The future of the Olympic Movement is under threat, warned President of the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis.
Many young people do not know who Baron Pierre de Coubertin – founder of the Modern Olympics – is because of a lack of youth engagement, Lewis said this week.
He claims there is “too much talk and not enough sincere and genuine action” by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to promote sport to young people, particularly in light of the rising popularity of “computer games and various other social and economic issues that negatively impact sport participation”.
“I really hope [IOC President] Mr. [Thomas] Bach and the current President of ANOC (Association of National Olympic Committees), the Sheikh [Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah], speak out and lead the charge in respect of promoting Olympic values education and Olympism,” said Lewis, who was elected to lead the TTOC earlier this year.
“Yes there are Commissions set up to deal with Olympic Values education and Olympic Academies etc. But I don’t think they are supported and taken as seriously as they ought to be. If the NOCs (National Olympic Committees) aren’t behind the efforts then it’s not going to happen. The Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement is under threat.
“The Olympic Movement can’t afford to lose touch, fidelity and belief in the core values. More needs to be done to create awareness among the modern generation at the grassroots level about Olympism. Many young people and athletes don’t know about Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the Olympic values and history. If they don’t know they wouldn’t care.”
Lewis admitted he was “very disappointed” to learn that just two cities – Brașov and Lausanne – had this week submitted bids to host the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games – a avenue he feels is particular important for testing “different sports and formats to better engage young people”.
“I believe the Youth Olympic Games is a critical success factor if we are to build a relationship between the Olympic Movement and the modern generation and future generations, but I am not confident all the IOC members and NOCs support the YOG fully at this time,” he said. “The IOC has to work harder at building consensus that the YOG is a needed event.”
Lewis is confident, however, that Bach “appreciates the challenges facing the Olympic Movement and the IOC.”
“I believe by virtue of his being an Olympic level athlete he has the passion and enthusiasm for sport, the Olympics and Olympism,” he added.
“At the end of the day we all were youths and young people and should have empathy and an awareness of the importance of children, youths and young people to the sustainable development of sport.
“The Olympic Movement’s core purpose surrounds youth and the athletes.”
The IOC responded by saying that the Youth Olympic Games have so far “been a great success”, but admitted that the Movement “must continue to work to engage young people in sport, not just in ‘consuming’ it – but in practising it”.
“The President himself has made it clear that this is one of his priorities for the future,” the statement added.
“The YOG is a great step in that direction, but over the coming year we will continue to work with all our colleagues to see how it we can continue to improve its reach and attraction.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org. Insidethegames is an online blog of the London Organizing Committee that staged the 2012 London Games. The blog continues to cover issues that are important to the Olympic Movement. This article is reprinted here with permission of the blog editors.