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Born in Paris into an aristocratic family, De Coubertin was inspired by his visits to British and American colleges and universities, and set out to try and improve education. Part of this improvement should be sports education, which he tought to be an important part of the personal development of young people.
He conceived of an international competition to promote athletics. A growing international interest in the acient Olympics, fed by recent archaegological finds at Olympia, De Coubertin devised a plan to revive the Olympic Games.
To publicize these plans, he organised an international congress on June 23, 1894 at the Sorbonne in Paris. There he proposed to reinstate the ancient Olympic Games. The congress lead to the establishing of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), of which De Coubertin became the general secretary. It was also decided that the first modern Olympics would take place in Athens, Greece. These Games proved a success, and De Coubertin took over the IOC presidency when Demetrius Vikelas stepped down after the Olympics in his own country.
This changed for the better after the 1906 Summer Olympics, and the Olympic Games grew to become the most important sports event. De Coubertin stepped down from his IOC presidency after the 1924 Olympics in Paris, which proved much more successful than the first attempt in that city in 1900. He was succeeded as president by Belgian Henri de Baillet-Latour.
De Coubertin remained Honourary President of the IOC until he died in 1937 in Geneva, Switzerland. He was buried in Lausanne (the seat of the IOC), although his heart was buried separately in a monument near the ruins of ancient Olympia.