The Olympic Charter : its function and historical evolution / by Franck Latty

Latty, Franck

Edited by The Olympic Studies Centre - 2024

This article highlights the uniqueness of the Olympic Charter through the functions it fulfils and its evolution over time. The Olympic Charter is an atypical legal instrument as it serves as the constitution of the Olympic Movement, as the Statutes of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and as the general regulations for the Olympic Games. As a constitution of a private nature, it organises the Olympic Movement while subjecting its constituents to fundamental principles. The Charter also constitutes the founding statutes of the IOC as an association under Swiss law. In addition, the Charter determines the main rules for the Olympic Games, which are complemented by secondary legislation adopted by the IOC. The text of the Charter is the product of a historical evolution that has concerned the name of the instrument, its structure and its content. The name “Olympic Charter” appeared relatively late in the process (1978). The current structure of the Charter itself dates back to the end of the 20th century (1990). It was primarily the need for rules to govern the development of the Olympic Movement, and in particular the Olympic Games, that led the IOC to strengthen the body of the Charter over time. The Charter itself has reflected the evolution of world sport, of which it is a legal mirror, as shown by the example of the question of amateurism or the place of women in sport. The Charter is also evolving to respond to the various threats to sport (doping, manipulation of competitions, corruption, etc.), or to translate into legal terms the IOC’s strategy for the Olympic Movement. Thus, the Olympic Charter is a text in constant “movement”.

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