The Executive Board (EB) of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) manages the affairs of the IOC, and functions by making its recommendations to the IOC Sessions. These recommendations are usually approved by the full IOC Session, thus the Executive Board effectively runs the IOC.
The Executive Board was formed in 1921 and was at that time known as the Executive Committee. Since he had become IOC President in 1896, Pierre, Baron de Coubertin had basically run the IOC as a one-man shop. At the 1921 Olympic Congress Coubertin announced that he was planning a long trip and would be unable to attend to the affairs of the IOC during that time, and that perhaps they should form an Executive Committee to help with the management. This proposal was passed unanimously by the Congress.
Coubertin was initially not considered a member of the Executive Committee. It originally consisted of only five members, with a President, Vice-President, Secretary, and two members-at-large. The first President of the Executive Committee was Godefroy, Baron de Blonay (SUI), who served in 1921-23. Blonay had been the IOC interim President during World War I while Coubertin was in the French military. The other four initial members were J. Sigfrid Edström (SWE), Jiří Guth-Jarkovsky (TCH), Melchior, Marquis de Polignac (FRA), and Henri, Count de Baillet-Latour (BEL).
In 1924, when Baillet-Latour succeeded Coubertin as IOC President, the Executive Committee brought him onto the Committee as a Vice-President, although Blonay still held the title of President. In 1927 the make-up of the Committee changed, with Baillet-Latour assuming his role as President, Blonay as Vice-President, and there were now five members-at-large.
The Executive Board, renamed in 1955, stayed approximately that size until the mid-1960s when Avery Brundage was IOC President. In 1966 the IOC formed two new positions, designating a 1st- and 2nd-Vice-President, and increased the size of the Board to nine members, with six members-at-large. A position of 3rd-Vice-President was added in 1968, but the Board stayed at nine members.
In 1985 the Executive Board again increased in size to 11 members, and in 1989 the position of 4th-Vice-President was added. The Board stayed that size until 2000 when four new positions were added for a total Board size of 15. Those positions were representatives of the NOCs, Summer IFs, Winter IFs, and Athletes, and the Board has remained that size, with those positions, into 2019. In 2008, under President Thomas Bach, the Vice-Presidential numbering was eliminated, and all are now again called simply “Vice-President.”
Executive Board members are elected by the IOC Sessions. The Vice-Presidents and board members are elected for four-year periods by the IOC Session by secret ballot. They may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms on the EB, and then must step down for at least two years, after which a member may be re-elected to the EB. All members of the Executive Board begin their terms of office at the end of the Session which elected them and stay on the EB until the end of the ordinary Session held during the year in which their term expires.
The Executive Board meets just prior to IOC Sessions, and also meets several times per year. Until recently, there were usually four EB meetings each year, spaced about three months apart, although the EB now meets more often, especially with virtual and hybrid meetings. The EB meetings prior to Sessions are held in the host cities for the Session, but most of the other yearly meetings are conducted at the IOC Headquarters in Lausanne. Most EB meetings are well-attended by the international sporting media, with press conferences usually held daily, and the IOC media team releasing multiple daily updates, especially now in the age of social media, on the meetings decisions, announcements, and findings.
The Executive Board is responsible for the general administration of the IOC. It approves the IOC’s organizational chart and all internal regulations relating to its organization; manages the IOC finances and prepares an annual report; reports to the Session on any proposed change of the Olympic Charter; submits to the IOC Session the names of the persons whom it recommends for election to the IOC; conducts the procedure for acceptance and selection of host cities for the Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games; sets the agenda for the IOC Sessions; appoints the Director General; organizes periodic meetings with the IFs and with the NOCs at least once every two years; and performs all other duties assigned to it by the Session.