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  1. Pierre, baron de Coubertin, originally Pierre de Frédy, (born January 1, 1863, Paris, France—died September 2, 1937, Geneva, Switzerland), French educator who played a central role in the revival of the Olympic Games in 1896, after nearly 1,500 years of abeyance.

  2. Baron Pierre de Coubertin was only 1,62 metres (5’3”) tall, but by many measures, he was a giant of the 20 th 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.

    • Early Life
    • Historical Context For His Lifework
    • Travels and Study of Athletics
    • The Founder of The Modern Olympics
    • The First Modern Olympics
    • Death
    • Legacy
    • Resources and Further Reading

    Born on January 1, 1863, in Paris, Pierre Fredy, Baron de Coubertin was 8 years old when he witnessed the defeat of his homeland in the Franco-Prussian War. He came to believe that his nation’s lack of physical education for the masses contributed to the defeat at the hands of Prussians led by Otto von Bismarck. In his youth, Coubertin was also fon...

    Athletics were becoming increasingly popular through the 1800s, after a long prior period when Coubertin's society was essentially indifferent to sports—or even considered sports to be a frivolous diversion. Scientists in the 19th century began touting athletics as a way of improving health. Organized athletic endeavors, such as baseball leagues in...

    In the 1880s and early 1890s, Coubertin made several trips to America and a dozen trips to England to study the administration of athletics. The French government was impressed with his work and commissioned him to hold "athletic congresses," which featured events such as horseback riding, fencing, and track and field. A small item in the New York ...

    The ambitious plans of Coubertin to revitalize the educational system of France never really materialized, but his travels began to inspire him with a far more ambitious plan. He began thinking about having countries compete in athletic events based on the Olympic festivals of ancient Greece. In 1892, at a jubilee of the French Union of Athletic Sp...

    The decision to hold the first modern Olympics in Athens, at the site of the ancient Games, was symbolic. It also proved to be problematic, as Greece was embroiled in political turmoil. However, Coubertin visited Greece and became convinced the Greek people would be happy to host the Games. Funds were raised to mount the Games, and the first modern...

    During World War I, Coubertin's family suffered hardships and fled to Switzerland. He was involved in organizing the 1924 Olympics but retired after that. The final years of his life were greatly troubled, and he faced severe financial hardships. He died in Geneva on September 2, 1937.

    Baron de Coubertin gained recognition for his work promoting the Olympics. In 1910, former President Theodore Roosevelt, visiting France after a safari in Africa, made a point of visiting Coubertin, whom he admired for his love of athletics. His influence on the institution he foundedendures. The idea of the Olympics as an event filled not merely w...

    “Americans Won Most Crowns: Olympian Games Closed with the Distribution of Wreaths and Medals.” New York Times, 16 April 1896, p. 1. archive.nytimes.com.
    de Coubertin, Pierre, and Norbert Müller. Olympism: Selected Writings. Comité International Olympique, 2000.
    • History Expert
  3. Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (* 1. Januar 1863 in Paris; † 2. September 1937 in Genf) war ein französischer Pädagoge, Historiker und Sportfunktionär. Coubertin trat maßgeblich für eine Wiederbelebung der Olympischen Spiele ein und gründete 1894 das Internationale Olympische Komitee, dessen zweiter Präsident er von 1896 bis 1925 war.

    • Educator
    • Birth of The Idea of Olympics
    • Beginning of The Olympics
    • Struggle
    • Later Life

    Coubertin was an active sportsman, practicing several different sports, including boxing, fencing, horse-riding, rugby, and rowing. He believed that sport was essential for the development of human character, and that through sportsmanship one develops one’s moral energy. He thus saw sport as an important part of the personal development of young p...

    Coubertin envisioned an international competition to promote athletics. A growing interest in the ancient Olympic Games, fed by the archaeological finds at Olympia, gave birth to a plan to revive the ancient games. At a meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris in 1892, Coubertin openly declared his plan: His plan at first inspired littl...

    Despite initial skepticism, Coubertin managed to assemble 79 delegates from nine countries to attend an international congress, held on June 23, 1894, at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Among others, the attendees were from Belgium, Great Britain, France, Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. The congress had a goal of the ...

    Despite its initial success, the Olympic Movement faced hard times, as the 1900 Olympics in Paris, and 1904 Games in St. Louis, were both overshadowed by World's Fairs, and received little attention. In addition, political problems, such as the U.S. team's refusal to lower the Star and Stripes before the King of England, confirmed fears that the sp...

    After the war, Coubertin and his family, wife and two children, moved to their new villa, Mon Ropes in Lausanne, Switzerland. Coubertin subsequently stepped down from his IOC presidency after the 1924 Olympics in Paris, which proved much more successful than the first attempt in that city in 1900. He was succeeded as president by Henri de Baillet-L...

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