Pierre de Coubertin

The visionary founder of the modern Olympic Games

Baron Pierre de Coubertin was only 1,62 metres (5’3”) tall, but by many measures, he was a giant of the 20th century. Born into the French aristocracy on 1 January 1863, he became a champion of the common man, embracing the values of France’s Third Republic—liberty, equality, fraternity—as a young adult. 

Destined for the military or the law, Coubertin discovered his life’s work in Rugby in England—and set out on a quest to give French children what British students already had: sport in education. By the age of 25, he had become a leader of French education reform.

At the 1889 Paris Universal Exposition, which attracted 32 million people over six months to marvel at the new Eiffel Tower, he organised the world’s first Congress on Physical Education and Scholar Competitions and began to build the international network of educators, politicians, aristocrats and leaders in commerce, culture and sport who would help him fulfil his Olympic dream. Five years later, on 23 June 1894, in the grand amphitheatre of the Sorbonne, 2,000 people rose in acclamation of his proposal to revive the Olympic Games, designating Athens and Paris as the first two hosts in 1896 and 1900. 

Like so many visionaries, he had his blind spots. Although he said about sport: “For every man, woman and child, it offers an opportunity for self-improvement,” he openly opposed the participation of women in elite track and field events throughout his life. Nevertheless, the participation of women in the Olympic Games grew six-fold under Coubertin’s presidency.  And the all-inclusive ethic he built into the heart of the Movement—“[The Games] are global. All people must be allowed in, without debate”—ultimately shaped his legacy. Over time, the Olympic Games became a triumph of diversity for men and women everywhere, uniting all nations in friendship and peace through sport in the world’s greatest celebration of humanity. 

Life of Baron Pierre de Coubertin

We celebrate the life of Baron Pierre de Coubertin – a man who 125 years ago united all the nations in friendship and peace through sport in the world’s greatest celebration of humanity – the Olympic Games.
Full biography

Coubertin’s perspective on:

GALLERY

6th Olympic Congress, Paris, 1914 - Celebration of the 20th anniversary of the the re-establishment of the Olympic Games at the Sorbonne.
6th Olympic Congress, Paris, 1914 - Celebration of the 20th anniversary of the the re-establishment of the Olympic Games at the Sorbonne.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
6th Olympic Congress, Paris, 1914 - Celebration of the 20th anniversary of the the re-establishment of the Olympic Games at the Sorbonne.
IOC
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 Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN and Marie ROTHAN on their wedding day.
 Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN and Marie ROTHAN on their wedding day.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN and Marie ROTHAN on their wedding day.
IOC
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 London 1908 OG, Athletics, marathon Men - The Queen Alexandra handing a gilded silver cup to Dorando PIETRI (ITA) (disqualified after crossing the line) under the eyes of Pierre de COUBERTIN.
 London 1908 OG, Athletics, marathon Men - The Queen Alexandra handing a gilded silver cup to Dorando PIETRI (ITA) (disqualified after crossing the line) under the eyes of Pierre de COUBERTIN.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
London 1908 OG, Athletics, marathon Men - The Queen Alexandra handing a gilded silver cup to Dorando PIETRI (ITA) (disqualified after crossing the line) under the eyes of Pierre de COUBERTIN.
IOC
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 14th IOC Session, Budapest, 1911 - The IOC Members.
 14th IOC Session, Budapest, 1911 - The IOC Members.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
14th IOC Session, Budapest, 1911 - The IOC Members.
IOC
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6th Olympic Congress, Paris, 1914 - Baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President and the participants, in front of the Palais de la Sorbonne.
6th Olympic Congress, Paris, 1914 - Baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President and the participants, in front of the Palais de la Sorbonne.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
6th Olympic Congress, Paris, 1914 - Baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President and the participants, in front of the Palais de la Sorbonne.
IOC
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16th IOC Session and 5th Congress, Lausanne, 1913 - The IOC Members hosted by Baron de Blonay at the Château de Grandson.
16th IOC Session and 5th Congress, Lausanne, 1913 - The IOC Members hosted by Baron de Blonay at the Château de Grandson.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
16th IOC Session and 5th Congress, Lausanne, 1913 - The IOC Members hosted by Baron de Blonay at the Château de Grandson.
IOC
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Views of the city of Lausanne - The Casino of Montbenon
Views of the city of Lausanne - The Casino of Montbenon
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Views of the city of Lausanne - The Casino of Montbenon
1915
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, 1900-1910.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, 1900-1910.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, 1900-1910.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in his office, rue Oudinot 20 in Paris.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in his office, rue Oudinot 20 in Paris.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in his office, rue Oudinot 20 in Paris.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on a tennis court.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on a tennis court.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on a tennis court.
IOC
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 Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN against Mr. VIENNE at the School of Utilitarian Sports. Pr DUBOIS in the middle.
 Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN against Mr. VIENNE at the School of Utilitarian Sports. Pr DUBOIS in the middle.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN against Mr. VIENNE at the School of Utilitarian Sports. Pr DUBOIS in the middle.
IOC
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 Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN at 10 Boulevard Flandrin in Paris.
 Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN at 10 Boulevard Flandrin in Paris.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN at 10 Boulevard Flandrin in Paris.
IOC
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 5th Olympic Congress, Lausanne 1913 - Opening Ceremony of the Sports Psychological and physiological Congress, presided by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President, in the Palace of Rumine.
 5th Olympic Congress, Lausanne 1913 - Opening Ceremony of the Sports Psychological and physiological Congress, presided by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President, in the Palace of Rumine.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
5th Olympic Congress, Lausanne 1913 - Opening Ceremony of the Sports Psychological and physiological Congress, presided by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President, in the Palace of Rumine.
IOC
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2nd IOC Session in Athens, 1896 - Group photograph of the members. Sitting : Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC Secretary General, Demetrius VIKELAS, IOC Pdt and Aleksey Dimitrievic BOUTOWSKI, IOC member (RUS). Standing : the following IOC members : Karl August Willibald GEBHARDT (ITA), Jiri GUTH-JARKOVSKY (BOH), Ferenc KEMENY (HUN) and Viktor Gustav BALCK (SWE).
2nd IOC Session in Athens, 1896 - Group photograph of the members. Sitting : Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC Secretary General, Demetrius VIKELAS, IOC Pdt and Aleksey Dimitrievic BOUTOWSKI, IOC member (RUS). Standing : the following IOC members : Karl August Willibald GEBHARDT (ITA), Jiri GUTH-JARKOVSKY (BOH), Ferenc KEMENY (HUN) and Viktor Gustav BALCK (SWE).
Pierre de COUBERTIN
2nd IOC Session in Athens, 1896 - Group photograph of the members. Sitting : Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC Secretary General, Demetrius VIKELAS, IOC Pdt and Aleksey Dimitrievic BOUTOWSKI, IOC member (RUS). Standing : the following IOC members : Karl August Willibald GEBHARDT (ITA), Jiri GUTH-JARKOVSKY (BOH), Ferenc KEMENY (HUN) and Viktor Gustav BALCK (SWE).
IOC
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Family Photograph - Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, his wife Marie ROTHAN, Baronness de COUBERTIN, his mother-in-law  Mrs. Rothan and their children : Renée and Jacques de COUBERTIN
Family Photograph - Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, his wife Marie ROTHAN, Baronness de COUBERTIN, his mother-in-law  Mrs. Rothan and their children : Renée and Jacques de COUBERTIN
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Family Photograph - Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, his wife Marie ROTHAN, Baronness de COUBERTIN, his mother-in-law Mrs. Rothan and their children : Renée and Jacques de COUBERTIN
IOC
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In front of the château de Mirville, Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, his brother-in-law Gaëtan de NAVACELLE, Countess and Count Maurice de MADRE.
In front of the château de Mirville, Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, his brother-in-law Gaëtan de NAVACELLE, Countess and Count Maurice de MADRE.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
In front of the château de Mirville, Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, his brother-in-law Gaëtan de NAVACELLE, Countess and Count Maurice de MADRE.
IOC
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Renée s de COUBERTIN and her father Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in Olympia, Greece.
Renée s de COUBERTIN and her father Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in Olympia, Greece.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Renée s de COUBERTIN and her father Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in Olympia, Greece.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN attending a mass in Olympia, Greece.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN attending a mass in Olympia, Greece.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN attending a mass in Olympia, Greece.
IOC
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 24th IOC Session and 8th Congress, Prague, 1925 - Group photograph with Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President (center) and his wife Marie ROTHAN, Baronness de COUBERTIN in front of him.
 24th IOC Session and 8th Congress, Prague, 1925 - Group photograph with Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President (center) and his wife Marie ROTHAN, Baronness de COUBERTIN in front of him.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
24th IOC Session and 8th Congress, Prague, 1925 - Group photograph with Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President (center) and his wife Marie ROTHAN, Baronness de COUBERTIN in front of him.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on a motor tricycle in the south of France.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on a motor tricycle in the south of France.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on a motor tricycle in the south of France.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in Barcelona, 1925.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in Barcelona, 1925.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in Barcelona, 1925.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in Haute-Savoie.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in Haute-Savoie.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in Haute-Savoie.
IOC
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August 4, 1935 - Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN giving a speech on the French Swiss Radio.
August 4, 1935 - Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN giving a speech on the French Swiss Radio.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
August 4, 1935 - Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN giving a speech on the French Swiss Radio.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN rowing in Ouchy harbour.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN rowing in Ouchy harbour.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN rowing in Ouchy harbour.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN pick-nicking with his wife, Marie ROTHAN, and his daughter, Renée de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN pick-nicking with his wife, Marie ROTHAN, and his daughter, Renée de COUBERTIN
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN pick-nicking with his wife, Marie ROTHAN, and his daughter, Renée de COUBERTIN
IOC
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13th IOC Session, Luxembourg, 1910 - IOC Members and Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President.
13th IOC Session, Luxembourg, 1910 - IOC Members and Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
13th IOC Session, Luxembourg, 1910 - IOC Members and Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President.
IOC
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Antwerp 1920 OG, Opening Ceremony - Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President, Alfred Verdyck, Albert I, king of Belgium and Henri de BAILLET-LATOUR, IOC Member (BEL) enter the Olympic Stadium.
Antwerp 1920 OG, Opening Ceremony - Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President, Alfred Verdyck, Albert I, king of Belgium and Henri de BAILLET-LATOUR, IOC Member (BEL) enter the Olympic Stadium.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Antwerp 1920 OG, Opening Ceremony - Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President, Alfred Verdyck, Albert I, king of Belgium and Henri de BAILLET-LATOUR, IOC Member (BEL) enter the Olympic Stadium.
IOC
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Visit of the Ovomaltine factory, Neuenegg, 1932 - In the center, M. CANELLOPOULOS, the Greek ambassador to Switzerland, Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN and Francis-Marius MESSERLI (from the side), Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Switzerland (SUI) surrounded by Greek athletes.
Visit of the Ovomaltine factory, Neuenegg, 1932 - In the center, M. CANELLOPOULOS, the Greek ambassador to Switzerland, Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN and Francis-Marius MESSERLI (from the side), Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Switzerland (SUI) surrounded by Greek athletes.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Visit of the Ovomaltine factory, Neuenegg, 1932 - In the center, M. CANELLOPOULOS, the Greek ambassador to Switzerland, Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN and Francis-Marius MESSERLI (from the side), Secretary General of the National Olympic Committee of Switzerland (SUI) surrounded by Greek athletes.
IOC
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Journey in Spain of baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President, 1925 - Pierre de Coubertin with IOC members in Barcelona harbour.
Journey in Spain of baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President, 1925 - Pierre de Coubertin with IOC members in Barcelona harbour.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Journey in Spain of baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President, 1925 - Pierre de Coubertin with IOC members in Barcelona harbour.
IOC
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 Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN and Thedor SCHMIDT, President of the National Olympic Committee of Austria (AUT).
 Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN and Thedor SCHMIDT, President of the National Olympic Committee of Austria (AUT).
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN and Thedor SCHMIDT, President of the National Olympic Committee of Austria (AUT).
IOC
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Ceremony of transfer of Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN's heart at Olympia, 1938 - Crown Prince Paul of Greece places the urn with Coubertin’s heart in the bottom of the stele dedicated to the Baron.
Ceremony of transfer of Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN's heart at Olympia, 1938 - Crown Prince Paul of Greece places the urn with Coubertin’s heart in the bottom of the stele dedicated to the Baron.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Ceremony of transfer of Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN's heart at Olympia, 1938 - Crown Prince Paul of Greece places the urn with Coubertin’s heart in the bottom of the stele dedicated to the Baron.
IOC
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Antwerp 1920 OG - (1st) Alfred Verdyck CE JO, (2nd) Baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President, (4th) Albert I, King of Belgium and (5e) Count Henri de Baillet-Latour, Belgium (BEL) IOC and Anvers 1920 OCOG Président, enter the Olympic Stadium.
Antwerp 1920 OG - (1st) Alfred Verdyck CE JO, (2nd) Baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President, (4th) Albert I, King of Belgium and (5e) Count Henri de Baillet-Latour, Belgium (BEL) IOC and Anvers 1920 OCOG Président, enter the Olympic Stadium.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Antwerp 1920 OG - (1st) Alfred Verdyck CE JO, (2nd) Baron Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President, (4th) Albert I, King of Belgium and (5e) Count Henri de Baillet-Latour, Belgium (BEL) IOC and Anvers 1920 OCOG Président, enter the Olympic Stadium.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN aged six.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN aged six.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN aged six.
IOC
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23rd IOC Session, Paris, 1924 - Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President with the IOC Membersat the Palais du Louvre.
23rd IOC Session, Paris, 1924 - Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President with the IOC Membersat the Palais du Louvre.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
23rd IOC Session, Paris, 1924 - Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC President with the IOC Membersat the Palais du Louvre.
IOC
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17th IOC Session in Paris, 1914 - Group photograph of the participants. In the middle : Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC Pdt.
17th IOC Session in Paris, 1914 - Group photograph of the participants. In the middle : Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC Pdt.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
17th IOC Session in Paris, 1914 - Group photograph of the participants. In the middle : Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC Pdt.
IOC
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Former IOC members - Portrait of Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC Member (FRA) from 1894 to 1896 and IOC President from 1896 to 1925.
Former IOC members - Portrait of Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC Member (FRA) from 1894 to 1896 and IOC President from 1896 to 1925.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Former IOC members - Portrait of Pierre de COUBERTIN, IOC Member (FRA) from 1894 to 1896 and IOC President from 1896 to 1925.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on the Croisette in Cannes.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on the Croisette in Cannes.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on the Croisette in Cannes.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in French uniform during theFirst World War.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in French uniform during theFirst World War.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in French uniform during theFirst World War.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on a tennis court.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on a tennis court.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN on a tennis court.
IOC
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Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in the Alps.
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in the Alps.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN in the Alps.
IOC
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Group photograph of Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN's Class at Saint-Ignace, a new Jesuit School on Rue Madrid in Paris.
Group photograph of Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN's Class at Saint-Ignace, a new Jesuit School on Rue Madrid in Paris.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Group photograph of Baron Pierre de COUBERTIN's Class at Saint-Ignace, a new Jesuit School on Rue Madrid in Paris.
IOC
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Group photograph of Pierre de COUBERTIN (in the middle) with his Racing Football Team.
Group photograph of Pierre de COUBERTIN (in the middle) with his Racing Football Team.
Pierre de COUBERTIN
Group photograph of Pierre de COUBERTIN (in the middle) with his Racing Football Team.
IOC
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