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Olympism and Peace Education: a historical analysis
“As long as Olympism evolves, it systematically establishes a system of values and invents a language of symbols and rituals that give physical substance to the abstract pacifist content of its ideology and make it accessible to those who participate in the Olympics event solely as spectators. Such symbols include the Olympic rings and the Olympic flag, the Olympic anthem and the Olympic oath, whilst rituals such as the torch relay, the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games, and the parade of athletes incorporated into them play a similar role.
The Olympic rings, which are also depicted on the Olympic flag, were designed by Coubertin himself in 1913 and were presented in the 6th International Olympic Congress in Paris in 1914, which celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Olympic movement.The five rings, in five different colours, symbolize ‘the five parts of the world’ and together with the white of the flag, all nations without exception.Therefore, it is a ‘truly international emblem’: all nations and all continents are represented without distinctions in the international institution of the Olympic Games.
The doves released during the closing ceremony of the first Athens Olympic Games and subsequently in the opening ceremonies from 1920, also alluded to peace.”“Obviously, peace education is not the subject of a class, but rather a common educational theme that runs through all classes of the curriculum. It is not realistic to pursue the development of moral values and mindsets in children by teaching them only one course. Olympic education, therefore, must work together and communicate with other subjects, investing more in the practical rather than the theoretical aspect of learning. It is more likely that the children pick up on behaviour through sports, rather than books and to apply it outside of school. There is a serious issue to be addressed when we implement an Olympic education programme with global aspirations.
How do we apply a system of common moral values and cultural models – of Olympism in the case at hand – in all countries and all nations worldwide?It is different to impose a set of rules according to which a sports event will be carried out and different for these rules to be moral considerations, on whose basis people act in their social life, outside the stadium and the sporting field. Nonetheless, peace with all the behaviours that it entails, is the sole Olympic value that can be considered as truly global, beyond cultural differences, and which, through the global Olympic movement, may touch any corner of the planet.”