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The history of the Olympic Games

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The Olympic Games began in Greece around 3000 years ago. It got revived in the late 19th century and since then has emerged as one of the world’s most popular competitions. Earlier Olympic games were held every four years in Olympia, situated in the western Peloponnese peninsula.

Athens was the first place to host the first Olympics in 1896. The event had 280 participants, 43 games, and participants from across 13 countries. However, since 1994 the Summer and Winter Olympics were held separately and alternately after every two years.  

In the ancient Olympics, the Greeks offered salutation to their gods through the games. In the modern Olympics, it gets organized to salute to the citizens and talents of all the nations.

The ancient Olympics featured competition in music, oratory, and theatrical performances. The modern Olympics have expanded since then and includes a gamut of games.


The Olympics in Ancient Greece

The first written records suggest that the first Olympic games got conducted in 776 B.C. However, many historians believe that the games started much before that. A cook named Coroebus was the first Olympic winner of the only event of 192-meter foot race featured. But as mentioned earlier, it is believed that the games were conducted much before that. The legend goes that the son of Zeus, Hercules and mortal woman Alcmene were the founders of the games. During the end of the 6th century B.C, the games had begun to become an integral part of Greek festivals. 

After 13 Olympiads, two more events were included-the diaulos (400-meter race) and dolichos (1,500-5000 meter event). In 708 B.C., the pentathlon (consisting of five types of race: a foot race, a long jump, discus and javelin throws, and a wrestling match) got added. Boxing and chariot racing were added in 688 B.C. and 680 B.C., respectively. In 648 B.C. known as pankration, a mix of wrestling and boxing with no rules was introduced. In the ancient Olympics, no females were allowed to participate. There was also a prohibition on women attending the event.

The revival of the Olympic tradition

The Olympic tradition underwent a lean phase when the Roman Empire conquered Greece in the middle of the second century B.C. In A.D. 67, the depraved Emperor Nero entered the Olympic chariot race and disgracefully declared him the winner despite falling off the chariot. In A.D. 393, a Christian Emperor named Theodosius 1, called for a ban on all “pagan” festivals, putting a hiatus to the Olympic tradition.

The games got resurrected after 1,500 years due to the efforts of Baron Pierre de Coubertin of France. Baron, who wanted to introduce physical education, saw the Olympics as a platform that will further his desire. In November 1896, Baron received approval for forming the International Olympic Committee. It later became the governing body of the modern Olympic Games.

The Modern Olympics

With the revival of the Olympics in 1896, the first modern Olympic was held that year in Athens. In the early modern Olympic, King Georgios 1, along with 60,000 spectators, welcomed 280 male participants from 13 countries. It consisted of 43 events that include gymnastics, swimming, wrestling, cycling, tennis, weightlifting, shooting, and fencing. No Olympics got conducted during the first world war (1916) and the second world war (1940-1945). The current official symbol of modern games is five interlocking colored rings. It represents the continents – North and South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Australia. The Olympic flag that consists of this symbol got waved for the first time at Antwerp Games in 1920. 

Olympic emerged as a significant sporting event post-1924. VIII games got held in Paris during that period. More than 3000 athletes from 44 nations participated in the event, and for the time, women too took part in it. The Games also, for the first time, had an opening ceremony. The Winter Olympics got introduced that year that included events like skating, ice hockey, bobsledding, and biathlon. In 2004, after 80 years, the summer Olympics returned to Athens. More than 11,000 athletes from across 201 countries participated in it.


The Olympics bring people from different nationalities together. As mentioned earlier, every four years, it is celebrated. The Summer and Winter Olympics occur alternately every four years but two years apart. It is an excellent platform for different athletes having diverse sporting prowess’s to showcase their talent internationally. In the upcoming Olympic 2020, starting in Tokyo from 24th July to 9th August, five new games got inducted that include baseball/softball, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing. We have to wait and see how things unfold in the Olympic 2020 and which are the countries that will add new medals to their tally.

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