History

The history of the Hellenic Olympic Committee (HOC) is strongly connected to the history of the revival of the Olympic Games. The HOC was founded in Athens, November 24th 1894 (according to the Julian calendar), with first President Crown Prince Constantine. Its first session was held on the same day with the subject of the organizing of the first Modern Olympic Games, which were finally held in 1896 in Athens from March 25th till April 3rd, in the newly restored Panathenian Stadium. The restoration was achieved thanks to the donation of 920.000 gold drachmas (huge amount at the time) of the magnanimous Georgios Averoff. It should be noted that since its foundation and until the year 2000, the name of the HOC in Greek, had been Committee for the Organizing of the Olympic Games as the purpose of its foundation was the organizing of the first International Olympic Games.

After the success of the First International Olympic Games in 1896 and the impact of Evangelis Zappas’ “OLYMPIANS”, National Olympic Games (1859, 1870, 1875, 1888-1889), the Greek government legislated the first law on sports matters on the 10th of July 1899. This law had a crucial role on the development of sports and Olympism in Greece, as it determined the means adopted by the Greek government for the teaching and development of Physical Education and sports in general and also the competence of the HOC. The law provided for the dissemination of the Olympic spirit and the development of all kinds of sports in Greece. Main competence of the HOC, according to this law was: a) the organizing of the Panhellenic and Olympic Games, b) the managing of the Panathenian Stadium and c) the participation of Greek athletes in sport competition abroad. The same law provided that the HOC should consist of 12 members, who would be administered by the President. The participation of governmental executives and members of the Parliament in the first Plenary Session indicates the importance shown on its foundation. Apart from the 1896 First Olympic Games, the HOC organized at the Panathenian Stadium the First Panhellenic Games in 1901 and the International Olympic Games of Athens on 1906. These Games are unfortunately called today “Mid-Olympics” despite the fact that they had been held under the auspices of the IOC, which until 1972 included them in the official Olympic guide and in all the relevant data it published. It is remarkable that after the Olympic Games in Paris (1900) and in Saint Louis (1904) – that did not meet the world’s expectations – the 1906 Games were the ones who gave the Olympic Movement a new impulse, contributing to the consolidation of the games and the restoration of their lost glory, a fact that was confirmed in the best way by the success of the London 1908 Olympic Games. The HOC, following the German Professor’s Carl Diem proposal, organized the first Olympic Torch Relay – as we know it till today – from Ancient Olympia to Berlin, on the occasion of 1936 Olympic Games. Athens had also secured the approval of the IOC to host the Olympic Games of 1914. However they were cancelled due to the international unrest that led to the outbreak of the First World War. In 1949, the IOC unanimously approved the foundation of the International Olympic Academy (IOA) in Ancient Olympia, under the supervision of the HOC, to which it entrusted with the project of organizing and administrating the Academy. Subsidized by the HOC and under the auspices of the IOC, IOA is situated at the HOC premises in Ancient Olympia since 1961, and the final control of its organizing and operation belongs to the HOC. The aim of the IOA is to promote Olympism and the Olympic Movement on an international level through: a) the annual organizing of International Sessions for Young Participants, Directors or National Olympic Academies Presidents and Executives of National Olympic Academies and International Federations, International Seminars on Olympic Studies for Postgraduate Students, International Session for Educators and Officials of Higher Institutes of Physical Education as well as Sports Journalists, b) encouragement, with the aim to create National Olympic Academies in various countries of the world. The IOA is also responsible for the Museum of the Contemporary Olympic Games, founded in Ancient Olympia in 1961 by the sports fan and art-lover Georgios Papastephanou-Provatakis, who donated it in 1965 to the HOC. Since its foundation, Presidents of the HOC have been: Crown Prince Constantine(1894-1912) King Constantine (1913) Crown Prince George (1914-1917) Miltiadis Negrepontis (1918-1920) Crown Prince George (1921-1922) King George B’ (1922-1923) George Averoff (1924-30/4/1930) Ioannis Drosopoulos (1/5/1930-1936) Crown Prince Paul (1936-1948) King Paul (1948-1952) Kostas Georgakopoulos and Ioannis Ketseas (1953-1954) Crown Prince Constantine (1955-1964) Crown Princess Irene (1965-1968) Theodosios Papathanasiadis (1969-1973) Spyridon Vellianitis (31/1/1973-1974) Apostolos Nikolaidis (30/8/1974-1976) Georgios Athanasiadis (1976-1983) Aggelos Lempesis (14/4/1983-1984) Lambis Nikolaou (1985-1988 and 1989-1992) Antonios Tzikas (1993-1996) Lambis Nikolaou (1997-2000 and 2001-2004) Minos X. Kyriakou (2004-2009) Spyros Capralos (2009 - ) The IOC Members for Greece have been : Dimitrios Vikelas (1894-1899), who was the first IOC President from 1894 to 1896, Alexandros Merkatis (1899-1925), Georgios Averoff (1926-1930), Nikolaos Politis (1930-1933), Aggelos Volanakis (1933-1963), Ioannis Ketseas (1946-1965), ex-King Constantine (1963-1974), Pyrros Lapas (1965-1980), Epaminondas Petralias (1975-1977), Nikolaos Nisiotis (1978-1986) and Nikos Filaretos(1981-2005). Lambis Nikoalou, who has been an IOC member for Greece from 1986 until 2015, has also been IOC Vice President until 2009.

Georgios Averof

Olympic Games 1896, the poster of the games

Dimitrios Vikelas, the first President of IOC 1894-1896