It is two years to go until the Paris 2024 Olympics begin! To celebrate, we’re talking with George Hirthler, author of The Idealist, a historical novel about this founder of the modern Olympic Movement. George was recently honored with the International Olympic Committee’s Pierre de Coubertin medal for his service to the Olympic Movement.
We talk with George about the baron’s life and his thoughts on physical education within the French school system, along with his struggles to have it implemented. We also discuss his attitude toward amateurism and whether women should participate in the Games (Pierre’s philosophy might surprise you).
George tells us why he wanted to write about de Coubertin and why he chose to write his story as historical fiction. Plus, he shares what’s in store for readers in the next couple of years.
George is also the person behind the Coubertin Speaks website and Twitter feed, which shares daily inspiration from Pierre de Coubertin. You can follow him on Instagram for the latest updates.
In this episode we also have news from Team Keep the Flame Alive, including:
- Race walker Evan Dunfee
- Figure skater Meagan Duhamel
- Author Roy Tomizawa
- Speedskater Erin Jackson
- Paralympian John Register
- The dulcet (and husky?) tones of Jason Bryant
Plus we have news on Tokyo 2020, Paris 2024 and LA 2028. For all the latest Paris 2024 info, check out our new Paris page!
Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, keep the flame alive!
Note: This is an uncorrected machine-generated transcript. It contains errors. Please do not quote from the transcript; use the audio file as the record of note. If you would like to see transcripts that are more accurate, please support the show.
Jill: [00:00:00] Hello, fans of TKFLASTAN, and welcome to another episode is Keep the Flame Alive, the podcast four fans of the Olympics in Paralympics. I am your host. Jill. Jaracz joined as always by my lovely co-host Alison brown, Alison. Hello? How are you? Oh,
Alison: oh sure.
Jill: Oh, good. Ready for that? Everybody.
Alison: that’s about as much as I remember from high school, French class.
Jill: gonna really have to get down our French because it is very French forward with all things Paris.
Alison: So this week, two years to Paris, 2024, we are gearing up unbelievably how much we have to do in two years, but we’re there. We’re ready.
Jill: It is. As I say on.
Alison: Oh, man, dude, I think we will be saying that a lot.
Jill: today we are celebrating the looking ahead to Paris 2024. When they look back at the man who started it all in the modern Olympic movement, Pierre de Coubertin, who is the founder of the International Olympic Committee.
Today we are talking with George Hirthler who has been involved with the Olympic movement for over three decades, getting a start in the late 1980s by being one of the writers of the Atlanta 1996 bid book, while Atlanta was preparing for the games. George founded the us pier de Coubertin committee in 1993 and continued to champion the ideals of pier de Coubertin as a continued his career, working on Olympic bids for many, many cities in 2004 Sports Business Magazine named him one of the 20 most influential people in the Olympic movement. And in 2016, George wrote a historical novel about Pierre de Coubertin called The Idealist, and he is also behind the Twitter handle. Coubertin Speaks. In 2020, the International Olympic Committee awarded him the PID Coubertin medal for outstanding services to the Olympic movement.
And. Just the third American to be honored with this award and due to the pandemic, he received his medal earlier this year. In light of the fact that we are at two years to go until Paris. We talked with George about the man behind the modern Olympic movement. Take a listen.
George Hirthler: It’s a pleasure to be with you.
Jill: I didn’t realize you were behind the Coubertin Speaks, Twitter handle.
That is you correct? Yeah.
George Hirthler: I wrote that. I started on January one. First of all, I. I have to take you back to explain the origins of that. I founded the United States Pierre de Coubertin Committee in 1993, and we commissioned there were 35 people on the board of directors.
It was, we held all of our meetings at the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games. And one of the major projects we decided to do was to build a statute to commemorate Cuban’s EISM in Centennial Olympic Park, and we commissioned Raymond Caskey out of Washington, DC, a great contemporary sculpture to design a very traditional Statue in the park that has four Greek columns and five doves descending from the Olympic rings, ready to put on Pierre de Coubertin’s head, as he steps up these stairs, ready to put the olive branch around his head.
So it’s very symbolic. We commissioned it and paid $500,000 for it, raised the funds and had it built in Centennial Olympic Park. And it’s still in the park and it’s was during the Olympic games, one of the most photographed objects of the games and it remains, it remains in a very, popular public attraction even today.
So one of the things we did, one of the things that I wanted to do through the United States Pierre de Coubertin Committee, and we raised another $25,000 to do this was to translate Pito Cuban’s Olympic writings into English for the first time. He wrote a lot of things in English, but most of his Olympic writing wrote he left the 16,000 pages in his legacy.
So most of his Olympic writings was in French, including of course all his correspondence, which D IOC has in its archives. So we selected with Norbert Mueller in Germany, a great German Coubertin scholar. We selected about 700 pages of Coubertins Olympic writings and hired a great translator named William Skinner out of Washington, DC.
And we translated that into English. So the IOC published it later. This was around 1996, but we couldn’t get it done in time for the Games. The project just took, took a long time. The IOC finally published it in a book called Olympism. I don’t know if you’ve seen this. [00:05:00] It’s a single volume in English.
It’s called Olympism. There it is. I’m very proud of that. It’s now been translated into Chinese Portuguese, Spanish. I think German and I think, There’s another language. I can’t remember which one. So at some point I decided that I was going to pull some quotes that were inspirational from Cuban’s Olympic writings, which we had translated.
So I got my daughter who was in her mid thirties and I said, I want you to go through here. I hired her for three months to help me with research on The Idealist said, I want you to go through here. She now writes for Facebook by the way. And I want you to see if you can find 365 inspiring quotes from the writings of Pierre de Coubertin.
I don’t want to. Because virtually everything the guy says inspires me. So why don’t you do it? You’re 33 years old. You don’t particularly like old Frenchmen with big mustaches. So go ahead. And she ended up finding over 400 quotes and it took me then. So that was 2013, cuz that’s when I was really starting to work seriously on, on that novel.
She then gave them to me and it was 2018. I sat down on January 1st, 2018 and I had 365 quotes in order, but nothing more than the quotes in the source that they came from in this book. And, I started to write a daily commentary and I wrote for 365 straight days and produced the website Coubertin Speaks.
And now I just recycle it every. So if you happen to be there, if you happen to be looking at it or, on the day in which pong Chung, north and South Korea met in pong Chung on the Olympic truce, you know, to talk about peace between the, the Koreas you’ll find a commentary from 2018 on there.
One of these days I’ll update it. Last year, the Chinese asked me they, they translated The Idealist into Chinese and published it on the 10th anniversary of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. So they brought out a Chinese version of The Idealist. And couple of years ago, they came and said, is there anything else you have that we can publish?
And this was Unity Press was a different a different publisher. The first one was Beijing Publishing Group. And I said, well, I have this website Coubertin Speaks. we could certainly turn it into 365 quotes from Coubertin in a book. And they did. So there’s a, book of 365.
Coubertin quotes plus my commentaries in Chinese. So that’s pretty cool.
Alison: that leads into why Pierre de Coubertin?
What got you started? Why has he had this hold over you?
George Hirthler: The truth Is I was training for a my third marathon in Atlanta in 1988. and um, I was a freelance writer, producer and won all kinds of creative awards in Atlanta.
I’d come out of the ad agency business. And uh, when I launched my freelance writing career, it was 1980. And that was exactly the time when Ted Turner was launching CNN and Headline News. And so I was doing a lot of work with them. And one of my design partners, a guy that I did a lot of work with was a guy named Brad Copeland.
And he and I were running partners. He couldn’t go beyond 10 miles, but we ran together all the time and he’d oh, he kept saying to me, and during the, the fall of 1988, you gotta come down and meet this guy, Billy Payne, because Billy Payne is leading the bid for Atlanta’s Olympic Games. And we wanna bring the Olympic Games to Atlanta.
And I was like, well, you know, I don’t have time for that. I’m busy and I’m running in the afternoons. And I had started a track club and So I was, pretty busy, but Brad kept up, kept up the art, kept saying, come on, they’re looking for a writer. They’ve got this project called the bid books and they need a writer for it.
And they’re looking at writers in Europe and they’re looking at writers in California and they’re, and I wanna take you down there cuz if we get it together, we’ll be the creative team and it’ll be great, cuz we’re already a creative team we’re already doing. We’re still doing creative projects together.
So I go down and I meet Billy Payne and Billy Payne hires me. And uh, there were like three, four people in the, in the meeting and he said, why should I hire you? And I showed him two brochures that I had done for a welcome kit from a, a bank that had just come to town. First union. It had a 60 page book that was sort of a history of Atlanta and all the attractions you could see as a newcomer to town.
And it had a 60 page book on Georgia and he looked at those and thought, well, this guy can write about Georgia and Atlanta. So then they sent Brad and I to the Olympic library. They didn’t give us much briefing. They just said here bid books, have to encapsulate the entire story. The entire story of our vision for the games, technical issues, all technical issues have to be covered.
We have to have some romance in there. We have to have some, VIPs in there. We have to have everything. We have to have all the venues depicted. So Brad and I are dispatched to Lason Switzerland to study Olympic history and see how bid books are created in April of 1989. And we go into the Olympic library.
Which was at the time up the road from the train station. It’s not the Olympic elaborate Olympic [00:10:00] museum live or Olympic study center that they have now where all the bid books are kept. This was a small, old musty, house on the side of the road that, and we went in, but 15 minutes after we got into that library, I opened an old set of bid books and it was a set of winter bid books from Luanne bid, I think.
And there was a picture I just opened ’em up randomly. There was a picture of Pierre de Coubertin, who I’d never seen or heard of, an old man with a big mustache and above it, above his picture, the headline said something like this Pierre de Coubertin created the Olympic Games as part of a movement to unite the world in friendship and Peacery sport.
At least that’s what I remember from it. And when I hit that word peace, it just about knocked me on my I was an anti-war advocate and marcher in the 1960s. And I felt when I got into the advertising business, that I had left that passion for peace behind. I was anti-Vietnam. In fact, at one point I was planning to move to Canada, but then I got married and stayed in the United States at the insistence of my veteran World War II, veteran father, and her World War II, veteran father.
They threw us a nice wedding. And so, I thought, wow. And I said, I said to Brad, I said, oh my God, this isn’t just a sporting event. It’s a movement. And at that point I was completely enthralled by the idea that sport could be used for peace. That hit me right off. And I thought the Olympic games, I already knew that the Olympic games were the world’s greatest sporting event.
I was an Olympic fan from the time I was a kid, but here was a dimension of, of the Olympic games that added, added social relevance. It added global aspirations. It added a level of nobility to sport that I had never encountered before. It gave depth to what the heroes who bring home gold medals actually accomplish when they go to these distant lands to compete.
And I just felt this passion come over me. And from that moment on, I was completely all in and that’s all I wanted to work on. You know, when you’re writing corporate brochures and annual reports and for Scientific Atlanta or the Atlanta hill, the Hilton hotel chain, or the Atlanta Falcons football team, which I was doing, you, you, when you compare that to working on a movement, That is bringing the world together that is celebrating the diversity of humanity in a completely inclusive fashion and bringing the world together like nothing else and offering in some ways, an anecdote to the problems of our time, that is powerful.
That is powerful stuff. And so I was determined from that moment on to find out who was this Pierre de Coubertin and why the hell hadn’t I ever heard of him? There isn’t anywhere you can go on the face of the earth as far as I know that there is not some awareness of the Olympic games. The Olympic games are known everywhere in the United States.
I think the awareness of the Olympic games is a hundred percent. And yet no one almost no one anywhere even inside the Olympic movement, surprisingly really knows the origin story of this great movement. And the origin story of this movement is in fact, a biography. It’s biography of a Frenchman who started in educational reform and realized that the popularized sport on an international scale would enhance his ability would enhance his ability to help reform education all over the world.
And he had big ambitions. I mean, he was a little man, five foot three, but he had big ambitions and his achievements do in fact, cast him as a giant of the 20th century or the 19th century since he was born, he was born in 19th century. So then I found out a few things about the Deton, which just enthralled me.
You know, When he was born, you his birthday, January 1st, 1863. Do you know what happened on January 1st, 1863. That happens to be the day he was born in Paris. So this is just a pure coincidence, but that happens to be the day that Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation in the United States and set free the slaves.
And while that is pure coincidence, the fact remains that pier de Coubertin spent his entire life, his family fortune, his wife’s family fortune, which they inherited and exhausted all his energies, putting the liberating people through sport and putting the Olympic games on the map. He was born an aristocrat.
But he rallied to the third Republic heed. He, he basically embraced the values of Liberty equality and fraternity as a young man and supported the third Republic in its goals to, build democracy in uh, France. and he, he basically put everything on the line and he saw sport.
He literally saw the sport saw sport as probably the, he saw the team, the sporting team too, as the, [00:15:00] as the smallest sell in some ways of, of democracy, he said there is, there is no king and there is no pauper on the field of play. There are only fellow players playing the game and they’re all it’s egalitarian from the beginning to the end.
Nobody has any special status based on economics or on social rank or on ethnic background or aristocracy or anything like that. It’s egalitarianism personified.
Alison: So given those origins, the first thing that pops into my head is the whole idea of keeps keep politics out of sport. And that’s something that throughout the Olympic history, the Olympics and the IOC have said over and over again. And yet it sounds like you’re saying that was not what Pierre de Coubertin really thought.
George Hirthler: Well, he did right. That it’s he said politics has invaded every aspect of life to think. And, and by the way, I’m paraphrasing here.
I’m not quoting verbatim, but to think politics has invaded every aspect of life to think that we could keep it outta sport is it’s an impossibility. Politics gets into everything and yet what he wanted in the IOC and what he created. I mean, this guy was a genius to figure out what he figured out.
He looked at the Henley Rowing Club in the Henry regatta club in England, which was a self recruiting organization that pulled members that just nominated members, they thought would be helpful to achieve their goals and pulled them from British. He adopted that model of, of autonomy, a self recruiting organization that would bring his own member, its own membership in.
Then he didn’t know how big the Olympic games were going to become. He didn’t realize he was creating a sort of quasi diplomatic international platform that would have the power to talk to presidents and heads of state in every nation around the earth. But that is what he created. And he created a completely free of any political influence.
He said in his vision, it’s important for every nation on earth to have its turn, to host the Olympic game in its own way and to express its own culture in its unique way. He realized right from the beginning, because he was so smart, I think, and he had studied international politics and diplomacy at the sciences PO in uh, Paris.
He said, we have to create an organization that is not subject to the political influence of any government or any political party, because you know what happens as soon as you’re in politics, the governments are creating policies and opposition to other governments and they’re dividing the world.
His idea was let’s bring the world together across all the borders that divide us political, economic, religious, social ethnic, and bring people together across those borders. And. In order to be able to do that in order to be able to talk to the communists in China, the fascists in Germany the socialists in, France in order to be able to do that, he had to have a politically neutral organization.
So that’s where the idea of keeping politics out of sport really originated and came from. And yet, you know, you see the pressures that governments are still attempting to put on the Olympic Olympic movement today because they don’t recognize the value of its independence in its autonomy. They wanna compromise it.
You know, If there were governments who had the. There had been plenty of calls for it over the last 20 years, they would take over the Olympic movement and basically destroy it. It would become a Western vehicle in the hands of the United States. In fact, when Jimmy Carter boycotted, I heard when I was in Chicago in 2009, I went to a speech given by the woman who became Madeline.
Albright and I asked her, I said, why did you boycott the Olympic games in Moscow, 1980? And, and, do the damage that you did to the athletes. And she said the Olympic games, when we looked at it, when we assessed how we were going to punish the Russians the Soviets for going into Afghanistan in 1989, she said the Olympic games listen to this.
The Olympic games were one of the weapons in our arsenal. That’s what she said to me in, in response. And she was speaking at the Council of Foreign Affairs in Chicago. I was stunned because it, that statement shows a complete lack of understanding of the character and nature of the Olympic movement as a peace making body, as a body that seeks to contribute to the process of peace.
It’s not actually, piece piece is part of its it’s a byproduct of its work. It’s its central diplomatic focus, but she didn’t understand that. And in fact, use the metaphor as a war, a weapon in our arsenal to describe how they would exploit the Olympic games against the Soviets.
So if in fact there was political influence over the IOC, we would never have 204 nations competing. In every addition of the Olympic cakes, we would never discover who was really the best at any individual sport, because you’d always have boycots.
You would always have [00:20:00] people outside the games and really the Olympic, the, you guys have probably watched over the years. I have never watched it. I swear to God, American idol or those shows that are talent contests. The Olympic movement is the ultimate search light for athletic talent.
It penetrates every society down to the grassroots level to identify and find that talent and give that talent, whatever the sport, whatever the nation, whatever the origins, give that individual athlete, the opportunity to rise and perform before all humanity on the world stage. I mean, it’s a brilliant, brilliant.
Alison: Okay. So one group of people that Pierre de Coubertin did not wanna talk to was women.
George Hirthler: Well, yeah, here, here is a, here is a, one of the many controversies that Pierre de Coubertin has been you know accused of, he was a visionary. He was an absolute 19th century visionary who was looking all the way to the end of the 20th century.
I mean, he did speak about the 26th Olympia ad, which we ended up hosting in Atlanta. He spoke about that when he was alive. So he was always looking ahead and he was looking at the overall possibilities of what this movement might do, but he was also a product of his time. He was a visionary.
And yet he was also a product of his time. He was a man of the 19th century. He was born into a paternalistic society in France, in the 1860s, seventies, eighties, nineties, in which women were the possession of men in the class that he was born into in the risk Socratic class. They were kept in carriages.
When they went out into the public they were more or less the property of, of, of their husbands in some ways. And yet he supported politically the third Republic. He supported Jules ferry in particular, who was the prime minister of France in 80.
And do you know what the jewels fairy laws did for the first time in France? They mandated public education for all students, including women in 1909. Okay. But let me go back to the sporting side for a minute. Pierre de Coubertin’s mother got the same education, her brothers, it was very unusual, but she also learned a fence and she was a fencer and Pierre to Coubertin became a fencer.
And he said this for every man, woman and child sport provides a path to self-improvement. It is the birthright of all and nothing can replace it. So he wanted sport for women. He wanted women in sport. There’s right. And I’ve got quotes from him that say, yes, if women want to take up boxing, if they want to take up tra whatever they want to take up, let them take it up, pursue sport by all means.
It’s good for them, but not, but let’s not have them compete in public. And here, here he was, he was a shiver old guy with this 19th century paternalistic code in his head. And he thought that women had to be protected. And he essentially said, but let’s not have them competing in public because the spectators who gather.
To watch the women compete. And he said this back in the 19th century, or right after the turn of the century will not be there to watch the athleticism. He was concerned. And this was his old attitude despite, and there were women asking for entree to the Olympic games. He didn’t deny it.
He never denied it. I’ll come back to that, but he was afraid. That, that the men who came to watch women compete, wouldn’t be watching their athletic feats, rather. They be oogling their, their bodies. And it’s interesting because Anita de France, the great American Olympian leader, first African American woman in the IOC first American woman in the IOC uh, did a study three years in a row.
She updated it. And this is back in 19 88, 89 and 90 looking at images of women on major broadcast networks and television broadcast of sporting events. And her conclusions were, and she went around and she briefed ABC, CBS, NBC, and ESPN, and all this, that there was an incredible sexual bias and the cameras were constantly pointed at the bodies and basically.
They treated women. The announcers treated women completely different from the way they treated men. One of the things that she cited over and over again was the fact that in tennis competition at the time, they would refer to the female players by their first names, Chrissy and Steffi, for instance.
And they would refer to the men as Sampras and Agassi. So the things that Coubertin was citing, he was a very insightful guy. The things that he were inciting remain in some ways, problems to us today. Now he took over the presidency of the IOC in 1900. The first presidency was for the, the first games were in Greece.
So the presidency at that time rotated went with the host city. He took over the IOC in 1900. First women competed in Paris, the first games under his presidency in [00:25:00] 1900, he left the IOC in 1924. Again in Paris. After those games, he retired in 1925. He retired in 1925 in, in Prague under his presidency, the numbers of women competing in the Olympic games, increased sixfold.
It’s a fact, and it’s on record that he never blocked women from competing in the games. He was personally against it because of what I had just articulated his, code. He was personally against, against them competing, but he never when the Stockholm organized and committee wrote to him and said would be permissible to have women in the modern pentathlon.
He said, that’s your decision. He said, I leave that decision to the organizers. He said, you know, my position, but it’s your decision. And so he never stopped them. And he wrote in 1900. this is a side of him that is never, never brought into the argument about his opposition to women. And by the way he was in the majority in terms of opinion, women in sport in 1922 in Paris, the national medical convention of doctors analyzed the question of women in exercise.
And they decided that women had to be very careful when it came to physical exercise. It was the predominant viewpoint of his cohort at the time. And we can go and we can talk specifically about France and women’s rights. I’ll touch on that. But in 1909, he published a book on public education and he had, he had a chapter in there on the education of women.
And, he was against a feminist movement in principle because he thought it was dividing families and, and all of that. And yet he writes in there that it is essential that women have access to education and he had two, two major reasons for that one is. So if they decide not to marry, they can earn a respectable living on their own.
And two. If they have to escape, and this is a quote. If they have to escape the tyranny of marriage, it’s important for them to be educated so that they can, earn, earn a good living. So on the one hand, he was opposed to women competing publicly to displaying their bodies publicly. On the other hand, he was quite progressive in in, in the education realm.
Now he did say, and he wrote some very unkind things about feminism. And he did write some unkind things about what it would be like if women were competing. But in the end he said, the public will decide. And when he retired in Prague, he gave a great speech to his membership.
And he essentially said, The games are global. All people must be allowed in without the bait. He wanted the games to be inclusive of all countries. And the ethic that he laid down, the ethic that he laid down in Olympism the social ethic, the ethic of inclusivity that he laid down at the foundation of this movement, overwrote his own shortcomings.
And in fact, did bring women in, if you read Anita de France’s book, you’ll find that she said we hit a point after Paris all the way up until 1964, when the advancement of women in the Olympic games was pitiful was just pitiful. I mean, it was in the. 20 years or whatever it was there. The first from 1900, the first 25 years you know, the advancement was moving at, a, as I said, sixfold at a pretty quick rate.
And then it slowed down. It really slowed down. And after the war, it didn’t pick up that much. It hasn’t been until the last couple of decades. And in fact, title nine helped to put women’s sports in focus for Atlanta when we got the games. And Anita, by the way, was Anita de France was a was a counselor on the Atlanta Olympic big because she was also at that time in IOC member.
And if you look at the advancements that Atlanta made in women’s sports in the Centennial Olympic games is really quite remarkable. In fact, Barcelona four years before Atlanta sold a total number of tickets to Olympic events of 3.7 million. Atlanta sold 3.9 million, 200,000 more to women’s events, softball team sport basketball were brought in for the first time for, is it softball and soccer?
Women’s soccer, soccer, women’s soccer. Yeah. Softball and soccer were brought in for the first time. And of course the championship women’s soccer game, a sellout crowd, the largest crowd ever to see a women’s sporting event at that point, 85,000 people saw the us beat China, that great Mia ham team.
Jill: What do you think PI de Kuan would think of the games today, especially in the sense that the amateurism is scaled back slash out and athletes who are professionals can take part.
George Hirthler: He called amateurism. Now, if you were in the 1890s and you were attempting to launch an international sporting event, the worst problem you would have would be defining amateurism because there were certain groups that really had control of sport, especially in Britain that used the definition of amateurism to keep the working class out.
Okay. When Pierre de Coubertin retired from the Olympic presidency in [00:30:00] 1925, he developed two new organizations, both focused on bringing the working class more fully into sport. He was completely, he, he called amateur amateurism that old mummified body we’ve got to beat up on again and again, he did not want restrictions.
He did not want restrictions on eligibility. He wanted all people in, in 1923, he proposed the first pan African games as a, as a regional global event. If you will, a regional event for the continent in which. The colonists would allow the colonized to compete equally on the field of play with all of them.
So he was, he was quite progressive in that. I think he would be delighted with Sam Ranch’s decision to, to allow the professionals to come in. I think he would’ve taken offense at some of the ways in which the professional definitions were. I mean, the amateur definitions were used to discriminate against athletes during the forties and uh, in the fifties.
But he did in fact, endorse the United States, Olympic committees punishment of Jim Thorpe. He, he endorsed it. as an administrative decision of one of his leading NOCs, those are very complex issues and he was not a great proponent of, he did not hold high. This banner of amateurism.
He had conference after conference, after conference examining amateurism in order to expand the definition so more people could get into the games. His notion was always, was always inclusivity.
Jill: Given that he was so a proponent of inclusivity yet signed the final verdict on Jim Thorpe’s medals being taken away. how do we justify the vision with the actions?
George Hirthler: Well, the vision, the vision and the actions, predominantly the actions line up with the visions.
You can see, hi, you can interpret his career. And his actions is a fight to expand the definition of amateurism to let people in. Even after we retired, he wrote an open letter to the French organizers to the leading French sports figure, Fran of his time in 1925, basically saying help me with this program to make sport available, to working class after World War, I, he came forth with a new theme for the IOC, all sports for all people, calling his colleagues back to rally to help rebuild society after the catastrophe of World War I. Now, I don’t know the particulars of the Thorpe case. But he had a battle. Coubertin had an ongoing battle with multiple people attempting to take over the Olympic movement, particularly his own nation of France, but, but also the United States and James Sullivan, who you’ve heard of who was the founder of many calling the founder of the United States Olympic Committee, which he wasn’t William Milligan, Sloan really was.
But James Sullivan was a great opponent of Coubertin and through Casper Whitney actually attempted with the Brits to exclude Coubertin for many future decisions about where the, where the games would go after Paris, 1900 and attempted to take over the Olympic movement and called his authority into question.
So you never know if behind the scenes there wasn’t some sort of a trade off on a deal like that, that Coubertin agreed to sign off on. on the judgment against THP. History is fascinating. In my novel, The Idealist I have Coubertin and his father at a luncheon where they’re looking at the destruction of Paris by the commune, after they return to Paris in 18 71, right after the Franco Prussian war ended, the commune rose and erupted as a new revolution over France.
Of course, it was repressed by the new government, that third Republic it was formed and his father, and, and they’re talking about history and he’s asking his father to explain to him. And I wrote this line, which is one of my favorite lines from the novel. The father says, Charles Deton. The painter says to his son, he says, Pierre.
He said, every day in history holds a million secrets. We will never know And the fact is, when you go back, when you’re a historian and you go back and you begin to investigate the depth of information you find is often very fascinating.
That’s what’s happened to me and the research that I’ve done on C. I do look at him as a, as both a visionary and a man of his times and try to reconcile just as you asked me to try to reconcile the actions against the ideals and they don’t always line up. But the ideals are inviable in my viewpoint and they remain a high bar for us to strive for, you know, we’re human beings.
We’re all flawed. So do we get there? Maybe.
Alison: Why a novel versus a biography?
George Hirthler: Well, I had [00:35:00] done Alison, I think I had done, we finished the campaign for Munich 2018. We made our. Presentation in Durban, South Africa. And we, the team had a dinner that night and Thomas Bach was the leader of that bid.
And I remember he was saying, what are you people doing after this? What are you doing next? And I said, I’m gonna write a, book about Pierre de Coubertin. And I got home and that summer I had, so this was 2011. So 2011 from 1990 is about 21 years. So I’d already had 20 years of sort of research under my belt about Coubertin.
I was pretty conversant in his life. I’d been invited by the family to come up to the Chateau Deir, Chateau de Merville in Normandy. And I spent time with them and tour the grounds. I’d been to all the sites in Paris in 2011. That same year I hired a biographical tour company in Paris to take me, get me into the major sites that were important to as Olympic story.
So I started to have a feel for the places he walked in his birth city. I knew Lu I bind LASAN 20 times by then. So I knew I knew Luanne pretty well. Anyway, I got home and I sat down and, you know, the photograph, you’ve probably seen this photograph. If you’ve seen many photographs of Pierre de Coubertin, there’s a photograph of him at the age.
He died at 74 of about 72 in a rowboat long, thin rowboat, a skull on lake Geneva. Okay. There’s a, and he’s in like a, just a t-shirt and he’s sitting out there and he’s, he’s ready to row. Somebody took a photograph from him from above. And I, thought about that photograph and I thought that’d be a good opening for the book.
And I sat down and I wrote a paragraph which turned out to be maybe, I dunno, a couple hundred words. And it was a story of Cton rowing out on the Lake Geneva in the winter, as a storm came, pouring down from the French Alps and he was not gonna be denied his morning workout. And so he rode into the face of the storm and he was blown.
He was blown and he ended up rowing in circles, which he was known to do like Olympic rings on the water, you know, rowing in circles. So a lot of symbolism in that scene. And when I finished writing it, I said to my wife, I had my laptop on my lap. I remember this. I said, I said to Carol, my wife. I said, honey uh, I think I can write this as a novel because I had described his emotions in that scene.
You know, I went into the photograph and thought, okay, gimme the context for this photograph and let me write about it. And I started writing and I realized, okay, the rain is battering him. His muscles and his sinus are thin at the age of 72. And I started to put things in there that I didn’t have factual basis for.
But that I knew would be true if he did row into a storm, you know, if the winds were coming in that direction. and I decided at that point, wow. And the next day I started in the story and I thought it would be great. He never wrote a full biography. He wrote a lot and he wrote Olympic memoirs and he wrote memoirs of youth and he wrote, but they’re all little thin books.
And given the volume of stuff he wrote in his ability, his literary abilities, he could have written a very good biography if he wanted to. And I had the idea why don’t I bring a journalist into this story and have the journalist interview him and write his story. And I decided I would set the book and Francis Messerly by the way, was factually and actually his best friend for 20 years.
Luanne, Switzerland. He was 20 years younger. And so I had him as the protagonist of the story. I thought he could actually hire an Olympic writer. So then I thought, wow, Olympic writer from Paris who would know PI background from covering the Olympic games. The year is 1937. They don’t know it, but Messerly suspect something’s wrong with his health.
He dies in factual, factual terms. He dies September 2nd, 1937. So Jacque St. Clair, this writer I invent in Paris is invited by Messer Lee in a letter that opens the novel to come down to Lu on and live for a year, full expenses covered and fees in a house that will be provided by Messerly. And he moves jock St.
Clair thinks it’s the biggest opportunity he’s had as a sports writer. He loves the Olympic games and he was a cyclist himself. All, all of course fiction. He moves down with this American girlfriend, Juliet Franklin. Who’s a painter and she paints Peter portrait while he’s being interviewed. So what I wanted to do was integrate this old man at 74.
So it’s January of 1937. As his health is failing to bring into his life two new young people in their thirties who would become attached to him in a way that really affects both of their lives. And this is happening just as the Nazis are emerging as the sea force and leading the world to war and jock St.
Clair before he gets the book completed is called back to Paris and sent to Berlin to cover some of the events in Berlin. So he spends a year interviewing Pierre and the [00:40:00] entire story of Pierre comes forth, both in the content of the interviews that are conducted. Cuz I use verbatim interview techniques, right?
He asks questions, gets answers. And then I have passages that he’s writing. He starts to write the biography. So he summarizes passages. So either you’re getting the story in the interviews, you’re getting it in passages or you’re getting it in conversations he has with Messer Lee, where he is telling him what he’s learned, so it was kind of an inventive model. The film writes to the novel. I published the novel myself because I couldn’t find a literary agent and I was running out of time. I wanted to have the book out before the Rio Olympic games. And I, I, I published it in 2016 and in 2019, the film rights sold to an Oscar nominated film producer.
and we’ve pitched a major studio that is bought the rights while we’re still in the deal. Isn’t announced cuz we’re still in legal negotiations, but you know, It’s gonna become a feature film on his life. And uh, I’m trying right now to get the backing to produce a, a documentary on his life in times too.
And I’m, I’ve outlined and I have a book proposal for a uh, narrative nonfiction biography of ready to go. So I wanna write that I’m hoping to bring out both a new, a new bio, a narrative non-fiction biography and a, documentary pre-PA 2024, so that his story can be celebrated in France, especially in France in a new way.
Alison: Few years ago we watched a mini series, 1896 about the first Olympics and of all people, Louis Jordan, Dan played. Here to Coubertin.
George Hirthler: Oh, that was Gary Alison’s film.
Alison: Yeah. So you have seen it.
George Hirthler: Yeah. So I saw it years ago, Gary Alison he was a writer producer out in LA and he showed up around the time of the Centennial Olympic games here in Atlanta because he had, he had produced a great series of books called the Centennial. Was it called the century project.
And he had a volume on each edition of the Olympic games. Did extraordinary research. He’s the guy who found all of those photographs taken by one of the Princeton team members of the 1896 us team. I mean, he was, he was extraordinary. He died. It’s unfortunate. He did because he was a, he was a walking in encyclopedia of Olympic history.
I saw that film. I saw that film with the guy from mash playing William Milligan, Sloan and Louis Jordan, Dan Louis, Jordan, Dan mailing in a performance on Coubertin. It was pretty. It was pretty awful. And it, and that’s what I wanted to know. well, this is, this is recall from, let’s say 25 years ago.
So I’m not being astute and accurate with this assessment, but it was not a good film. And it was, it was one of those films that made me feel embarrassed, just watching it. I thought they really got the story of Guan wrong. and I was still a novice at that point.
Jill: In addition to you wanting to get a nonfiction biography out and a documentary out before Paris, 2024, do you know how they’re going to include him in the.
George Hirthler: I don’t. And if you look at the history of Pierre de Coubertin in France, it’s more complicated than, any other history between him and, and another and outside entity, if you will. Coubertin had taken several trips to England to study their model of education. And what he discovered was they had games and sports as part of the curriculum for all students. In France at the time put their kids, it was a total intellectual emphasis.
There was no physical fitness. There was no gym class and Coubertin wanted the reform French education by following the British model. And so he, he made proposals to bring. And he spoke with Jules Simone, Jules, Simone, completely embraced his ideas, cuz he himself had already articulated in a speech that Coubertin heard the right that I demand for our children is the right to play.
And that was 1887 he heard Jules Simon say that. They formed a partnership and launched something, which was the committee for the propagation of physical education, which means putting sport in schools, which became known as the Jules Simone committee And as soon as they launched, they got pushed back back from a guy named Pascal GU set, who was a writer and had been part of the French commune that burnt down part of Paris in the uprising of 1871 and was therefore in many ways. Since Coubertin had come from an aristocratic background and grep was a a revolutionary, the clash between them was irreconcilable and gr set stood up and attacked Coubertin and said, this is an act of treason, attempting to bring British sports into French schools, let us be French in all things.
Let us only practice our own sports. So he had a program and he wanted to practice. He wanted to build, he wanted to do the same thing. Pierre wanted to do. He [00:45:00] wanted to bring sport into education, but he wanted only French sports. And he didn’t wanna follow the British model, which you know, was extremely successful and had transform many people believe had transformed Britain.
And a lot of people say the, the British empire was built on the field’s Veen in Oxford and Cambridge. know, That it was the sports and schools that helped make that nation so powerful and feel that nation with such ambition. So. Jill, to get, back around to your question.
So there was an immediate divide in French society between Coubertin wanted to do, and he was cast, there was doubt and suspicion cast against him and this great divide, by the way, it divided French society, whether you were for the commun. Which was a revolutionary eruption attempting to take over France or whether you were for the third Republic, right?
There was a great division in French politics, which is not healed to this day. Flybe visited and Flybe wrote to George sand and said, I have just been to Paris. And aside from the ruins, the most incredible thing is that half the population wants to hang the other half and the other half wants to return the compliment.
In other words, the division was so deep and Coubertin was on the wrong side of that division as an aristocrat because he was not trusted. He was not trusted by the grassroots sports movement. You go from there. This is 1888. He begins to understand. And he, he goes through the 1889 parish universal exposition in which the Eiffel tower is of course built right in his neighborhood.
That’s where he lives in the seventh AEs mall. He conducts at that as part of the educational program for that great universal exposition, which attracted 32 million people to Paris over a six month period of time, the most successful world’s fair to that point. He conducts a Congress on physical education, which brings the results of a survey he’s conducted across many nations, including nine universities and colleges in the United States, which sent their information in, he conducts some sports demonstrations and he sees the possibility of global events, riveting attention.
On a particular theme. And he just, he looks at the parades that are conducted the balls and the ceremonies and the art, great architecture. He looks at all of the conferences. He sees the marriage of culture and industry in remarkable ways. And he sees the awarding of medals and he sees the national anthems being played here and there.
And he adopts a lot of this stuff. Five years later, when he launches the Olympic games, he adopts it. But by that time, the division between him and some of the grassroots people in French sport had gotten a little wider. Well, when he launches the Olympic games and he forms the French national Olympic committee, and there are seven national Olympic committees formed immediately.
There are 13 nations involved, June 23rd, 1894 in the so bond 2000 people rise in acclamation and proclaim. Athens is the first host in 1896. Paris is the second host when he, he does that. He creates an international diplomatic platform, which is just extraordinary. I mean, nobody’s ever had an international platform like he created and it was free of French political influence.
Well, the government started to be resentful because French government thought, wait, this should be a French product. I mean, it was created here. This should be a French product. So over the course of his career, 25 years, that division grows wider and wider. There are conflicts, there are character assassinations.
People are publishing nasty things about him. They pull apart academics begin to attack him. The presses attacked him in the 1920s, the government after World War I, the government is looking for ways. You know, the French really suffered immense losses in World War. I, as something like 75% of the male population between the ages of 18 and 45 were decimated in the war.
They’re looking for new international platforms to raise the prestige France and their eye falls upon the International Olympic Committee. And they literally make it. And this is in a story that I’m writing right now that I haven’t published yet, but they literally make it part of government policy to take Coubertin down and take over the, and.
The results. And then when Coubertin supported the Nazis uh, didn’t support. I mean, the games were given to Germany in 1930 for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The Nazis came to power in 1933 and took over. They were spending more money building finer venues, creating a better organization than any previous organizing committee had.
And although Coubertin was destitute and broke and living alone in a one bedroom apartment in Lianne, he was entranced by what they were doing and enchanted by it. Carl diem and Theodore Leal, the two German lead organizers who were always on shaky ground with the Nazis, manipulated this old man and used him to [00:50:00] gain a lot of approvals and uh, created in him some enthusiasm for Hitler’s leadership before he knew. You know, you can’t ever reconcile Coubertin and Hitler as, as what you would call kindred spirits. I mean, they’re complete opposites Olympism and fascism are antithetical, but France then came up and demanded that Coubertin denounce after the 1936 Berlin games, French journalists arrived in uh, the interview Coubertin and demanded that he denounce the German games and Hitler and he wouldn’t.
And so then they turned around and attacked him again. Another here he was living in obscurity. I mean, he was completely forgotten by virtually everybody for about a decade and he’s living in obscurity and they come roaring in and he says, France never understood me, never understood what I was, what I was trying to do with the Olympic games.
And in the twenties, when they launched this government policy to literally take over international sport, they created a permanent sports bureau, which brought together all the international federations in an attempt to displace the, I. It’s all documented history that I’m, that I’m now summarizing, as I said, in this article.
And so the history of Coubertin in France up to this day, it remains divided. So I don’t know, I don’t know what Paris 2024 will be doing to celebrate Coubertin. I hope they do great things, but I really don’t know. I’m not I’m not part of the dialogue on that, but there’s a history there that is basically a hundred years of character assassination.
And there are people in France who are devoted to Coubertins scholars who are devoted to a John Dory in particular, the French Pierre de Coubertin committee. There are a lot of good people who were working hard to promote. Guita the people at the sciences PO where he was a student. They promoted his legacy to some degree, but I don’t, I don’t really know what they’ll be doing.
Jill: In 2020 you got news that you had been awarded the Pierre de Coubertin medal from the IOC.
What was your reaction to that news?
George Hirthler: I was on an exercise bicycle and I was reading my emails, which I’d seldom do on exercise bike. And one came in from the office of the president of the IOC that said, I have the pleasure of informing you that the executive board of the International Olympic Committee voted the day to give you the Pierre to Coubertin.
First of all, I wasn’t really sure which medal it was. Cause the fair play committee gives it Pierre de Coubertin medal to athletes who exemplify sportsmanship. You’ve seen that before, Andy what’s her name de Augustino got one a few years ago. And and so I had to actually look it up and I wrote back to the office of the president.
I’m thrilled by this. And they said, let us know how you wanna receive the medal. We can put it in the mail. We can send it to the United States and an IOC member can drape it around your neck there or when the time is right. So this is in the middle of the pandemic, right? Everything was shut down.
you can come to Lu on and receive it. So I said, well, I’m most interested in finding out why I got this award. And I got a note back from Thomas Bach saying essentially, well, it’s your years of service, but also it’s the impact of your novel on the life and times of Barron period Keer time, which I think he probably had just finished reading.
I went to Las on, in 2016 after the Rio Olympic games and gave him a copy of the book. I got to know him pretty well on the, um, on the Munich 2018 Olympic campaign, which he was running. And so I, I, I did get to know him and I have great admiration for him.
So anyway, I was happy to receive that medal and we couldn’t find a time. I mean, he was pressed all through 2020 keeping Tokyo on track and, under immense global pressure. And then they postpone the games for a year. So the next. pandemic’s still raging Tokyo 2020 with Beijing and the wings following not even five months, five or six months later.
I mean, they were so busy and they came home and shut down for a while after Beijing. And finally, I, I said, when can we do this? And I got a note from his office essentially saying the president suggests Olympic day. So I went over and there was another guy getting a medal, an artist from from Switzerland German artist who lives in Switzerland, who had done a couple of portraits of here to Coubertin, which were really striking like a modern art guy, like, Andy Warhol.
There was a ceremony in the, big stairwell in the Olympic house against the wall, back under the stairwell, probably about 50 people down there and another hundred or so looking down, it was Olympic day and they opened Olympic house to the public.
So there were a lot of people in there and they gave us the medals and he said very nice that he had a speech and then I had to speak. And I, I didn’t know that I was going to have an acceptance speech. So I gave an extemporaneous speech, which, Thomas had finished by saying he has written more than 3000 pages of Olympic speeches and bid books and literature and film scripts, et cetera.
And I said, yes, but I forgot to [00:55:00] write a speech for today. but I, I, I ended up doing RA.
receiving this medal, having remembered the moment in the library, which I saw as a turning point in my life in 19, April of 1989, when I discovered Pierre de Coubertin to get a medal in his name and to be only the third American to get it, I was the 41st recipient.
The artist who got the medal with me was the 42nd. I think. So, receiving that medal was in his name as a an expression of gratitude in some way from the committee receiving it in Olympic house from the IOC president on Olympic day was really incredibly special. I got pretty choked up. I was able to give a speech, but I I did get choked up a couple of times.
And, um, it was sort of in some ways, a completion of my Olympic journey, you know, you could see it that way. And the medal because of this size of the medal and the design of it, Someran had this medal design, as I understand it, having now researched it, he had this medal designed in 1997.
So it was a new medal. Then it says, city of Saudi is 40th around it. And on the back is a picture of Pierre de Coubertin. And it says the Pierre de Cuban medal. And these are obviously the colors of the Olympic rings on the flag and the box they give you, you’ve gotta see this right. The box, they give it to you.
There’s also a lapel pin. See that little lapel pin think, oh, nice. So, you know, when they give the Olympic order, which is the highest, I think the highest award they give the lapel pin is, is part. so yeah, it was, it was, unbelievably great, unbelievably humbling and great moment in my Olympic career.
I did ever expect this to happen.
Jill: Wonderful. George, thank you so much. We really appreciate you telling us about your story and about Pierre DCU town.
Thank you so much, George, you can find out more and get his book at Coubertin. The idealist.com and facebook.com/Coubertin. The idealist Coubertin speaks is Coubertin speaks.com and also Coubertin speaks on Twitter and you can follow George on Instagram at G LER.
Alison: Welcome to TKFLASTAN
Jill: Luan. It is time to check in with our Team Keep the Flame Alive who are past guests of our show, making up our citizenship of TKFLASTAN, our very own country. Evan Dunfee placed sixth in the men’s 35 kilometer race walk at the world, athletics championships, pushing through a hamstring injury and trying out a new distance, cuz he’s a 50 K guy and he’s gotta go down.
So this is tough
Alison: adjustments. And he posted how he was competing against a lot of 20 K guys who are moving up. So which apparently is.
Jill: I would imagine it’s easier to add distance and keep the speed in a sense, versus having that much endurance and probably not having as much speed as you need to be super competitive at the 35 K.
Alison: was, he was very happy with his results.
Meagan Duhamel and husband Bruno Marcotte welcome daughter, Miya. Charlie Rose on July 14th, mom and baby are home and doing well. Yay.
Jill: Author Roy Tomizawa has been accepted into the Quantic school of business and technology.
Taking a spot in the school’s executive MBA class of November, 2023. Guess who’s on a Wheatie
Speed skater and gold medalist. Erin Jackson. She posted that on Instagram. and I am gonna go grocery shopping today. So I’m looking for my Erin Jackson weedy box. Excellent.
Jill: And I saw this on Facebook. One of the comments on her wheat’s box post was somebody saying they bought their husband for an O an Oculus for father’s day. And she was going through all the games that the Oculus has, and there’s one of the Olympics games. And Erin is one of the covers for the game as she should. Exactly exactly.
Alison: John Register has been named president and CEO at Amputee Coalition.
Jill: Congratulations, and also congratulations to the D tones of Jason Bryant, who will soon be heard as the new voice of hockey at St. Cloud State University go Huskies. So, he might be the DT and Husky tones.
Alison: and this is something we’ll have to ask him.
Do you use a different voice for wrestling versus hockey?
Jill: Very good question.
It is officially one year since Tokyo 2020. there was a big kind of celebration ceremony at the main stadium, which was quite exciting to read about.
The international Paralympic Committee [01:00:00] announced that the symbolic areas of the Tokyo 2020 games are going to be re renamed Olympic and Paralympic parks, which is very cool. Oh, I like that. There’s going to be different plaques around the park areas and game symbol. And I guess the big GTOs is going back to Tokyo.
Jill: The legacy of Tokyo is starting to show a little bit. And one of the things that uh, Loza Latina, bilingual media reported was that. People with disabilities in Tokyo now have better accessibility on, on transportation systems.
So in places where maybe there was one entrance or exit for disabled people, there’s now multiple exit and entrances on some of these big train stations, which is great. The problem is still that housing is an issue and there’s. Quote in there saying that the number of accessible housing units compared to 20 years ago has barely increased.
So still some work to do on that front, but there is improvement.
And I send this on a great note. Thank you to ner Kaori for letting us know that another executive has been found to have issues. With the Tokyo organizing committee this was Hari Yuki Takahashi, who was a member of the organizing committee’s executive board. And, and the organizing committee is now defunct.
So his, he had a sports consulting firm and he signed a consulting contract with a suit retailer named Aoki holdings and This happened before events were held he thought it was not a conflict of interest. Other people are saying, Hey, this is a conflict of interest.
He has received directly about $326,000 from the sponsor.
Alison: And the sponsor became an official sponsor. After this consulting agreement was signed.
Jill: happier news. It is two years until Paris, 2024.
Alison: I am going to get a croissant in a cafe. I’m going to sit outside my house and watch people go by and insult them.
Jill: so thank you to listener David for giving us a tip off to the new slogan, which is Iran’s grand leg or games wide open to which I don’t know about you, but my instant reaction to that games wide open was eyes wide shut.
Alison: oh, no.
Jill: That is not good. if you wanna compare, NBC did a nice little piece where they compared it to recent Olympic slogans, which we can go back. Start let’s start in salt lake city, 2002 light. The fire within Athens was welcome home to Reno. Passion lives here, Beijing one world, one dream Vancouver with glowing hearts.
London inspire a generation. Your favorite soci hot cool. Yours with
Alison: punctuation. with periods after each word. Cause those Russians are so hot. Cool. And yours.
Jill: Rio was a new world.
Pong Chang was passion connected also with periods Tokyo United by emotion, Beijing together for a shared future. Or if you have the song constantly in your head together for a Sharid future. And now game one, but with the rhythm.
Alison: Yeah, it’ll be interesting to hear what the song becomes. I mean, obviously it’ll be in French because as we have seen the organizing committee is, very strong in French as an official language at the Olympics.
We’re keeping everything in French. So obviously the song’s gonna be in French, but it’ll be interesting to hear what it, sounds like,
Jill: Very good point. I wonder if they would bring Celine back Celine D.
Alison: Well, she, she speaks Canadian French. We, we do not discuss that. Yeah, no,
Jill: David also tipped us off to the fact that football and rugby sevens will be starting ahead of the Olympics. So Football, I think started early in Tokyo and I know softball started early in Tokyo. This time rugby sevens is happening on day minus two, which is July 24th. And they’re gonna have 12 men’s matches on day minus two, 12 men’s matches, including the quarter finals on day minus one.
And then there’s a day off for opening ceremonies. And then the first full day of the games is semifinals and
Alison: finals. So you’re gonna. An entire tournament of rugby, rugby players loose in Paris with credentials for two weeks and no competition they need to behave for. Did your college have a rugby team?
Jill: We didn’t have an official rugby team. I, but I knew a couple of rugby players. I know exactly what you’re talking about. [01:05:00] We’ve seen the stories of people misbehaving, cuz remember who the Australian team on the way home from Tokyo. Oh yeah, totally misbehaved.
Alison: Totally got in big trouble. Yeah. So rugby house may collapse.
under the weight of the amount of alcohol. These men are going to drink. Oh
Jill: boy. And then football day minus two will be eight men’s matches and day minus one will be eight women’s matches. They’ll have group plays. So that tournament goes on a lot longer. I, I just really think it’s interesting that rugby is gonna be pretty much over before the games even.
I mean, cause I do love watching rugby, but it’s really tough because the tournaments are so short.
Alison: But on the other hand, you basically sit in one place and you just watch the matches. Very true. And if they’re in day minus one and minus two, you won’t have competing sports. for your attention.
Jill: Very true as well. Hmm. They’ve announced some ticket information. A draw for tickets will start this December and they’ve also confirmed the full pricing structure for individual tickets for sporting competitions will be priced between 24 euros and 950 euros.
So that’s about $25. Or $970. There’s gonna be kind of a multiple stage lottery system sort of thing. So they’re gonna have package ticket deals, and then they’re going to have a, another individual ticket sales, and then there’s gonna be like a final selloff throughout 2023. We’ve actually put together some Paris, 2024 information on our website, flamealivepod.com and click on the Paris link.
You’ll find all you need to know, and we keep adding to it as we have more information
they’ll need to sell all those tickets because there are budget WOS going on right now.
Alison: to be fair. That’s not totally their fault.
Jill: No inflation is hitting them. Hard. Supply chain issues are hitting them hard. So, the guardian has a story about how problems are just kind of starting to pile up.
People have been talking a lot about security because Paris hosted the U E F a soccer tournament recently. And there was a huge security. Kerfuffle that went on there. So things aren’t going well two years out, but hopefully supply chains will kind of smooth out and inflation will go down.
I, I don’t know the, the safety issues with, with this plan of the athletes parade, going down the river and hundreds of thousands of people lining the river for. terrifying. I, in a way, in a way it’s exciting in a way it’s terrifying,
Alison: It’s never been done before and that’s a scary prospect.
And because you’re also going to have all those dignitaries and world leaders who will want to come to, to Paris because so many of them couldn’t go to Tokyo. And so many of them chose not to go to Beijing.
Jill: right. And same with fans because they could not go to Tokyo. They could not go to Beijing. Now they get to go back again and even, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people who think, even if I can’t get tickets, I’ll just go and soak up. The atmosphere .
Speaking of the parade of nations down the sun. I had a brilliant idea. Ooh, okay. You know how you need country holders who are usually women that hold the, the country placard before everything. I think they should be in paddle boats ahead of the boat. And they would be, they would be paddling themselves.
So it would be a green initiative and they would just hold up the big signs. But the problem with that
Alison: is then they can’t wear the fun, elegant, wacky
Jill: outfits. It’s kind of hard. They aren’t gonna be able to wear fun wacky, elegant outfits. Anyway, they’re gonna be on a boat. Nobody’s gonna,
Alison: this is the French
They will find a way to give. Women something wild. Now how about we combine the paddle boat with the snow Globes from Albertville 92. So they paddle, but they’re like encased in a globe with like things from whatever country there. Oh, kind of a combination of like the MIS universe costume contest and the, the paddle boat and the snow globe.
Jill: That could work. They
Alison: could make the MIS universe contestants, the, the placard girls, and they just bring their costumes that they used for the, for the competition,
Jill: recycle what if they had, what is that thing? What parasailing, what if they were parasailing? And they had a big banner that they held like with their feet or something tied around their ankles with the country name on it.
Alison: That sounds a little bit like they got
Jill: arrested, then they could have a big outfit and you could see the outfit.
Alison: these outfit have trains. You can’t tie anything around their [01:10:00] ankles.
Jill: I don’t know. But, but that has to be exciting to see what somebody is coming up with. They’re in meetings like right now going, how would we do this?
Alison: idea. We will smoke some cigarettes and drink some, our coffee and we will go up with something brilliant. We, our French .
Jill: One other big change in competition for Paris is in athletics. They are going to introduce a rep round. before it’s always been the top two from the. Early heats go to the next round.
And then depending on how many heats the event has the athletes with the next fastest times, move on. So now instead of the waiting around so that you don’t know if your time is gonna be good or not, that you’re going to rep massage and having another race. What do think?
Alison: I think about, I think a lot of people will enjoy that.
It’s certainly great for the athletes. I’m just worried because the athletic schedule is so packed and we’re adding all these additional race. Is that going to skew the schedule even more and make it more difficult to get everything in. We know it’s getting hotter. We know in Tokyo, things had to get moved.
Europe is really struggling right now with an incredible heat wave. And you think about trying to get in all these races at times of day, where there’s no risk to the athlete’s health and safety. That’s my only.
Jill: interesting point. We had this discussion on Facebook and Claire thought it was good because athletes are no longer one and done.
You have a, who’s going to move on automatically instead of waiting around for time. On the other hand, a listener, Sarah likes time based qualifiers because there’s some luck involved in heats in a. and so you give trailing runner something to jet for. She said if Patrick likes it because it’s another sport, not just because you get two runs, it’s another sport that uses the wordage.
Alison: that word. There’s a few words. I really hate rep massage is one of them. Reservoir is another and bouquet.
Jill: Is it be, I, I do think rece is, difficult to say, yes,
Alison: I can’t, my mouth doesn’t work that way,
Jill: but I do agree with Patrick, it is another sport. And, you get to use rece about as often as you get to see some of these sports on TV And we’ve got some test events underway, the nautical stadium in Hosted the trial for both rowing and para rowing. And that will be the site of Olympic rowing para rowing, canoe, sprint, and para canoe events in 2024. And organizers have said to Inside the Games that the feedback has been very positive.
We have a little LA 2028 news from last week, they announced the official dates of competition. The Olympics will run July 14 through 30 and the Paralympics start August 15 and go through August 27.
Alison: And these were changed from the original dates.
Jill: Oh, what were they? I, because I don’t remember
Alison: what they were originally.
It was starting on July 6th, so they pushed everything back a week and I don’t know. but that was the unofficial date.
Jill: Huh? I just like the fact that one is in one month and one is in the other month.
Alison: Yes. Keeps it simple. I mean LA in July and. Bring your sunscreen
Jill: and World Sailing has officially announced that it is pushing for inclusion of sailing in the Paralympic games. According to The Log, it was in the summer Paralympics 22,000 to 2016 was not in 2020 was denied reentry into 2024, mostly because lack of global participation. So they’ve been working really hard to get people involved and there trying to get back into LA 2028.
We’d like to give a big shout out to our Patreon patrons who keep our flame alive. You can find out more about patronage and supporting the show at patreon.com/flame alive pod, or check out flame alive pod.com/support for some one time support options. And that is going to do it for this week. Let us know what you think about the announcements in the calendar for Paris 2024.
Alison: you can get in touch with us through email flame, live pod, gmail.com. Call or text us at (208) 352-6348. That’s 2 0 8. Flame it, our social handle is at flame alive pod, and be sure to join the, keep the flame alive podcast group on Facebook.
Jill: Definitely do because the Facebook group’s been jumping lately, not just with world games and then world athletics championships.
Commonwealth games is coming up. And
Alison: [01:15:00] I think in the us, we’re gonna be able to see about 15 minutes
Jill: of it. Probably so we will be relying on our listeners in the Commonwealth to keep us up to date, so thank you so much for listening and until next time, keep the flame alive.