Demetrius Vikelas

Picture of Demetrius Vikelas

Nationality: Greece


Demetrius Vikelas born in Ermoupolis on Syros island (Greece). His father was a native of Constantinople, mother - from Odessa. I grew up a sickly child. Due to ill health he studied irregularly.

As a child, Demetrius often stayed with relatives in Constantinople, in Taganrog, in Odessa. He is interested in foreign languages, literatures, arts, engaged in translation. Father, trading in grain, trying to attach his son to the business, but in 1851 his company went bankrupt, and Demetrius in search of work went to Italy, then to France, and in 17 years, moved to London, where he began working in the company of his uncle, first as an accountant and then a full-fledged business partner. Family business brings good income. In London Vikelas met and became friends with the son of the Greek Ambassador Charilaos Trikoupis, the future Prime Minister of Greece.

After gaining financial independence, Vikelas able to do what he likes. Soon there were his translations of Greek tragedies of Racine`s "Esther", Goethe`s "Faust." Also Vikelas published treatise "Byzantium and Modern Greece" and the book "Tales of the Aegean Sea." Through his work Vikelas acquired great fame in his home country.

In the early 70-ies Vikelas moved to Paris. In 1877 he published a pamphlet "The school in the village," where he made for the introduction of universal education in Greece. Vikelas lectured, published works about the achievements of ancient and modern Greece. He soon became known in many European countries.

In 1894 Vikelas at the invitation of his friend Pierre de Coubertin on them convened in Paris represented Panhellenic Congress Athens club. It was decided on the basis of the modern Olympic movement. Vikelas made a presentation about the Olympic Games of antiquity, written for him by one of his compatriots.

Originally, Coubertin first proposed a new Olympic Games in Paris in 1900, but Vikelas convinced him and the newly created International Olympic Committee that the Games should be held in Athens, which would symbolize the continuity of the new ancient Greek Olympics. Since the constitution of the IOC at the time required that the president of the committee was representative of the country hosting the next Olympic Games, the first president of the IOC, was elected Demetrius Vikelas. Thanks to personal connections and influence Vikelasa managed to solve the numerous problems faced by the Games organizers.

Organizers feared that in the case of waiting until 1900 society will lose interest in the Games. Therefore, the first Olympics took place already in 1896 and was a great success. After its closure, Vikelas resigned as president of the IOC, and returned to the study of problems of upbringing and education, which he was always interested.

Vikelasa so inspired by the success of the Games in Athens, which is the second Olympic Congress in 1897 in Le Havre, he proposed to hold the Olympic Games permanently in Greece. Against this dramatically expressed by the majority of delegates, including Coubertin. Vikelas withdrew from the Olympic Movement and switched to the realization of their creative ideas. So in 1904 he organized in Athens Congress on Education.

Last time with former colleagues on the International Olympic Committee Vikelas saw in Brussels at the III Olympic Congress, where he attended as a specially invited guest.

Demetrius Vikelas died July 20, 1908 in Athens, at the age of 73 years.