The International Olympic Committee and the Olympic System

By Blackshaw, Ian | The International Sports Law Journal, July-October 2008 | Go to article overview
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The International Olympic Committee and the Olympic System


Blackshaw, Ian, The International Sports Law Journal


The International Olympic Committee and the Olympic System By Jean-Loup Chappelet and Brenda Kubler-Mabbott, Routledge, London and New York, 2008, pp. 208 + XVI, ISBN 978-0-415-43168-2, Price: GBP 14.99 (softback)

What is the International Olympic Committee (IOC)? How is it organised, governed and regulated? And what does it actually do? The IOC is easy to describe, but difficult to define from a juridical point of view. This useful monograph is the twenty-fourth volume in a series of publications on Global Institutions, edited by Professor Thomas G. Weiss of the CUNY Graduate Center, New York, USA, the aim of which is to shed light on the history, structure and activities of key international organisations. Previous volumes have covered various United Nations Organs and Specialised Agencies, such as the Security Council and the World Intellectual Property Organisation, and other International Bodies, such as the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank and the European Union, to mention but a few. Within its short compass, this publication on the IOC adequately answers the above often asked questions about the IOC in a clear, concise and very readable way. And also provides, in a concluding Chapter, some food for further thought on the future organisation and governance of the IOC, founded in 1894 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin and some influential friends, for its survival in the Twenty-First Century, especially in view of the challenges facing international sport, including corruption, doping and violence on and off the field of play.

The IOC is often described as a private members' club consisting mainly of high profile gentlemen and also a few ladies from some 70 nationalities. In other words, the international great and the good--the likes of Princess Anne of the United Kingdom and Prince Albert of Monaco. Legally speaking, the IOC is an NGO--a Non-Governmental Organisation--established as a legal Association under Swiss Law under articles 60 -79 of the Swiss Civil Code. As the authors, Dr Jean-Loup Chappelet, Professor of Public Management at the Swiss Graduate School of Administration, and Brenda Kubler-Mabbott, an editor and translator for various international organisations, including the IOC itself, point out, the IOC is an informal civil institution--rather than a formal political one. But how is it regulated both internally and externally, bearing in mind particularly the billion dollar budget that it commands and oversees for organising, staging and safeguarding the Olympic Games--the greatest sporting show on earth--and their values enshrined in the esoteric and arcane ideal of Olympism?

This publication explains the functions of the IOC and the National Olympic Committees (NOCs); the relationship between the IOC and the International Sports Federations (ISFs), in particular, the criteria for them and their sports to be accepted into the Olympic Movement and thus participate in the Olympic Games; the Organising Committees of the Olympic Games, who are entrusted with them; the importance and increasing relationship between the IOC and Governments around the world, not least that of its host country, Switzerland; and the role played by the regulators underpinning the Olympic system: the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the World Anti Doping Agency and the IOC Ethics Commission.

Regarding the legal status of the IOC in Switzerland, the Swiss Government (the Swiss Federal Council), after several requests from the IOC during the 1970s, issued a Decree on 17 September 1981 confirming that the IOC had "the specific character of an international institution" and also confirming two important privileges that the IOC had acquired many years before, namely: exemption from direct tax on its revenues; and the appointment of members of its administrative staff without any limitations on their nationality.

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