Early Struggles - Coubertin received opposition from many patriotic Frenchmen who wanted French sports to be so distanced from English sports they wanted to rename them. For example, the wanted to change the name from "le football" to "la barrette."
"Friendly association on the fields of sport leads to mutual understanding and peace. Search all of the history and you will find no system of principles that has spread so widely or so rapidly as the brilliant philosophy of Coubertin. He has kindled a torch that will enlighten the world and his fame will continue to increase with the years."
- Avery Brundage, Former President of the IOC

Early Struggles

The period immediately before Coubertin's first Olympics in 1896 was filled with other efforts to renew the Greek tradition. These efforts were in earnest, but were less successful than Coubertin's in part because of their national specificity. One of the earliest, for the English, was carried out by Dr. W. P. Brookes, in Shropshire. His version, entitled "Olympian Games," occurred annually from 1849 through about 1890, and included track and field events, cricket matches, titling at rings on horseback, as well as literary and artistic competitions. A Scandinavian Olympics, or "Jeux Olympiques Scandinaves," took place in 1834 and 1836, and a Greek version occurred sporadically in 1859, 1870, 1875, and 1889. The success of these events was limited, but they helped lay the groundwork for Coubertin's later efforts. Coubertin's struggles to found the Olympics

Since Coubertin's enthusiasm for sport sprung from his desire to promote fitness among the French, his first efforts were not centered around the Olympics but around rebuilding France's athletic organizations. In 1890, he founded the Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA) with the help of his friend Georges St.-Clair. Having worked up to this point soley for the good of France, Coubertin now turned to a more universal project, the modern Olympic Games.

At the celebration to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the USFSA, in 1892, Coubertin proposed the games' revival. Those present were, however, dubious, considering the Olympic Games an ancient spectacle not to be revived. Coubertin was undeterred, and called a larger gathering to the Sorbonne for a conference ostensibly for the purpose of discussing amateurism (In those days, amateurism was defined as the concept that athletic competitions ought to be limited to persons who did not work for a living, effectively banning the lower classes. In later years, it was redefined as the limitation of athletic competitions to persons who did not derive any monetary benefit from any sport, but remained a socially exclusive concept.)

Between the USFSA conference and the Sorbonne conference, Coubertin traveled the United States and Britain in an effort to raise support for his idea. He traveled to Chicago to take place in its "Columbian Exposition," and attended a dinner party at New York?s University Club as a guest of Princeton's Professor Sloane. The Americans were, however, unreceptive, and Coubertin moved on to Britain.

Coubertin's most important stop in Britain was the University Sports Club in London. He obtained support from, among others, the Prince of Wales, and developed some connections with Britain?s Amateur Athletic Association.

The Sorbonne conference which followed was a great success. Amateurism was the topic at hand, but Coubertin made good use of his unique opportunity. He gave the conference a festive atmosphere, filling it with events of various sorts, and eventually proposed to the members there that the Olympic be revived. His idea received unanimous support, and he was allowed (The attendees were authoritative figures in the world of sports.) to create a committee to oversee his efforts, now known as the International Olympic Committee.

Coubertin then undertook both to fill the newly-created IOC. From the start, Coubertin recognized the importance of having an impartical governing body. As such, he chose delegates from a multitude of countries, but also informed the delegates that their primary duty was to the committee, not their nation. Coubertin also took great care to ensure that the committee members were also influential members of society, as he would need their support (political as well as financial) in his early efforts.

At the same time, Coubertin determined that it would be beneficial for the first games to be held in Greece, given the fact that the Olympics are a Greek invention. He consulted Demetrios Bikelas, who was then president of the IOC. Bikelas supported the idea, and thus the 1896 Olympics were held in Greece.