The Olympic Charter is the ultimate set of rules governing Olympism and the way the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Movement as a whole function. It contains the rules adopted by the IOC and establishes relationships with International Federations and National Olympic Committees. Any amendments to it are reviewed before approval during an IOC session.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin handwrote a few rules to organise the modern Olympic Movement, which he had just founded, in 1899. The rules were published in 1908 in the first Annuaire du Comité International Olympique and have since grown into the Olympic Charter we have today.
These rules have been republished, updated and enhanced practically every year since 1908, and expanded from half a dozen pages originally to over 100 in 2019. The document also had several different names before it became the Olympic Charter in 1978.
Olympism’s ultimate rulebook
The Olympic Charter is at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of Olympic rules. It contains 61 articles in 6 chapters, which cover every aspect of Olympism and discuss the various parties’ duties. The first two chapters cover the Olympic Movement and the IOC’s mission, role, status and organisation.
Chapter 3 deals with international federations, which it describes as “international non-governmental organisations governing one or several sports at the world level, which extends by reference to those organisations recognised by [them] as governing such sports at the national level.”
Chapter 4 zooms in on National Olympic Committees, which “develop, promote and protect the Olympic Movement in their respective countries.”
Chapter 5 deals more specifically with the Olympic Games, and Chapter 6 provides measures and sanctions in case of any violations of the Olympic Charter.