The historic manuscript laying out the original plans to revive the Olympic Games was donated to The Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, almost 130 years after it was written by Baron Pierre de Coubertin. The donation was made by Alisher Usmanov, who is also President of the International Fencing Federation.
The 14-page manuscript contains the speech in which Coubertin first presented his visionary idea to revive the Olympic Games in the modern world. It was delivered on 25 November 1892 at the old Sorbonne, in Paris, during the celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Union des Sociétés Françaises de Sports Athlétiques – when Pierre de Coubertin was just 29 years old. Two years later, in the same auditorium, the decision to re-establish the Olympic Games was formalised.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said: “Today we are witnessing history. At one level, we are witness to this historic document, the manuscript of the speech that laid out the philosophical foundations of the Olympic Movement. On another level, we are witnessing a historic moment, with this manuscript returning to its Olympic home, the place where it belongs.”
The French manuscript was elegantly written in sepia ink, on 14 leaves of wove paper on the back of blank registration forms for the 1889 International Congress on Physical Education, co-organised by Coubertin during the Paris World Fair. Original pages from the manifesto, showing intriguing revisions, will now go on display at The Olympic Museum – the first time they have been shown to the public. The full document will eventually be put on permanent display.