Dimitrios Vikelas

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Dimitrios Vikelas,(Greek: Δημήτριος Βικέλας) (February 15, 1835July 20, 1908) was a Greek scholar, man of letters and the first president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from 1894 to 1896. He was an author, historiographer, translator, benefactor and advocate of the revival of the Olympic Games.

Born in Ermoupolis, on the island of Syros in Greece, from a cosmopolitan well educated of family traders, he had a constantly interrupted education. At the age of 5 he migrated to Istanbul, and from there to Odessa and back to Syros where he studied in a private school. He left home at 17 to work for his uncle in London, first as a bookkeeper, and then as a partner. In London, he met and became friends with Charilaos Trikoupis, the son of the Greek ambassador, who later became Prime Minister of Greece.

Vikelas represented the Panellinios Gymnastic Club at the 1894 Paris congress, convened by De Coubertin, where the modern Olympic Movement was founded. Originally, it had been De Coubertin's idea to hold the first celebration of the modern Olympics in Paris in 1900, but Vikelas convinced him and the newly created IOC that they should be held in Athens. As the constitution of the IOC at that time required the IOC president to be from the country which would host the next Games, Vikelas became the IOC's first president. After these first Olympics, which proved a success, Vikelas withdrew from the IOC and turned his attention elsewhere. He died in Athens, aged 73.

Vikelas was the benefactor of the Vikelaia Library of Heraklion, Crete, one of the best libraries of Greece.

External Links

Vikelaia Library