IOC Lausanne

Michael Payne awarded Pierre de Coubertin Medal in Lausanne

December 1, 2022

Michael Payne, former Director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and long-time Olympic commentator, has been awarded, by the IOC, the prestigious Pierre de Coubertin Medal at a special ceremony in Lausanne, Switzerland. 

Created in 1997, the Pierre de Coubertin Medal is awarded by the IOC as a tribute to educators, writers, sports executives, cultural figures, corporate leaders, athletes and individuals who deliver exceptional services to the Olympic Movement and carry out achievements in the cause of world sport. Previous recipients of the award, which has only been awarded 42 times, include Emil Zátopek, Gianni Agnelli, Henry Kissinger, Juan Antonio Samaranch and Prince Rainier of Monaco.

As the IOC’s first ever Marketing and Broadcast Rights Director, Michael led the global marketing effort of the Olympic Movement for more than two decades, from 1983 to 2004, and has continued to advise corporations and sports bodies.

More recently, Michael, a collector of political cartoons, told the extraordinary story behind the modern Olympic Games through 1,200 Olympic-themed cartoons, accompanied by a personal 100,000-word commentary, in a one-of-a-kind, 500 page coffee table book, “Toon In!”.

IOC Vice-President Ser Miang Ng, who presented the award on behalf of IOC President Thomas Bach, said:

“You have dedicated your life to sport – and to the Olympic Movement. It was at the IOC, where you became the first-ever Marketing Director, when your passion for sports and marketing combined. Even after you left the IOC, you remained close to the Olympic Movement. 

“But why we are here today, is not because all of this, but because of your irreverent sense of humour, which found its creative outlet with Toon In!, collecting 1,200 cartoons about the Olympics. This is an outstanding contribution to Olympism, which was described by Pierre de Coubertin as philosophy of life and a link between sport and culture.

“In recognition of your outstanding achievements in the cause of world sport and your faithfulness to the Olympic ideal as illustrated by Pierre de Coubertin, renovator of the Olympic Games, it is an honour and pleasure to present you the Pierre de Coubertin Medal. You are the first recipient of the Pierre de Coubertin Medal, inscribed with the new Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius – Communiter.”

Speaking after becoming the first-ever British-Irish recipient of the award, Michael Payne said:

“I am deeply honoured to receive this prestigious award, and when I look at some of the past recipients, honestly don’t feel worthy – but thank you, thank you for this great honour.

“It has been the greatest privilege of my professional life to serve the Olympic Movement now for close to four decades, and my next thanks of appreciation goes to all my Olympic friends, many with us tonight, who share the same passion for the power of the Olympic rings to unite and help the world to celebrate humanity. Thank you for your guidance and friendship, and trust when I turn up with some crazy marketing idea

IOC Lausanne