February 13, 2023, saw the 80th birthday of the President of the European Olympic Academies, Manfred Laemmer. On this occasion, the EOA, together with Maccabi Germany, the German Olympic Academy and the German Sports & Olympic Museum, is preparing a symposium at the end of April in honour of its highly esteemed colleague.
At the age of 80, EOA President Manfred Laemmer still burns with the same fire for the Olympic idea. Born in the Westphalian town of Gladbeck, the young athlete (hurdling and high-jump), who was also fascinated by history, moved to Cologne, where he studied Greek, Latin and History at the University of Cologne and Physical Education at the German Sport University (GSU).
After his studies in 1967 with a dissertation on Greek competitions in Ephesus and his habilitation on “Studies on the Role of Greek Athletic Festivals and Roman Games in the Conflict between Judaism and Hellenism”, he was appointed Full Professor and Head of the Institute of Sport History at GSU in 1975. During his 35-year tenure, he published extensively on ancient Greek athletics and the history and ideology of the Olympic Movement. In 1973, he was one of the founders of the International Society for the History of Physical Education in Sport (HISPA, now ISPHES) and later served as its President and Honorary Member.
In addition to his academic career, Manfred Laemmer has always been engaged in sport politics and international sport relations. Among other things, he was on the Commission advising Willi Daume, the President of the NOC for Germany from the Olympic Congress in Baden-Baden in 1981 onwards, on the Board of the German Olympic Society since 1990, on the Board of the German Olympic Academy since its founding in 2006, co-initiator and head of the development of the German Sports & Olympic Museum in Cologne (opened in 1999).
Particularly noteworthy are his ties to the Fair Play Movement as a Commissioner for the Fair Play Initiative of German Sport, as Vice-President of the European Fair Play Movement (1994-2012) and Chair of the Jury of the German Fair Play Award (since 2011).
Furthermore, he was a pioneer in the field of German-Israeli sports relations, which developed since the 1960s through first-time student exchange programmes, especially between the GSU and the Wingate Institute in Netanya. Today, he is still in great demand for projects in international sports relations and is in charge of German-Israeli sports encounters.
The idea of an Association of National Olympic Academies was pushed forward by him after the Eltville Conference in 2012, as Chair of the EOA Initiative Committee and as its first President, now in its fifth year. Laemmer’s efforts have most recently culminated in the successful EOA Congress Frankfurt, which brought together 60 NOA delegates and partners and experts to discuss the “stormy waters” of the Olympic Movement.
Among his innumerable distinctions are the Pierre de Coubertin Award of the International Society of Olympic Historians (ISOH), the ISHPES Award, an honorary doctorate and, above all, the Federal Cross of Merit, 1st Class, from the President of the Federal Republic of Germany.
“Manfred [Laemmer] inspires us in the EOA family with his dedication to international understanding, his outstanding expertise and his relentlessness in carrying forward the spirit of the Olympic Movement. We wish him all the best for his birthday and the same perseverance to continue realising his vision,” said Vice-President Mariia Bulatova.
The EOA, in cooperation with the German Olympic Academy, Maccabi Germany, and the German Sports & Olympic Museum, will host a symposium on the occasion of Manfred Laemmer’s 80th birthday in Frankfurt on 28 April 2023. More information can be found here: Symposium 2023.