Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dear President of the IOC Rogge: NO, the Olympic Games have NOT - in any sense of the word - Come 'Home' to London...

Dr Jacques Rogge 
President of the International Olympic Committee 
London 2012 Opening Ceremony

'In a sense, the Olympic Games are coming home tonight. This great, sports-loving country is widely recognized as the birthplace of modern sport. It was here that the concepts of sportsmanship and fair play were first codified into clear rules and regulations....

Dear President of the International Olympic Committee, Dr Jacques Rogge,

No, the Olympic Games have NOT - in any sense of the word - come home to London...

No, the concepts of Sportsmanship and Fair Play were not first codified in London! They were around long before that...

After having spent so much time in Greece during the preparations of the Athens 2004 Olympic Games it is impossible to believe that you do not know that the Olympic Games have only ONE home and that is indisputably, irrevocably and forever,   GREECE, 
and GREECE alone.  

In case you have forgotten however, let us remind you that the Olympic Games were born in Ancient Greece and they were reborn in Modern Greece, in Athens, in 1896.

No one, and we repeat, no one, can dispute that, no matter how many carefully chosen words and speeches you make, as you apparently attempt to draw a distinction between the Ancient Olympic Games and the Modern Olympic Games.
In case you have forgotten, let us remind you that Fair Play (Ευ Αγωνίζεσθαι) and Sportsmanship (Ευγενούς Άμιλλας) were concepts related to sport in Ancient Greece and were codified way back then.  

The world owes a huge cultural and scientific debt to Greece, which, as a country, has never received, or asked for, any financial benefit from any of the tremendously significant legacies which her ancestors so generously gave the World, including the Olympic Games.

On the contrary, in 2004, when the time came for the Games to come home in every sense of the word, they ended up being an enormous additional burden for the Greek taxpayer. The excessive financial demands and extreme security requirements imposed on Greece, whilst not the cause, were nonetheless contributing factors to Greece’s dire financial situation today.

In contrast to that,  the IOC has benefited and continues to benefit from the Olympic Games on a daily basis, reaping broadcasting and merchandising royalties, as it takes advantage of the most exclusive and well-controlled ‘brand’ in the world.

Instead of trying to downplay Greece’s role and her significance in the creation of this exclusive ‘brand’, perhaps the time has come for the IOC to give something back to the country that gave birth to the Olympic Games, other than the privilege of parading first in the Athletes Parade of Nations… 
 Even the Olympic Anthem  composed for 1896 by Spiros Samaras with words full of symbolism and significance, traditionally sung in full at most recent Opening Ceremonies, was relegated to 'accompanying instrumental' status in London

In Beijing, the original words below were sung beautifully, in Greek, by the children's choir...

Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, αγνέ πατέρα 
του ωραίου, του μεγάλου και τ' αληθινού 
Κατέβα, φανερώσου κι άστραψε εδώ πέρα 
στη δόξα της δικής σου γης και τ' ουρανού

Στο δρόμο και στο πάλεμα και στο λιθάρι 
Στων ευγενών αγώνων λάμψε την ορμή 
Και με το αμάραντο στεφάνωσε κλωνάρι 
και σιδερένιο πλάσε και άξιο το κορμί 
και σιδερένιο πλάσε και άξιο το κορμί

Κάμποι, βουνά και θάλασσες φέγγουνε μαζί σου 
σαν ένας λευκοπόρφυρος μέγας ναός 
Και τρέχει στο ναό εδώ προσκυνητής σου 
Και τρέχει στο ναό εδώ προσκυνητής σου 
Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, κάθε λαός, κάθε λαός 
Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, κάθε λαός
Ancient Greece, apart from the Olympic Games, the concepts of Fair Play (Ευ Αγωνίζεσθαι) and Sportsmanship (Ευγενούς Άμιλλας) which you made such free reference to at  Friday’s Olympic Games Opening Ceremony in London, also gave birth to thousands  of other words and concepts which have been bequeathed to our modern civilization. 

Hubris is one of them. 

Hubris, defined in Wikipedia as extreme pride or arrogance which often indicates a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one’s own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power…  

By using the power vested in you by virtue of the existence of the Olympic Games, to build up one country at the expense of another, which happens to be the very country whose history has allowed you to wield that power, and in front of billions of people worldwide, is simply ingratitude and hubris.

Leadership carries responsibility. 

It is a mark of true leadership, when one uses the power one has to give credit where credit is due, to inspire and motivate rather than diminish, divide and rule.

Noblesse oblige, 
 Dear Dr Rogge, President of the International Olympic Committee
Noblesse oblige...


as you said so beautifully in Greek only 8 years ago in Athens, 
when the Olympic Games really did come home, 
in EVERY sense of the word! 


  1. I must express my disappointment with the absurd claim that de Coubertin alone resuscitated the modern Olympics.

    This belittles and denies the pioneering thoughts of Alexander Soutsos, the personal and financial support of Epirotes Evangelos Zappas and George Averoff and the sporting leadership of the very first IOC President, Dimitrios Vikelas. Even IOC archives support what they achieved, but unless we Hellenes stand up, the truth will remain in those archives.

    Alexandros Soutsos was a famous Hellenic poet. In 1833, the newspaper Helios published his poem, where he referred to the necessity for reviving the Olympic Games. The newspaper was published in Nafplio, the first capital of the new born Hellenic state, in the Peloponnese.

    Influenced by that poem, Evangelos Zappas proposed the revival of the Olympic Games. Zappas was born in Epirus.

    Zappas decided to propagate the idea and to personally finance the effort. After his agreement with the Hellenic Government, the Zappian Olympic Games were founded. Zappas financed the erection of a building for exhibits, as well as the excavation and restoration of the ancient Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.

    Zappas died in 1865, leaving his immense fortune for the benefit of the modern Olympics with the purpose to be held every four years "in the manners of our ancestors". De Coubertin was to use this money to achieve what Zappas had begun.

    Demetrios Vikelas took over the initiative of establishing the modern Olympic Games. After becoming a member of the Panhellenic Gymnastic Society in Athens, he represented the Society in the International Athletic Congress of 1894 held in Paris. There, he made the first speech suggesting that Athens should be the site of the First International Olympic Games to be held in 1896.

    "I claimed Hellas’ rights with regard to the re-establishment of a Hellenic institution. Indeed, as Victor Hugo put it, the whole civilized world has a common grandmother, but we [the Hellenes] have her as our mother. So we are in a way the uncles of the rest of the peoples. Here is our only advantage, if it is an advantage. Here is the source of my request that the restored Olympic Games be inaugurated on our Hellenic soil".

    After the acceptance of the proposition, Athens became the site of the first institutionalised Olympic Games and Vikelas became the first president of the new-born International Olympic Committee.

    George Averoff, another Hellenic benefactor from Epirus as was Averoff, was a resident of Alexandria. He personally financed the erection of the Athens Polytechnic School, the Military Academy and the High School and the Girls Institution at Alexandria.

    When the Committee for the renovation of the Panathenian Stadium asked him to contribute, Averoff stated that he would undertake the renovation of the ancient Panathenian Stadium, at his own expense.

    Subsequently, George Averoff was greeted by all Hellenism as the principal establisher of the Olympic Games. In memory of his patriotism, his statue was erected in front of the Stadium on the eve of the beginning of the Games.

    So given all of the foregoing, available on the internet and confirmed via IOC Archives, how is it that the Hellenic nation has ever allowed Pierre de Coubertin to claim all of the credit for founding the modern Olympics. Even the Athens 2004 website erroneously gave him credit without any mention of Soutsos, Zappas, Vikelas and Averoff.

    Yet without these men there would have been no idea for reviving the Games, no motivation and impetus and certainly no money.

    It is time that the world recognised what the Hellenes did, over a century ago but which they too have now forgotten.

    Ange T Kenos (Olympic certified weightlifting coach)

  2. Thank you Ange for setting out the facts... for too long Greece has shared her history and her achievements with the world often at her own expense. Time to reclaim and benefit from some of those gifts, especially when those who are receiving them appear less than grateful...


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