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  • Olympic Day celebrations staged worldwide


    With the International Olympic Committee expected to announce the selections of the host city for the 2016 Summer Games in October, Olympic Day celebrations took on heightened meaning for some of the cities bidding to win the Games. Further, most of the more than 205 National Olympic Committees organized special events to commemorate the event on June 23.

    Olympic Day honors the dawning of the modern Olympic movement. On June 23, 1894, Baron Pierre de Coubertine set up a committee at the Sorbonne in Paris to organize the first Games and ultimately create the International Olympic Committee.

    The USOC organized a reception at the U.S. Olympic Complex in Colorado Springs to honor Olympic gold medalists George DiCarlo (swimming), Teresa Edwards (basketball) and Edwin Moses (track and field), all who participated in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

    Chicago 2016 appears to have staged the most complex celebration of the cities bidding to host the 2016 Summer Games. The group organized youth fun runs for thousands of kids at more than 200 parks in the city in the morning and two separate three-mile fun runs for people of all ages in the early evening. It has also set up a celebration at Chicago’s North Avenue Beach, the proposed site of the triathlon start for the 2016 Games.

    The celebration features competitions in several beach volleyball, basketball, wheelchair basketball, volleyball, sit volleyball, soccer, kayaking and softball and will end with a concert.

    In Tokyo, thousands of people celebrated Olympic Day last Sunday with a cultural twist. Many gathered to watch a presentation of the Tokyo Philharmonic with a backdrop of video highlights from past Olympic Games.

    Around the Rings reports that the Brazilian Olympic Committee kicked off a series of events Tuesday in eight states to celebrate Olympic Week. The events included commemorative races, sports clinics and video displays to demonstrate support of Rio's 2016 bid.

    Cities that will host upcoming Games also scheduled celebrations. Sochi 2014, which will host the 2014 Winter Games, held a series of runs from 1K to 10K for ages as young as 10 years old on June 20. The group also staged on June 23 its first meeting of the Sochi 2014 Athletes’ Commission, chaired by four time Olympic gold medalist and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Member Alexander Popov. It also staged a 2014-meter swimming event for residents of Sochi.

    The London 2012 committee announced the launch of its Cultural Olympiad that will comprise its Open Weekend July 24-26. The weekend offers a nationwide collection of events involving arts, culture and sport.

    In the United States, U.S. Olympic gold-medal winning gymnast Bart Connor hosted athletic activities on the Oklahoma River for kids from ages 6 to 14. In Washington, DC, former U.S. Olympic speed skater Nathaniel Mills promoted Olympism by staging an opening ceremony in the morning followed by ice skating in the afternoon at an ice arena.

    Not all Olympic Day events promote Olympism. The animal rights group PETA has scheduled a rally at the Olympics Countdown Clock in Vancouver Tuesday to protest the slaughter of seals in Canada.