Who is the group behind those five rings? The IOC, as it’s usually called, runs the Winter and Summer Olympic Games, as well as the Youth Olympic Games (an effort to get the kids excited about the Olympics).
The IOC is the brainchild of Pierre de Coubertin, the Frenchman who was responsible for reigniting the Olympic flame and bringing the Games to the modern era. The organization bringing that idea to fruition today consists of 115 members, a mix of individuals (70), active athletes (15), representatives of international sporting federations (15) and representatives of the National Olympic Committees (15).
The members of the IOC elect its president, who can lead for up to two four-year terms. The current president is Thomas Bach, a gold medalist in fencing, and he’ll finish up his first term in 2017. He’s only the eighth person to lead the IOC, and when you look at the list of IOC presidents, you’ll find one common thread: They’re a bunch of while European guys, except for Avery Brunderage, a white guy from the U.S.
That’s not to say that the IOC is only made up of white European men. No, there are Africans, Asians, Latinos and women on the IOC, but when you try to understand how the IOC thinks, it does come from a tradition of titled white guys who are used to a certain standard of living and are not necessarily able to roll with the times, particularly in the realm of women’s participation in Olympic events.
Overall, the IOC exists to put on its massive athletic spectacle and promote peace through sport. It’s trying to battle doping to ensure fair competition, and it also endeavors to promote sporting activities for everyone.