Meet our members – An interview series by the EOA
The EOA had a stimulating conversation with Zsuzsanna Bukta and Lilla Szijj from the Hungarian Olympic Academy (HOA) to learn more about their structures and activities. The Academy works as a Commission of the NOC of Hungary and is committed to living up to the great Olympic heritage in Hungary and spreading the Olympic idea throughout the country.
First we look at the structure of the HOA. Zsuszanna Bukta tells us that she is the new President since 2021, elected by the Executive Board of the National Olympic Committee. She chairs a 15-member board consisting of historians, teachers, athletes, sports media professionals, university teachers and museum directors. These members, one of whom is Lilla Szijj, responsible for international relations, serve four-year voluntary terms. The diversity of this board implies a solid network within the national organised sport and a special emphasis on the Olympic heritage and Olympic education. The board is supported by a part-time employee.
As the NOA is not an independent legal entity, the financial business is conducted through the NOC. The HOA can decide on its own budget after consultation and utilises it for its own projects. The funds originate directly from the Hungarian government, through the budget of the NOC and individual projects through Olympic Solidarity.
In the past, the Hungarian Olympic Academy had placed a major focus on Olympic heritage, which was reflected in the organisation of commemorative events. With the new leadership, the Academy is now trying to open up other fields and develop more educational activities through cooperation with teaching institutions.
Special in Hungary is the “Network of Olympic fan clubs”, where Olympic interested people organise events and other activities, invite well-known people from the Olympic family. The Academy supports this separate network. Furthermore, there is a group of “Olympic Schools”. These schools, about 20 in number, named themselves after famous Hungarian Olympic athletes and offer various Olympic education events for their students. These schools, as well as others, are also supported by the HOA.
Zsuzsanna Bukta works primarily as a university teacher and therefore brings in the perspective of the institutions of higher learning. Here too, projects related to the Olympic Values Education Programme (OVEP) are planned for students but also for PE teachers for high schools. Zsuzsanna Bukta is presently in the process of setting up an Olympic club across the faculties at the ELTE University in Budapest, which will facilitate lectures, media outputs (such as a podcast) and other activities.
In the past, the Hungarian Olympic Academy maintained cooperation through joint projects with the Slovak Olympic Academy and the colleagues from Romania, neighbouring countries that partly have Hungarian minorities (as is the case in Transylvania). In the past, there have also been joint activities with the NOAs of Bulgaria and Ukraine.
Projects of the Academy
The Hungarian Olympic Academy is an independent body under the umbrella of the Hungarian Olympic Committee, but it is financially dependent on the Committee. The main pillars of the Hungarian Olympic Academy are the following: Olympic Clubs Olympic Quiz – national and international Seminars, conferences Olympic Schools. Our Board is composed of scholars, journalists, professors, historians, etc… We are proud of the Hungarian Sport Diplomats of the past and the present. Including but not limited to the following personalities: Dr Ferenc Kemény: IOC Co-founder and member (1894-1907). He was in very good relationship with Baron Pierre De Coubertin, and also made efforts to bring the Games to Hungary. Dr Arpad Csanádi, IOC Member (1964-83). There is an Arpad Csanadi Olympic School in Budapest. It has Olympic Education in School Curricula, organises different commemorative events to Arpad Csanadi, also sports events, and takes part in the Olympic Quiz as well. Mr Pál Schmitt, former President of Republic of Hungary, IOC Member (1983-), NOC Member and Honorary President. Dr Tamas Ajan, HOA President, IWF President, IOC member Otto Szymiczek: Dean and Rector of International Olympic Academy. Supported the establishment of the Hungarian Olympic Academy nurtures a very good relationship with the IOA. HOA/HOC has been representing itself on each event of the IOA already from 1966 (Young Participants’ Session). There are already two master degree holders of the IOA Master Program, and also four Postgraduate degree holders. HOA organises study visit to Olympia each year. The Board of HOA works independently, and each Members has its role, which is:
- Materials (questions, tasks) for mental competitions
- Exhibitions in cooperation with Olympic & Sport Museum
- Presentations, research, publications (quarterly & yearly)
- International relationships
- Commemorative events
- Regular events (conferences, meetings for directors of schools and clubs)
- Funerals of champions
- Events of Olympic Schools and Clubs
History of the Academy
The 49th paragraph of the Statute of the Hungarian Olympic Committee describes, that the Hungarian Olympic Committee runs the Hungarian Olympic Academy intending to nurture the Olympic Idea and the traditions of the Hungarian sports movement. The preparation of the establishment of the HOA was conducted by Árpád Csanádi, HOC General Secretary and IOC Member of that time around 1982. He died in 1983, thus his predecessor, Pal Schmitt fastened the process so that the Hungarian Olympic Academy was established in 1985. Its inaugural meeting was organized at the Hungarian Sort University, where Juan Antonio Samaranch was also presented. It was the 26th Olympic Academy in the world, and first among socialist countries. Its first President was Pal Schmitt, General Secretary was Laszlo Kutassi. From 1990 Ajan Tamas became its President, and from 1992 Maria Jakabhazy-Mezo became its Secretary, later General Secretary until 2016. After that Laszlo Lehmann was the General Secretary for one and a half years. Until now the General Secretary is Bela Győr, vice presidents are Sandor Szakaly historian and Janos Martinek, two-times Olympic champion in modern pentathlon.