The 1905 Congress in Brussels was significant for the fact that different circles, which until then had not had any contact with sport, met for the first time and worked successfully together. Among the participants were teachers, professors, officers, physicians, journalists, sports officials, scientists and writers. The most significant recommendation in Paris in 1906 led to competitions in architecture, sculpture, painting, literature and music, beginning at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm and lasting in one form or another until 1948. In Lausanne in 1913 the main issue was compet-itive sport and whether it caused more harm than good. Former US President Theodore Roosevelt described how he had developed from a weak boy to a self- confident man by practising sport. At the following year's Congress, in Paris again, the Olympic Rings were unveiled while recommendations led to the decision that athletes had to abide by the amateur regulations of their respective IFs, and that the NOCs would be responsible for guaranteeing the amateur status of an athlete. A programme of representatives); Andrew Ryan and Horst Lichtner ( IF representatives); Ser Miang Ng and Walther Tröger ( IOC representatives) and François Carrard ( Expert). Meanwhile the 2009 Congress Commission, composed of the IOC Executive Board ( EB) members and others, is responsible for establishing the general framework of the Congress, determining the themes, validating the content of publications, approving the list of speakers, drafting the recommendations and producing the draft of the final document. This year's Congress, which runs over three days, is being staged conjointly with the 121st IOC Session and ever since 1894 the Olympic Congress has been the cradle of some of the most significant changes to have impacted upon the Olympic Movement. During the 1897 Congress at Le Havre an exchange of ideas on the meaning of sport was a necessary process and Pierre de Coubertin said: " From that day onward nobody among us ( IOC members) ever talked about dissolving or leaving the continuation of our work to others." 30OLYMPIC REVIEW OLYMPIC CONGRESS RightThe 1897 Congress took place at Le Havre Right, below Baron de Coubertin ( centre) with Godefroy de Blonay ( second right) in 1913 BelowDelegates from 1921 " THE OLYMPIC CONGRESS IS A CHANCE FOR ALL MEMBERS OF THE OLYMPIC FAMILY TO VOICE THEIR OPINION AND SHAPE THE FUTURE OF SPORT IN GENERAL AND THE OLYMPIC GAMES IN PARTICULAR. NOCS, IFS, OCOGS, YOCOGS, TOP PARTNERS, COACHES, REFEREES AND, OF COURSE, THE ATHLETES ARE ALL REPRESENTED"
OLYMPIC REVIEW31 OLYMPIC CONGRESS obligatory and optional events for future Games was also outlined for the first time. Returning to Lausanne in 1921 it was decided that France, as the host of the 1924 Olympic Games, would be the first to stage an " International Winter Sports Week". This took place at Chamonix in 1924 and later became officially known as the Olympic Winter Games. In Prague in 1925 the delegates recommended that the Olympic Games be limited to two weeks, a tradition which began at the subsequent Games in Amsterdam in 1928. Prior to that the Olympics had been sprawling affairs spread over several weeks, if not months. Debate at the Olympic Congress of Berlin in 1930, the last before a break of more than 40 years, was at times heated but thereafter the IFs assumed more responsibility for technical procedures at Olympic Games, leaving the IOC more time to address fundamental issues such as amateurism or sport as a political instrument. Despite the long gap, in 1973 the Congress picked up where it had left off and discussions at Varna were the springboard for the new rule which authorised financial assistance for elite level training. Within 20 years the Games were almost fully open to professionals, paving the way for basketball's " Dream Team", tennis champions like Steffi Graf and Roger Federer and footballers such as Brazil's Ronaldinho to grace the Olympic stage. At the 1981 Congress in Baden- Baden athletes played a leading role for the first time with Kip Keino, Sebastian Coe and Soviet ice hockey goalkeeper Vladislav Tretyak all speaking. Their accounts rang with an authenticity nobody dared contradict and paved the way for the creation of the IOC Athletes' Commission. The Centennial Olympic Congress in 1994 was in Paris, just as the first Congress had been. It proved trend- setting in terms of protection of the environment, which was declared an essential component of Olympism. Since 1994 the bidding process for all Olympic Games have required candidate cities to present an environmental programme. In his letter of invitation to the inaugural Olympic Congress of 1894, Coubertin wrote: " It is necessary to preserve the noble and chivalrous character which distinguished athletics in the past, in order that it may continue effectively to play the same admirable part in the education of the modern world as the Greek masters assigned to it... Reform is imperative, and before it is undertaken it must be discussed." Today the Olympic Movement is as strong as it has ever been in many ways, but momentous decisions will have to be made in the near future if it is to retain that strength and its relevance to the modern world. Many of those decisions will be based on discussions that will take place at the 13th Olympic Congress in Copenhagen. ¦