Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863 - 1937)

Pierre de Coubertin was born in Paris, France on January 1, 1863.

At school Pierre was a good student and he enjoyed sports. Later, he became very interested in education and went to study how schools in England were run. He liked the way English schools included physical education and sports for their students and he came to believe that sports were good for young people.

De Coubertin was also a student of history had studied the ideas taught in ancient Greece.


The ruins of ancient Olympia are discovered

Pierre de Coubertin heard about a group of German archaeologists who, in 1875, had discovered theruins of ancient Olympia, in Greece, the site of the ancient Olympic games from 776 BC to AD 394.

The entrance to the stadium in ancient Olympia.

The entrance to the stadium in ancient Olympia.

The Greeks believed that good citizens should be able to do many different things and should participate in the arts, and in athletics. They had started the ancient Olympic Games thousands of years ago to have a time of peace for the people of Greece and a time to celebrate together.


The idea for a modern Olympic Games

With ideas from both the English and the ancient Greeks, de Coubertin went about convincing people from around the world to revive the Olympics. He wanted athletes from all nations of the world to come together every four years for friendly and peaceful competition. This led to the formation of International Olympic Committee and the organisation of the first modern Olympic Games. The first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in the capital city of Athens, in honour of the Greek people.

Ideals of the Olympics

de Coubertin hoped that as athletes from around the world worked and played together at the Olympics they would begin to respect all people and that the Olympic games would:

  • Help develop better citizens through the building of character that comes from participating in amateur sports

  • Demonstrate the principles of fair play and good sportsmanship

  • Stimulate interest in fine arts through exhibitions, concerts and demonstrations during the games, and in so doing contribute to a well-rounded life

  • Teach that sports are played for fun and enjoyment

  • Create international friendship and goodwill that would lead to a happier and a more peaceful world.

His contributions to the Olympic Games

The Olympic flag designed by Pierre de Coubertin

The Olympic flag designed by Pierre de Coubertin

Baron Pierre de Coubertin became the first president of the International Olympic Council and kept the position until 1924. Baron Pierre de Coubertin designed the Olympic flag. He wrote the athlete's oath. He worked out how the opening and closing ceremonies would be run. He created the modern pentathlon for the 1912 Olympics.

 How is he remembered?

  • After his death in 1937, Baron Pierre de Coubertin was buried at Lausanne, Switzerland, the headquarters of the IOC. But his heart was buried near the ruins of ancient Olympia.

  • The Pierre de Coubertin medal (also known as the Coubertin medal) is awarded by the International Olympic Committee to those athletes who demonstrate the spirit of true sportsmanship in the Olympic Games.

  • A minor planet '2190 Coubertin' discovered in 1976, is named in his honour.