The Olympic Games and international law. A missed encounter and close encounters of the third type

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The relations between international law and the Olympic Games reflect the evolution of this legal order and of the society it rules, both faced with privatisation. From the rebirth of the Olympics, the IOC – a private law entity – has developed a monopolistic lex olympica to rule the Games. As States were not interested in regulating the OG, international law dealt with this major sport event only by accident. Nevertheless, by the 1980s the IOC had realised that resorting to international law might help protect the Games from boycott. It passed cooperation agreements with international organisations; it managed to have the Olympic Truce recognised by the General Assembly of the UN and it now follows the criteria of the international community when recognising new national Olympic committees. Besides, the evolution of anti-doping law and the capacity of the IOC to conclude State contracts on the organisation of the OG show that international law may now reach the core of the Games.