What is it about?

This study provides an overview of the most established Olympism-based Sport for Peace & Sustainable Development applied theories derived from 30 years of results-based field interventions and evidence provided across fragile communities and countries with a long history of conflict. Through this manuscript, peace and social psychology researchers and practitioners will enrich their understanding and perspective of Olympism for Humanity Literacy and Actualization (Lyras, 2020, 2021), the integration of Olympian Heritage and Olympic Education with peace education, social innovation, and sustainable development as an unconventional tool and an effective peace and democracy actualization platform (Moghaddam, 2016, 2019, 2021).

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Why is it important?

Tokyo won the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid with the argument that the Olympic Movement needed a real-life example of how the Olympic idea and Sport can serve as a vehicle for recovery from man-made and natural disasters. "Restore, in other words, the connection of the Games with its roots: Olympism, Humanism and Humanity in Action" (Lyras,2020, p. 400). To achieve that, however, Lyras suggests that we need to acknowledge, the alarmingly increasing Olympic divide, between the vague ideal and today’s sports reality, which requires robust scientific guidelines on how Olympism and Olympic Education can embrace restoration, peace, and recovery outcomes (Lyras, 2020). Peace researchers and practitioners can play a significant role in reversing this trend and addressing one of the biggest challenges of the existing body of knowledge, the fact that “the complexity of the Olympian Heritage and Civilization is not fully comprehended or operationalized in practice” (Lyras, 2020, p. 400). Lyras' Olympism for Humanity (O4H) and Sport for Development Theories (SFDT) provide the Olympic Education context and robust recommendations on how researchers and practitioners can operationalize, "test, trace and transform" the abstraction of the Olympic ideal into tangible programs, events, policies, and interventions. Through this manuscript, peace researchers and practitioners are strongly encouraged to further utilize this body of knowledge as a peacebuilding platform for pursuing de-radicalization, omniculturism, sustainable development, personal and democracy actualization outcomes (Moghaddam, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021). Moving closer, in other words, to Olympism for Humanity (O4H) Actualization (Lyras, 2021).


Athleticism (and the Olympic ideal) as a Peacebuilding, and Democracy Actualization platform has its roots in ancient Greece (Lyras, 2020, 2021). According to Greek mythology, the establishment of the ancient Olympic Games was a response to the sacred command for addressing war, disease, and conflict in the ancient Greek world. The rationale of this peace and development intervention was to transform inter-city hatred and aggression into peaceful and creative co-existence through inter-group contact that satisfied the four conditions of the contact hypothesis of Allport’s theory (1954), via athletic and artistic contests. This intercultural educational context provided a peacebuilding platform that generated creative thinking, dialogue, philosophy and Democracy (Lyras, 2020, 2021). While humanity enters the third year of the global pandemic, social psychology, political science, sport, and conflict resolution researchers and practitioners are called to champion new programs and solutions that promote internationalization, a sense of humanity- social innovation, and democracy actualization. Sugden and Tomlinson’s ripple effect and Lyras’ O4H and SFD Theories synthesize 30 years of sport and peace fieldwork- grounded on Yiannaki’s (1989) Applied Sociology of Sport call for action- with today's challenges by "preparing researchers as agents of change, knowledge producers, and knowledge brokers who do not just theorize how things could have been but demonstrating how things ought to be on the field and through actions" (Lyras, 2021, p.660). While going on over 30 years, the concept of Applied Sociology of Sport – especially in the peacebuilding context- is timely and relevant given the current state of global affairs (Lyras, 2021). Olympism, the integration of Education, Sport, and Cultural Diplomacy, can potentially serve as an unconventional platform for pursuing such peacebuilding goals and social-psychological outcomes (Lyras, 2021). This publication provides guidelines, practical recommendations, and research propositions related to Olympism for Humanity Literacy and Actualization as an Applied Olympic Education competency framework and a blueprint for Academic actions in the post covid era- and for optimizing the impact of Olympism in society. Embracing in this way, the essence of the Olympic idea - to unleash and actualize human creativity, spirituality, and full potential.

Alexis Lyras
Georgetown University

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This page is a summary of: Olympism for humanity theory and praxis: A call for peace and democracy champions of change., Peace and Conflict Journal of Peace Psychology, November 2021, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/pac0000498.
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