These include themed tours of both permanent and temporary exhibitions, discovery activities, educational materials and more.

The Museum is a centre for for study that bears witness to the Olympic Games and their role in modern society. In addition, it is the universal home of the written, visual and graphic memory of the Olympic Games.

Cooperation with Olympic Solidarity

Olympic Solidarity promotes culture and education by encouraging NOCs and their National Olympic Academy (NOA) to be actively involved in this field by creating, organising and publicising related programmes and initiatives.

It contributes to the IOC activities implemented via the Department of International Cooperation and Development by financially helping certain NOCs wishing to send delegates to the IOC World Forum on Education, Culture and Sport. It also assists NOCs with the organisational costs at a national level of participating in the Olympic Sport and Literature contest and the Olympic Art and Sport contest.

The programme also helps NOCs to set up and carry out individual initiatives on a national basis, by means of programmes and/or specific activities such as the creation of NOAs, establishment of Olympic education programmes in schools and universities, assistance for exhibitions or other cultural activities linked to sport.

Learn more about the Olympic Solidarity Culture and Education programme

Cooperation with the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee (IPCC)

The aim of the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee (IPCC) is to make known as widely as possible the work of the reviver of the Olympic Games and perpetuate his memory all over the world. The IPCC is an association composed of people who wish to pursue this aim and who have themselves often contributed directly to doing so through their writings or actions within the Olympic Movement, either nationally or internationally./p>

The IPCC and its members thus contributed to the publication of a Coubertin bibliography in 1991, and of his main texts (three volumes in French published in 1986), with translations in English (published in 2000) and Spanish (2006).

The IPCC was founded on 19 January 1975 in Lausanne, and was recognised by the IOC in 1978. Its first Chairman was the Swiss doctor, Paul Martin, Olympic 800m silver medallist at the 1924 Games in Paris. Geoffroy de Navacelle de Coubertin, a great-nephew of Pierre de Coubertin, succeeded him and headed the IPCC for more than 12 years. The current IPCC Chairman is the German professor Norbert Muller, a leading specialist on Coubertin's work.

The IPCC recognises the national Pierre de Coubertin committees which pursue the same aims at national level. The oldest one is the French Pierre de Coubertin Committee (founded in 1960), while the most recent is the Mauritius Pierre de Coubertin Committee (founded in 2005).

The IPCC regularly organises:

  • Scientific congresses, including the one entitled "The Relevance of Pierre de Coubertin Today", held in Lausanne in 1986, and "Coubertin and Olympism: questions for the future", held in 1997 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Olympic Congress in Le Havre;
  • Exhibitions, such as "Coubertin and the Greek Miracle" presented in Athens during the summer of 2004 or the mobile exhibition "The life and work of Pierre de Coubertin", which is available in six languages;
  • Youth forums, which bring together for a week at a time classes from Pierre de Coubertin schools around the world, held in Le Havre (FRA) in 1997, Much Wenlock (GBR) in 1999, Lausanne (SUI) in 2001, Genoa (ITA) in 2003, and Radstadt (AUT) in 2005; and
  • Coubertin days as part of the youth camps held during the Olympic Summer Games, notably in Atlanta, in 1996, Sydney, in 2000, and Athens, in 2004.

Learn more about the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee


The Olympic Games are a tremendous opportunity to promote culture and Olympic education.

Cultural Olympiads

In accordance with the Olympic Charter, Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs) organise a programme of cultural events that serve to promote harmonious relations, mutual understanding and friendship among the participants and others attending the Olympic Games. It also includes events in the Olympic Village, symbolising the universality and diversity of human culture as well as events in the host city.

The cultural programmes become veritable cultural Olympiads with events that span the different arts over the four years leading to the Games to culminate during the Games themselves.

In addition, the IOC supports OCOGs for the promotion of their education programmes that are implemented during the four years leading up to the Games.

Olympic Youth Camp

An OCOG with the authorisation of the IOC Executive Board, may, under its own responsibility, organise an international youth camp on the occasion of the Olympic Games.

From a historical perspective, the Youth Camp tradition was born at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, when King Gustav V invited 1,500 boy scouts to set up their tents near the Olympic Stadium, primarily to assist in the organisation and conduct of the Games.

These camps, supported by international organisations dealing with education and youth (UNICEF, UNESCO, etc) and Olympic Movement institutions such as the International Pierre de Coubertin Committee, espoused similar objectives: educate young people through sport; promote cultural exchanges and foster international cooperation; share the Olympic spirit; develop in young people an understanding of, and respect for, different cultures; and promote knowledge and understanding of the historical, geographical and cultural background of the host city and country.

The youngsters who take part in these camps can attend the Olympic Games opening ceremony as well as selected cultural events and sporting events. They also take part in workshops with Olympic themes (eg dance, drama, art) as well as in discussions on Olympic issues. This experience provides the participants with a sense of empowerment, a global network, life long friendships and an increased overall understanding of the Olympic Movement.


Olympiart is a symbolic award that serves to remind the Olympic Movement of the place art has in its midst. Painting, architecture and music have been honoured, with recipients including of Hans Erni, Pedro Ramirez Vázquez and Mikis Theodorakis - all prestigious artists who have a strong interest in sport, peace and youth.

The Olympic Games as a platform for comprehensive programmes

The Olympic Games play a central role to implement Olympic education programmes for a wide range of youngsters – be it through activities on a national level or through initiatives by OCOGs of past and future host cities. In China, the biggest Olympic education programme in history was implemented in his country in the run-up to the Beijing Games.

Some 400 million children from more than 400,000 elementary and secondary schools benefitted from Olympic education, which was integrated into the regular school curriculum. The set-up of an Olympic Education System in China is one important legacy from the Games.

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