Every year, National Olympic Committees (NOCs) all over the world organise a celebration in honour of the foundation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on 23 June 1894 in Paris. On this occasion, Pierre de Coubertin obtained the re-establishment of the Olympic Games.

The World Olympic Day celebration was made an annual event in the Olympic Movement at the 42nd IOC Session in January 1948. The first Olympic Day was celebrated on 23 June of that year with Portugal, Greece, Austria, Canada, Switzerland, Great Britain, Uruguay, Venezuela and Belgium participating in their respective countries.

In order to encourage all NOCs to commemorate Olympic Day, the Sport for All Commission launched the concept of the Olympic Day Run. Forty-five NOCs held the first run in 1987. In 2001 this number had grown to 169 out of the 199 NOCs recognised by the IOC.

The goal of the Olympic Day Run is to promote the practice of mass sport. Due to the popularity of the run, some NOCs have decided to hold the race over several distances in order to attract more men, women and children of all ages. In addition, a variety of sports activities, demonstrations and cultural and artistic events have been added to the programme to appeal to more people. In some countries, runs are held concurrently in several towns. A substantial number of disabled people have also started to take part in the event.

Olympic Solidarity provides those NOCs organising a run with a financial contribution and the IOC supplies them with certificates signed by the IOC President. The Coca-Cola Company, a loyal sponsor of the Olympic Games since 1928, has been the worldwide partner for the Olympic Day Run since 1989.

Olympic Day Run In New Zealand

The focus of Olympic Day in New Zealand is on promoting the Olympic Movement as recommended in the Olympic Charter, which formed the basis for the establishment of Olympic Day in 1947.  The Olympic Day Run should be placed in an educative context and form an integral, but not a dominating part of this celebration.  The New Zealand Olympic Committee wants to do more than get people to participate in the Olympic Day Run.

The Olympic Day Run is promoted throughout all schools in New Zealand and supported by the co-operation agreement between the NZOC and Physical Education New Zealand (PENZ) – the organisation that represents all teachers of physical education in this country.

 In 2004 just under 500 schools and nearly 100,000 took part,with approximately 50 Olympians supporting the run.   

Find out more about this year's Olympic Day Run in our Education section