History of the Olympic Games
The modern Olympic Games were first held in 1896. The idea for the Olympics began in 776 B.C., when a cook named Coroebus won the only event of the games, a footrace called the “stade,” and became immortalized as an Olympic champion.
The Greek tradition of holding athletic competitions between cities brought about the idea of organizing such sporting events on a larger international level within Greece itself. In 1859, Dr. William Penny Brookes founded the National Olympian Association in England which took advantage of Britain’s position at the forefront of technical development to promote competitive sports along with other cultural activities known as national physical education.
In his article “Olympic Sports” published in 1860, Brookes urged schools acrossthe country to adopt the “Olympic Games” as part of their physical education programs. He also proposed that an international competition be held every four years at Athens in order to stimulate interest for the revival of the Olympic Games within Greece itself.
The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece between April 6 and April 15, 1896. They were funded entirely by contributions from Greek citizens along with money earned through ticket sales which amounted to over $590,000 (in American dollars). The Greek government offered no financial support or recognition to the IOC until 1982 when they decided it would be financially advantageous (and politically expedient) to participate officially. The 1984 games took place in Los Angeles while the 1988 games occurred in Seoul, South Korea.The idea of the Olympic flame is said to be based on ancient Greek mythology. It was first introduced at the 1928 games in Amsterdam by Jules Ladoumegue, the chairman of the French committee for the games. The torch relay began at Olympia where a flame was lit that represents Zeus’s sacred fire which would be taken all over Greece before arriving at Athens to light a beacon that would reach out to every city in Greece. The lighting of this eternal flame has become an integral part of each modern Olympic opening ceremonies ever since despite being absent from 1956 through 1964 when it took place during individual medal awards instead.
The Olympic flag, featuring five interlocking rings on a white background with each ring alternating in either blue, yellow, black, green, or red is another symbol of the modern Olympic Games. The five rings represent the five parts of the world which are united by Olympism and its values.
The first Olympic marathon took place in 1896, inspired by Greek runner Spyros Louis who had taken part in a similar event at Athens on March 10th yet found himself unsupported financially after crossing the finish line so he could not afford to travel home to participate in the 1894 Olympics. His victory at the marathon of 1896 enabled him to do just that as well as helping him win European fame with his powerful spirit of endurance.
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The 1904 summer games were held in St Louis, Missouri due to Greece’s inability to fund them along with criticism from some IOC members about their lackof readiness. The games marked the first time that gold, silver, and bronze medals were awarded for first, second, and third place finishes respectively.
The so-called “tradition of excellence” at the Olympic Games was born in 1904 when American athletes clinched nine out of twelve gold medals. It was also during the 1904 Olympics that the decathlon was introduced as a men’s event while women competed in their own version of this contest for the first time.
The 1908 summer games saw the birth of opening ceremonies which have continued ever since along with torch relay by runners who light torches on their way to light an Olympic cauldron at the end of their sprints.