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15th International Session for Directors of NOAs – Global Peace Forum
“Should the institution of the Olympic Games prosper, it can become a potent factor in securing universal peace”(Pierre de Coubertin).
The relevance of these words of the visionary nowadays, and how the concept of peace can be ensured through sports and its educational context, could not be better studied in a place other than Ancient Olympia. The land, where the universal concept of Ekecheiria was founded.The participation in the IOA Sessions at the premises of the IOA has been considered, throughout its history, by a lot of visitors, as a micrography of the Olympic village. Representatives from diverse backgrounds have been living together in peace, sharing their differences with respect, transforming their gatherings into strong bonds that enhance mutual understanding and become inspiration for peace, learning timeless values that lead to universalism.In this spirit, the 15th International Session for Directors of National Olympic Academies has been held in Olympia from 10th to 17th May. One hundred and twenty delegates from 81 countries have been present in order to share experiences, study and get valuable feedback from the scientifically based lectures which were delivered throughout the Session, by eminent professors upon the main topic of the Session: “Olympic Diplomacy and Peace” and the special subject: “Peace Education as part of Olympic Education”.
Professor Christina Koulouri during her lecture, explored the link, from a historical point of view, between Olympism and the pursuit of peace, analysing ways in which Olympic education embraces peace education from the very beginning of its creation until the modern times. Professor Thierry Zintz conceptualised sport diplomacy, giving concrete examples of how sport can be an influential instrument for understanding and intercultural dialogue and focused on the European framework and how sport diplomacy is applied. Assistant Professor Sasa Ceraj investigated, scientifically, the ways that sports can lead towards establishing peace and made a historical overview of the dynamic of the Olympic Games, throughout the years, and their power to contribute to a peaceful context, analysing the concept of “Olympic Truce” in ancient times and its relevance nowadays. Associate Professor Sock Miang Teo-Koh examined the concept of peace, how Olympic education interrelates with peace education and the role of the NOAs in the implementation of peace programmes, explaining manners in which they can design such programmes.
Dr Constantinos Filis delivered a research-based lecture on the idea of Truce and how it can be implemented in the challenges of our times. Associate Professor Arnaud Richard set the framework of the diplomacy of sport and studied the media representations of sport and nationalities providing with rhetorical details from the perspective of discourse analysis, which give rise to feelings of identity allegiance. Mr Nils Holmegaard presented how Olympic Movement is in constant evolution, with regard to societal challenges, and the actions being taken on the part of the IOC in different Olympic values areas, regarding Olympic diplomacy and displaced people, making reference to the launch of the Olympic Refuge Foundation. He also highlighted the NOCs’ use of OS promotion of Olympic values programmes within their national context.A reflection of the thought-provoking lectures was also depicted in the well-structured discussion groups; the delegates, shared their experience and proficient background so that they could form a noteworthy and compound outline of issues that provided capacity for reliable outcomes and speculations around the basic topics. Some of the most common debates that have been raised concerned the interrelation between Olympic education and peace education, the role of the IOA and the NOAs in peace education strategies and their implementation through Olympic education, the role of the IOC in world diplomacy, examples of sport diplomacy from different countries that can be an inspiration.
Suggestions on the form of discussion groups as well as the nature of each NOA’s presentation will be put forward and studied for further development.Furthermore, it is also given the opportunity to the established Continental Associations to hold their annual meetings, proceed with planning and organisational arrangements, coordinate their tasks and discuss with other representatives of NOAs for future cooperation.The knowledge and expertise of the lecturers in combination with the already established significant network of the National Olympic Academies, which has been created all these years, by all the representatives participating in the IOA Sessions, gives us the conviction that each year, the awareness gained in the field of Olympic education is becoming more profound, and inevitably, sets higher standards, with regard to the challenges being faced within the Olympic Movement. The IOA is currently undergoing a period of transition and is more than willing to restructure and improve the existing frame, living up to the expectations of the times, with flexibility and mindfulness for the future.
“A reflection of the thought-provoking lectures was also depicted in the well-structured discussion groups.”