The Intellectual Olympics

By Professor Akira Ishikawa
Graduate School of International Politics, Economics and Business
Aoyama Gakuin University

1. Introduction

Knowledge and intelligence need to be used and wisely shared for the sake of the sustainable development within our global village. Knowledge and intelligence should not be kept for the sole benefit of selected individuals or groups. Now is the time to manage as wisely as possible the already accumulated and rapidly expanding knowledge in a manner which promises benefit to all mankind. The Intellectual Olympics is considered to be a real and lasting means by which to bring about the resolution of important current and impending problems shared by the entire world.

The directions in which we need to proceed in order to find radical solutions to global issues, are guided by the belief that humans can and should be wiser and more intelligent; it is believed that these solutions should include:

1. Maintaining a mutual exchange of information. 2. Searching continuously for better ways of managing human intelligence and wisdom on an integrated basis. 3. The continual study of methods by which we can redirect the human energy which is now being devoted to confrontation into a quest for cooperation and mutual benefit. 4. Seeking to convert the Culture of War a new Culture of Peace. It is believed that holding an Intellectual Olympics has the potential to become one of the most effective and perhaps even indispensable means available to the eliminate the fears of war and other political risks, and a method by which to foster a cooperative and collaborative spirit between and among the countries of the world.

2. Intellectual Olympics Concept

A well-balanced development of the physical, spiritual, technical and intellectual power of humans is essential.

The Ancient Olympics and the Modern Olympics were started as ceremonial events to play for peace and to prevent natural calamities. The technical equivalent, the International Vocational Tr a i n i n g Competition, was established in order to increase the level of vocational training and techniques and to thereby enhance friendships among nations.

Looking over these developments one sees that it would be a very natural step in human history to create some form of Intellectual Olympics in which people would compete in the use and management of human intelligence for maintaining the peace, justice, a healthy and sustainable environment, as well as security and continuous prosperity. If such Games were to be held successfully, then through these Intellectual Olympics it could be very possible to consider a variety of global problems beyond the scope of national boundaries and envisage both problems and their corresponding solutions in the 21st century and beyond. The Intellectual Olympics will encourage these efforts at both a grass roots level and at the global level.

In particular, concern should be first focused upon the most desirable returns to be gained by spending the minimum of resources in ecological terms, coupled with a determination of the optimal methods for allocation of limited resources on a longer-term basis. An important example would be that of the alleviation of problems resulting from the gap between the rich and poor and how to lessen the overall level of starvation and sickness in the world. One of the crucial aims of the endeavor must be how to redeploy human energies from confrontation to a spirit of cooperation and coordination.

3. Charter of Intellectual Olympics

Just as the charter of the physical Olympics exists, so the Charter of the Intellectual Olympics needs to be established. It is believed that one of the main reasons why the physical Olympics have continued so successfully to date is because its activities strongly promote peace through Olympism and the Olympic Movement.

According to one of the nine fundamental principles of the Olympic Charter (no. 3), the goal of Olympism — which is a philosophy of life that exalts and combines in a balanced whole the qualities of body, will and mind — is to place sport at the service of the harmonious development of man everywhere, and to preserve human dignity. To this effect, the Olympic Movement engages, alone or in cooperation with other organizations and within the limits of its means, in actions that will promote peace.

Further, the goal of the Olympic Movement (no. 6) is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating our youth through sports practiced without discrimination of any kind, and in the Olympic spirit. This requires mutual understanding within a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.

Rewriting part of the above principles as “through intellectual games and projects” instead of “through sport” in no. 6 and from “to place everywhere sports” to “to place everywhere intellectual games and projects” in no. 3, would establish the major principles of the Intellectual Olympics. The new International Intellectual Olympic Committee (IIOC) would then be qualified to be one of the “other organizations” in no. 6.

One of the crucial features that differentiate the Intellectual Olympics from the Physical Olympics is that they deal with peace, prosperity and a safer environment for mankind on a long-term basis, rather than competition within a given space and within a comparatively short period of time as in the physical Olympics. Despite this difference, the results of competition can still be evaluated by a group of judges, as in the case of gymnastics and, for example, the uneven bar competition.

If Sportsmanship has been long preserved as the spirit of the physical Olympics, then Researchship, so to speak, can be a counterpart within the Intellectual Olympics. Certainly, researchers who seek to improve the world must be free from discrimination of any kind.

4. Implementation of Intellectual Olympics

One suggested method of implementing the Intellectual Olympics is to invite all the major international conferences of selected well-established disciplines within a given city to participate in the Games after an Olympic city has been selected. In this case, representative themes need to be selected from each discipline in the light of criteria determined by a Selection Committee. A group of representatives of each country would then make presentations and undertake discussions. Some of the differences compared with the traditional conferences would be:

1. A wider variety of professionals would come together for the consideration of themes that other professionals are interested in. 2. The themes would be related to common, important and impending global problems with potential for solution. 3. Following the presentations and discussions, evaluations would be made by the judges and the results announced on the basis of standardized criteria. Regarding the Committee of Judges, members of the Selection Committee for the Nobel Prize and its equivalents would be suitable candidates. While this kind of judging can be undertaken throughout the year without specifying a precise time, the various face-to-face presentations and discussions within a given period would be no less important than a series of continuous events.

It is very natural that the presentations and discussions would be broadcast throughout the world, as has been the case with the Physical Olympics. The greater number of people who view and witness these events, the more likely it is that we will try to resolve our common and impeding problems on a global scale.

Since the criteria of evaluation would be continually revised, this revision needs to be included as one of the major events every time the Intellectual Olympics are held. It is needed to evaluate how well we have subsequently acted on various presentations and proposals previously made for the betterment of the world.

In order to incorporate the major and common intellectual disciplines, 5-10 disciplines, based on the areas of the Nobel Prize, international decimal classifications, and the Russian library classifications, need to be identified. Supposing five areas — such as politics, economics and ecology, sociology, culture and technology — it would be necessary to identify about 3-5 further sub-areas of each, which would provide a total of 15-25 areas of discipline in which to compete.

It is imperative that through an early summit meeting and equivalent activities, the significance and necessity of the Intellectual Olympics be widely understood and appropriate actions taken, including the organization of a committee to prepare for the Intellectual Olympics.

5. Frequency of Intellectual Olympics

Taking the Physical Olympics and World Expositions into consideration, once every four to six years seems a feasible frequency of the Games. After the results of the Olympics have been published, a period for assessment and reflection will be necessary, following which the action-oriented proposal will be

adopted by the relevant political, economic, social and technological organizations in each country and within multi-national organizations and institutions. Such actions will enrich further the subsequent events of the Intellectual Olympics. The optimal frequency of the Games is one of the most important factors to be determined if the Intellectual Olympics are to continue to be relevant for many years to come.

Theater Olympics: A Case of Intellectual Olympics


Succeeding to the First Theater Olympics held in Athens, as the First Physical Olympics was held in the same, the Second Olympics was held in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan from April 16 to June 13, 1999. Article 1 of the Theater Olympics states that the entity shall be entitled Theater Olympics and that the subtitle of the Olympics is entitled, “Crossing Millennia,” which implies the cross-fertilization of the past with the future. The organization is composed of eight members of the International Committee, representing eight different nations, Greece, Spain, Great Britain, Russia, Germany, Japan, and the United States. The members of the Committee shall not only be responsible for expressing opinions in the planning stages, but shall also work interactively, thus making this organization unique (Article 3) and in principle the Committee shall meet once a year (Article 4).

Furthermore, the administrative headquarters of Theater Olympics were designated in both Greece (European Office) and Shizuoka, Japan (Asian Office) (Article 7) and the first Theater Olympics events shall be held, in principle, in the countries of the committee members (Article 8). One of the important attempts of the Article 8 is to let each host country form a national committee to meet the country’s respective needs so that the success of the Olympics may be ensured (Article 9). This Article 9 states further that the national supportive committee shall consist of prominent figures in that country’s cultural life. The following will include the overall and specific content of the Olympics event, Places held/features of the program, promotional volunteers and peoples’ support, relevant events, and financial outcome.

Keywords: Intellectual Olympics, Theater Olympics, Culture of War, Culture of Peace

Basic Doctrine

In order to refresh and revitalize Shizuoka Prefecture towards the 21st century, a new cultural creation based upon a global view must be sought. This, however, does not mean totally discontinuing the history and tradition which have been cherished for many years. By taking both aspects into consideration, each individual can participate in artistic and cultural activities, while one attempts to familiarize oneself with beautiful nature and local culture, including historical backgrounds.

For accomplishing such an impending objective, theatrical art, along with the fine arts, music and literature has been placed as the core of cultural enrichment policy, whereby the creation and performance of excellent theatrical art and the rearing of excellent human resources are envisioned. Upon attaining these goals, the realization of thoughtful and mindful life and the construction of the prefecture enshrined with rich culture may come true.

In the midst of discussions and elaborations, Theodoros Terzopoulos, now Chairperson of the International Committee, proposed the establishment of the international event named Theatrical Olympics where creation and rebirth of the theatrical art are intended. Responding to the proposal, the International Committee of Theatre Olympics, consisting of distinguished directors of eight nations was organized, and the First and Second Theatre Olympics were scheduled to be held in Athens, Greece in 1995 and in Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan in 1999, respectively. The aims of Theatre Olympics are to pro- mote the interest for theatrical arts to the public through the demonstration of excellent such performance foreign and domestic and holdings of workshops and lectures by notable directors, and actors to contribute to the revitalization of the activities of theatrical arts and to the enhancement of cultural environment.

Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan, obviously, captured a great opportunity, by which they thought that they could take an initiative by sending information throughout the world, while also deepening the relation- ships with various cultures and peoples worldwide. Moreover, they expected that the people living in Shizuoka Prefecture would be in a position to better understand theatrical arts and to promote such activities to a greater extent.

Theme and Duration

The main theme of the Second Theatrical Olympics was “Crossing Millennia”, with its sub-theme being “Creating Hope.” While the main theme is fully understandable due to the period of the event, the sub-theme was decided upon by the International Committee held in Shizuoka Prefecture in May 1997. Through the discussions, they agreed that they were willing to find out what sorts of aspirations and expectations we have towards the 21st century, and how these expectations appear. They decided unanimously that willingness was to be expressed through the theatrical arts. Succeeding to the determination of both themes, they decided the time duration, with the events starting on April 16, 1999 and ending on June 13, 1999, giving a relevant time frame of approximately two months.

Places to be held

Four main locations were selected; these included an outdoor theater called Yuudo in The Dramatic Arts Park, an indoor theater called Daendou, an intermediate hall in the Convention Arts Center, and a theatrical arts hall named Shizuoka Arts Theater in Shizuoka Prefecture. In addition, cultural event halls and other halls in 13 cities and towns throughout the Prefecture were used for local performances.

Features of the event

Five representative features are summarized within the results of the Theatre Olympics. First of all, it should be pointed out that many performances in a wide variety of styles were demonstrated. The number of performances totaled 92, including 42 presentations from 20 countries. Japan has never before held such a large-scale and multi-performance event, which also included various exhibitions and symposia.

Secondly, a high level of artistic quality and a wide range of participating nations contributed greatly to the success of the Theatre Olympics. The high level of performance quality was maintained due to the

fact that many of those who participated in the events had already directed their performances within each of their respective national and international arts festivals, and were thereby qualified as to both their degree of originality and creativity.

Thirdly, the organizational aspects of the event itself cannot be overlooked. Guiding this was an Organizing Committee consisting of the representatives of cultural and theater organizations, various industries, and the mayors of the cities in which the events were carried out. On the other hand, a Theatre Olympics Promotion Council was organized by various local leaders who thus also became civic advisors for the events. These members were of particular assistance in the preparation and promotion of local events in cooperation with the representatives from the numerous participating cities and towns.

Active Participation as Volunteers

The event leaders also recruited “Theater Friends”, these being volunteers who are engaged in public relations and promotion, as well as serving as interpreter volunteers who are equivalently civic ambassadors.

Moreover, the active participation of the people of the community was evidenced by the role played in Chusingura, a drama accompanied with crowds requiring a number of theatre extras. Approximately 100 people from the community were selected through auditions, and thus participated from the initial training period on through to the final performance; this encompassed a period of approximately three months. This hands-on community participation proved to be a great contribution to the success of the event.

Variety of Relevant Events

In addition to the main and local productions, a number of relevant events — including opening ceremonies, formal and informal friendship receptions, meetings, and commencement ceremonies — were held continuously throughout the course of the Theatre Olympics. As a result, it is reported that approximately 65,000 spectators attended the theatrical arts events and that an additional 76,000 people participated in either main or local events, or other related events, thus making the Second Theatre Olympics a resounding success.

Concluding Remarks

It thus follows that the Second Theatre Olympics should serve as a model event for the Intellectual Olympics in the area of theatrical arts. It is fully conceivable that more such events will emerge and thus enhance each knowledge area with healthy competition that will eventually contribute to a successful transition from the culture of war to a culture of peace.

The leaders of each nation need to enhance such an effort, not by adherence to an in increased military budget, but rather by investing wisely for the sake of peace, justice, and happiness for human survival through the Intellectual Olympics.

References: Akira Ishikawa “Judgment Systems on the Intellectual Olympics,” Research-in-Progress, Vol. VII-AI, pp. 47-52, edited by G. E. Lasker in Dec. 1999 by the IIAS, Windsor, Canada.

The International Mathematical Olympiad: Another Case of Intellectual Olympics


The International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO) in presented here as another successful model for The Intellectual Olympics.

Three of the major objectives of the IMO are to discover young people who are highly proficient in mathematical skill and knowledge, to provide them with opportunities to enhance their capabilities, and to allow the participants to communicate with each other so that such potential and promising leaders may share their knowledge.

To accomplish these objectives, annual Olympic Games are held each year for two weeks during the middle of July. The participating countries choose six delegates selected from domestic contests, along with a leader and sub-leader. A group with a leader visits the site of the Olympics each year at the beginning of July, selects the IMO test problems, and translates them into their mother tongue. Three days later, the six delegates arrive with a sub-leader.

The opening ceremony is held the following day and the third and fourth day comprise the contest, starting from 9:00 am to 13:30 pm with a duration of four hours and 30 minutes. During this time, delegates are required to solve a total of six problems. Upon finishing this contest, international exchange and tour programs ensue. During this period, grading (7 points each and 42 points in total) and the coordination processes that determine the validity of grading are undertaken. This typically entails approximately three days. It is on about the tenth day when the commencement ceremony is held, whereby gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded. One half of the delegates receive medals. The ratio of the number of medals is 1:2:3. The farewell party is held on the same day the medals are presented, and the following day the delegates return to each country.


The First IMO was held in 1959. Romania invited Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Soviet Union to this epoch-marking event. This was due, in fact, to a long-standing tradition: more than one hundred years ago, Hungary and Romania instituted their initial national competitions in mathematics. In the case of Hungary, since 1894 a competition called the Eotvos Contest in elementary mathematics has been open to Hungarian students during their last year of high school. Following this event, in 1895 the Gazeta Mathematica contest was founded, named after one of the representative Romanian mathematics journals for high school students. Other countries soon followed, and by 1938 as many as twelve countries had been periodically organizing their own national mathematics contests. Thus, it was quite a natural conclusion that Romania took the initiative in hosting the first IMO.

Since 1959 the number of participating nations has grown to more than 80 countries from every continent in the world. In 1967, Great Britain, France, and Italy participated in the competition, followed by

the US (1974) and West Germany (1976). While 17 countries joined the 20th Olympiad in 1978, the 31st Olympiad in 1990, in which Japan joined for the first time, accommodated 54 countries, more than three times as many countries as in 1978. In 1998, the number has reached 76 countries, inviting 419 students to gather from all over the world, and a truly worldwide competition has commenced.

Note, however, that many such equivalent competitions have been held in countries such as Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vietnam. The United States alone has at least half a dozen such national mathematical competitions, such as AMC 8, formerly the American Junior High School Mathematics Examination, AMC 10, the American Mathematics Contest for students in Grades 10 or below, AMC 12, formerly the American High School Mathematics Examination, the American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME), the United States Mathematical Olympiad (US-AMO), the W.L. Putnam Mathematical Competition, and a number of regional contests, such as the American Regions Mathematics League (ARML).


What is actually undertaken each year from the initial preparation on through to the conclusion of eventually sending six delegates to the IMO will be briefly described. The case of sending the delegates to the Forty-First IMO in Japan will be mainly illustrated.

Recruitment brochures were distributed beginning in September 1999. A specific telephone number, (03) 5272-9790 was provided for questions. On January 15, 2000, a preliminary examination was given at a specific site designated in each prefecture from 13:00 pm to 16:00 pm and 100 applicants passed the examination. This examination was required to answer 12 questions by spending three hours, as afore-mentioned. Each question is awarded one point for the correct answer, thus 12 points in total. For these 100 students, a prime test was given on February 11, 2000, a national holiday of Founding Day in Japan, from 13:00 pm to 17:00 pm. As a result, 20 students were selected and gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded. A gold medal was presented to the student with the highest mark and also Kawai Cups (an individual and his/her high school) were given. The late Saburo Kawai, Honorary Chairman of Kyoei Life Insurance Company, initially donated personally, on the basis of which the foundation was established with additional donations from Fujitsu, Inc., Ines, and Kyoei Life Insurance Company. This has eventually led to The Mathematical Olympiad Foundation of Japan, which was accredited by the Ministry of Education in March 1991.

These successful candidates, comprising 20 students, were invited as candidates for the IMO and lodged together for six days at the end of March. Further tests were given during this lodging period. On the basis of the overall achievements, a final selection of six delegates was made at the beginning of April. From April through June telecommunication education was continually provided to maintain and enrich each delegates’ knowledge and skill. As previously mentioned, at the end of July these delegates left Japan for the IMO. From October 1 to November 30, 2000 the applicants for The Japanese Mathematical Olympiad (JMO) were recruited in preparation for the IMO in 2001. Note that the School of Sciences and Engineering of Waseda University announced that the excellent candidates for the JMO are eligible for using their specific entrance examination system, where one is to be evaluated by submitted documents and an oral examination. Obviously, they view these successful candidates as having exceptional potential and thus are willing to secure such students by opening another route of admission.


The similarities and differences between the Theater Olympics and the International Mathematical Olympiad will now be presented.

Regarding similarities, undoubtedly, both are intellectual competitions, and both comprise a series of events (regardless of the fact that their intellectual domains differ). Further, both are periodic events, while the frequency of events is different. Concerning differences, first of all, those who participate with-in the competitions are different in a number of ways. In the case of the Theater Olympics, the delegates are professional performers, usually adults, whereas the delegates of the IMO are high school students. Because of the age differences and area differences, it is natural that the latter has a much more rigid schedule than the former.

Secondly, as far as the prize distinctions, the former is not as distinct in prize categories, such as gold, silver, and bronze medals as well as trophy cups, as is the latter. The evaluation in the former is left to the audience to a great extent, whereas in the latter, a clear evaluation procedure is embedded into the process, although friendship and interaction events were included.

Thirdly, concerning the frequency of these events, the former takes place every three years, while the latter every year. As an outcome, the number of delegates and the scale of events in the former is larger and more flexible, whereas in the latter the number of delegates needs to be fairly limited. In other words, the former requires more design and preparation time, while the latter might require less time in preparing for the event in the following year.

Fourthly, the historical backgrounds of the two competitions are very different. While the former has just

finished the Second Theater Olympics, the IMO will hold its 42nd Olympiad in 2001. Even the JMO will hold the Eleventh Olympiad in 2001. In the JMO, the qualifications of the applicant, contents of the test, the examination fee, the participation applications, and the detailed schedule of selection are very clearly described, whereas in the Theater Olympics, the Charter of the Olympics, to date, the only method for planning and organization (in addition to a thin accumulation of material and experiences).

And fifthly, not in the least, the number of participating countries is markedly different; 20 countries versus 81 countries (1999). This is certainly due, on the one hand, to the frequency of the events, and, on the other, the difference of the year of origination, 1995 versus 1959, 36 years’ difference.

Even allowing for such notable differences, it is believed that increasing such events beyond the national boundary line (either independently or interactively), culture, race, and creed will help convert the culture of war to a culture of peace in years to come.

It seems that more such cases should be collected and analyzed so that we may foresee the future or desirable future direction and contents of the Intellectual Olympics.

Representative References

1. Ishikawa, Akira (1998); “A Framework for The Intellectual Olympics,” The Aoyama Journal of International Politics, Economics and Business, Vol. 42, ( pp. 163-170).
2. Ishikawa, Akira (1999); “Reinventing Evaluation: Judgment Systems and The Intellectual Olympics,” A Keynote Address delivered at the 3rd International Symposium on “A Culture of Peace and the Dialogue of Civilizations for the 3rd Millennium”, Germany, August 2-7.
3. Ishikawa, Akira (2000); “Theater Olympics, A Case of The Intellectual Olympics,” A Keynote Address given at the 12th International Conference on Systems Research, Informatics and Cybernetics, Germany, July 31-August 5.
4. Ishikawa, Akira (2000); “Intellectual Olympics: Harnessing Human Intelligence for Worthwhile Applications,” A Keynote Address presented at Executive World SympoFair 2000, Singapore, September 1-3. The address is included in the Proceedings.
5. Ishikawa, Akira (2000); “Regional Systems and Administrative Management: Issues and Prospects. Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Convention of the Japanese Society of Administrative Management”, A Keynote Address presented at the Annual Convention, Hiroshima City, Japan, September 23.
6. Ishikawa, Akira, “The Prospectus of The Intellectual Olympics,” invited presentation at the Fourth Annual Conference of Knowledge Management Society of Japan, International Hall, Federation of Economic Organizations, Tokyo, Japan, February 13.

Editor’s note: Professor Ishikawa received his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Business Administration of the University of Texas at Austin in 1972, and undertook his postdoctoral studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1973. He was awarded a Cultural Doctorate from the University of the World in 1985, and a Doctor Honoris Causa in recognition of his outstanding accomplishments and distinguished service to mankind f rom the International Institute for A d v a nced Studies in Systems Research and Cybernetics in 1999.

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