Britain and the Olympic Games (8 august 1912)

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Britain and the Olympic Games is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Times on 8 august 1912.

Britain and the Olympic Games

The Times (8 august 1912)




Sir, — The debate as to our preparations for the next Olympic Games tends to take the shape of recrimination rather than of construction. Might I appeal to all concerned to let bygones be bygones, and to centre our efforts upon the future? The scoring of debating points over each other only darkens counsel. The chief offender in the past has been the easy-going public, which has not taken an interest until our comparative failure at Stockholm came to waken it out of its indifference. The first step now is that every one should be magnanimous enough to forget any quarrels of the past, to express regret for them, and to unite with the one unselfish ideal of forming the best instrument for the purpose in hand.

I am aware that I speak with no authority upon such a subject, but I have the advantage of complete independence since I do not belong now, and never could in the future, to any governing body, nor have I taken sides in any altercation. Perhaps, then, I may be allowed to make a suggestion as to organisation. It is clear that this matter must be set right and endorsed by Press and public before any appeal for funds upon a large scale will have any chance of success.

The Olympic Association of the past has worked against the great difficulty of public apathy. It has done some particularly good work - especially in the matter of the London Games, which will probably fix the Olympic type for ever. The Council consists of about 50 members, who include the presidents or representatives of nearly every branch of sport. Such a body is, as it seems to me, far too valuable to dissolve, and should always be retained as a final court of appeal in which any matter affecting the general policy of Great Britain towards the Games might be discussed and settled.

It is clear, however, that such a gathering is much too large for executive purposes. The smaller a body the more does each member feel his personal responsibility and the greater the results achieved. The ideal executive committee would, as it seems to me, consist of a nucleus of four or five from the present Olympic Association, with as many more co-opted from outside - not only from the Universities, but from popular athletic bodies through-out the country, and from men of affairs who are outside the ordinary circles of sport. Various committees for finance, training, and other purposes could be formed in such a way, each with wide powers in its own department. Such an arrangement would have the advantage that it could be taken in hand by the Association and put through without delay.

My contention is that if some practical organisation of this sort could be at once formed and gain the general endorsement and confidence of the public, we could then appeal for the large sum which will be needed without any danger of being refused. The public will want to know in advance what it is going to get for its money. If they see a definite practical scheme, and if the names which guarantee it show that the ranks are closed and all are of one mind, we shall have overcome the greatest difficulty which lies between us and Berlin.

Yours faithfully,

Windlesham, Crowborough, Sussex, Aug. 5.

See also