Portuguese Olympic Academy


Country Portugal
Name of AcademyPortuguese Olympic Academy (AOP)
Academia Olímpica de Portugal
Name of PresidentTiago VIEGAS
Contact PersonCarlos GOMES
Foundation date04 December 1986
Year of accession to EOA2018 (founding member)
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Meet our members – An interview series by the EOA

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A virtual visit in November 2021 to the country in the westernmost expansion of the EOA gave us a comprehensive insight into the work of the Academia Olímpica de Portugal (AOP). Carlos Gomes, AOP’s long-time staff member, took us on a journey from the beginnings and history of the AOP to the current projects and challenges. An embroidered version of the Academy’s wonderful logo in the background signalled that the AOP has settled well into its new relatively space at the headquarters of the NOC of Portugal in Lisbon.

As the NOC of Portugal had continuously sent participants to the IOA Sessions since the 60s, it was decided in 1986 to found a separate institution to serve as the National Olympic Academy. On this occasion all previous Portuguese participants of IOA Sessions were invited to form the first National Annual Session of the AOP. Carlos Gomes proudly mentions that, with only two exceptions, every year saw an Annual Session with alternating locations within Portugal. In 2021, the 32nd Annual Session took place in Portalegre. In this sense, the AOP can be considered as a mini-IOA model.

Carlos Gomes clarifies that the AOP is not an independent organisation, but an autonomous entity within the NOC, similar to the Athletes Commission in Portugal. This setup allows them to develop plans independently and to manage their own financial accounts. Meanwhile, funding is solely provided by the NOC, except for occasional financial compromises with the hosting municipality at the Annual Sessions.

The two bodies of the AOP are the General Assembly and the Executive Council. The former consists of about 750 members, mostly IOA and NOA Session participants, and convenes once every Olympic cycle for electoral purposes and twice a year to discuss the previous year’s report and accounts and to approve the activity plan and budget for the following year. The Executive Council has a total of seven members, who are elected by the General Assembly. The current President is Tiago Viegas.

Beyond the Annual Session, the Academy organises several school-based projects and other activities. A major multi-year effort being undertaken is an oral history project that will record eyewitnesses to the events of the past.

Naturally, the AOP is also a member of the Paniberian Association of Olympic Academies, in addition to the EOA. This Association holds a Congress every two years. In addition, they maintain bilateral contact with NOAs from Portuguese-speaking countries, most of which are in Africa.

Projects of the Academy

Since 1988, NOA Portugal conducts an Annual Session, which functions as a seminar on Olympic issues held for three days (current format) in a different city each year. Since 2006, NOA Portugal organizes regular travelling exhibitions on Olympic thematic, mainly devoted to the history of the Portuguese participation in the Olympic Games or more specific subjects (the Olympic mascots, for instance). Since June 2019, NOA Portugal has been doing the «Olympic Talks», a gathering held every month with special guests (usually Olympic athletes) to talk with everyone interested in Olympic subjects. These talks take place in a different city each month, in partnership with town halls, universities and other institutions. The NOA’s website has been used also to publish opinion articles, through which members of the Academy express their personal opinions. This project («In the opinion of…») allows touching a variety of Olympic subjects. In 2020, NOA Portugal is to implement what it called «Olympic Cultural Program 2020», a project aiming to involve the input of as many activities as possible, promoted both by the NOA and by several dozens of institutional partners. These activities must be submitted to at least one of the following subjects: «Olympic Games», «Japan», «Tokyo». Each of these activities shall discuss the subject in an artistical or ideological point of view, rather than referring sport in any technical approach.

History of the NOA

NOA Portugal was founded on December 4th, 1986, composed by the participants in the previous IOA international sessions for young participants, as well as several members of the NOC board. In 1992, following a similar decision by the NOC, the Portuguese Olympic Academy changed its name to Portugal’s Olympic Academy, which it currently bears. According to the charter of the NOC Portugal, the NOA is an «integrated entity», which confers a statute of autonomy regarding budget and activities. Nevertheless, the NOA’s functioning depends largely on NOC’s funding. The statutory mission of NOA Portugal is to study the Olympic phenomenon and to promote the Olympic values.

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