20 Years of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia – Association of Sports Federations
The Olympic games were inscribed in culture and history by the Ancient Greeks, who held athletic contests in honour of Zeus at the Olympia Temple in the Peloponnese in the 8th century BC. Athletes had pitted their strength against each other in Olympia for more than a thousand years. The games had survived the Greek wars, the Hellenistic Period and the Roman conquest. In Ancient Greek society the games were considered sacred and encompassed all of Greece. They were the most prestigious sports event, which compelled Pindar to express himself so ardently in one of the stanzas of the first Olympian Ode: 'and from afar off he beholdeth the glory of the Olympian games in the courses called of Pelops, where is striving of swift feet and of strong bodies brave to labour; but he that overcometh hath for the sake of those games a sweet tranquillity throughout his life for evermore'. But their existence was cut short by Roman Emperor Theodosius at the end of the 4th century, when he declared Christianity as the main Imperial religion. Thus pagan religions and pagan rituals, of which the Olympic Games were really a part, were prohibited. The Games were then forgotten for more than a thousand years, while mother nature swept Olympia under the carpet with earthquakes and floods.
The initiator of the modern, cosmopolitan Olympic Games was a Frenchman, Pierre de Coubertin. It is true that he was not the first to have thought of a modern Olympic Games (he had the opportunity to see one of the early versions while visiting W. P. Brookes in Much Wenlock in 1890), but he was the first to succeed in persuading athletes of different sporting disciplines and from different countries to meet at sports competitions following the ancient four-year example. The first time Pierre Coubertin proposed that the Olympic Games be revived was in November 1892, at the fifth anniversary of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques (Union of French Athletic Societies); there he stressed at the end of his speech that sport should be expanded, both in France and at international level, since its free exchange would influence the morale of the old Europe and strengthen the role of peace. There was not much understanding for the idea at first, but Coubertin persisted and promoted the organisation of an international sports congress in June 1894 at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Again, he proposed the revival of the Olympics following the ancient four-year model but with modern sporting disciplines and on an international and amateur basis. The congress supported the proposal and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was established.
Sport gave way to the defence
On 25 June 1991 the Slovenian Parliament adopted the Basic Constitutional Charter on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Slovenia and the Declaration of Independence. The announcement ceremony was held the next evening, with the President of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, Milan Kučan, saying in his speech that on that day dreams were allowed and that nothing would be as it had been before. In the morning of the 'day after', Slovenia woke up to the sound of clanking tanks and the aggression of the Yugoslav Army. War! Sport gave way to the defence of the barely declared state. Already on 27 June the Sports Federation of Slovenia issued a 'recommendation' on postponing all sports competitions in the territory of the Republic of Slovenia and advised Slovenian athletes not to participate in competitions outside Slovenia for safety reasons. On 28 June a 'call' to Slovenian athletes followed, urging them, in view of the 'brutal aggression of the Yugoslav Army', to 'leave Yugoslav national teams and return home as soon as possible, as it would be offensive to the Slovenian people if Slovenian athletes were to defend the colours of Yugoslavia at international competitions in such circumstances'. And return they did. Simultaneously Slovenian sports professionals resigned their positions in Yugoslav sporting bodies and Slovenian federations for different sporting disciplines terminated their relations with their Yugoslav counterparts.
Olympic Committee of Slovenia
But even before that time, discussions had been underway about a new organisation of sport in Slovenia, weighing between two ideas – whether to have one main organisation or the national Olympic committee and separate sports association. Following the discussions, at the beginning of April 1991, the Sports Association of Slovenia informed the Association for Physical Culture of Yugoslavia of a reorganisation, in other words that sports organisations in Slovenia had decided 'to establish the Olympic Committee of Slovenia and will shortly appoint a steering committee for its establishment, which will be chaired by Miroslav Cerar, the greatest Yugoslav athlete of all time'. In the middle of April 1991, the Steering Committee for the Establishment of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia was appointed and a letter of intent sent to the President of the IOC, Juan Antonio Samaranch. And in June, the Steering Committee (President Miro Cerar, Secretary Ivo Daneu, members Evgen Bergant, Janez Kocjančič, Milan Jerman, Janez Sterle and Rajko Šugman) prepared working draft rules for the Olympic Committee and sent them to sports federations, at the same time asking them to nominate candidates for the various bodies. After independence, the Steering Committee paved the way for international recognition and participation of Slovenian athletes in the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville.
At the 89th session of the IOC, on 5 February 1992 in Courchevel, the Olympic Committee of Slovenia (OCS) became a recognised member of the Olympic family.
The Olympic Committee of Slovenia today
Today, the Olympic Committee of Slovenia – Association of Sports Federations (OCS-ASF) is the umbrella sports organisation of the civil society sphere, joining as its members sports societies and clubs in Slovenia and neighbouring countries through national federations for individual sporting disciplines (Olympic, recognised by IOC and non-Olympic) and municipal sports federations (more than 24 regional representatives). In the current year, the OCS-ASF has 113 members, of which 85 are municipal sports federations, 68 national sports federations and 14 other sports associations. There are three independent committees operating as the pillars of work programmes in the OCS-ASF, based on the structure and organisation of sports in Slovenia: the Sport for All Committee, the Top Sports Committee and the Commune-Level Sport Committee. They are led by vice-presidents of the OCS-ASF. In addition, the OCS-ASF has many commissions for particular fields of work: the Athletes Commission, Marketing Council, Slovenian Olympic Academy, Commission for Sport and the Environment, Organisation Commission, Medical Commission, Women in Sport Commission, Commission for Slovenian Trans-Border Sport and Commission for the Financing of Sport. The OCS-ASF is oriented primarily towards promoting the development of basic sports organisations in cooperation with national and municipal sports federations, balancing the conditions and possibilities for the development of sport at local and national levels, ensuring the health protection of athletes, categorising top athletes, developing competition systems, ensuring the respect of tolerance and fair play in all forms of sport in Slovenia, promoting Olympic values, promoting voluntarism, maintaining relations with sports organisations in neighbouring countries, and participating in umbrella international organisations.
Compiled by Brane Dmitrovič, OCS
Photo: Aleš Fevžer, OCS