A History of the Olympics


It's the 2008 Olympics in Beijing today. Today's illustration is the Olympics stamps issued by Australia given by a fellow collector friend, Kai from Australia. When did the Olympics start?

According to legend, the ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles (the Roman Hercules), a son of Zeus. Yet the first Olympic Games for which we still have written records were held in 776 BCE. At this Olympic Games, a naked runner, won the sole event at the Olympics, the stade - a run of approximately 192 meters (210 yards) making him the very first Olympic champion in history.

The ancient Olympic Games grew and continued to be played every four years for nearly 1200 years. In 393 CE, the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences.

It took almost 1,500 before a Frenchmen named Pierre de Coubertin began its revival. He believed that the French lost to the Germans not because of military tactics but because they were weak. So Coubertin decided that it was exercise, more specifically sports, that made a well-rounded and vigorous person. It took him a while to get France interested. In 1890, he organized and founded a sports organization, Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA).

After one failure, four years later, Coubertin organized another meeting. This time with 79 delegates who represented nine countries. He gathered these delegates in an auditorium that was decorated by neoclassical murals and similar additional points of ambiance. At this meeting, Coubertin eloquently spoke of the revival of the Olympic Games. The delegates at the conference voted unanimously for the Olympic Games. The delegates also decided to have Coubertin construct an international committee to organize the Games. This committee became the International Olympic Committee and Demetrious Vikelas from Greece was selected to be its first president. Athens was chosen for the revival of the Olympic Games and the planning was begun.

The very first modern Olympic Games opened in the first week of April 1896. Since the Greek government had been unable to fund construction of a stadium, a wealthy Greek architect, Georgios Averoff, donated one million drachmas (over $100,000) to restore the Panathenaic Stadium, originally built in 330 BCE, with white marble for the Olympic Games.

Since the Games were not well publicized internationally, contestants were not nationally chosen but rather came individually and at their own expense. Some contestants were tourists who happened to be in the area during the Games. Athletes wore their athletic club uniform rather than a national team one.

Since then, the Olympic Games have been held at:
1896 - Athens
1900 - Paris
1904 - St. Louis
1906 - Athens ("Unoffficial")
1908 - London
1912 - Stockholm
1916 - Not held
1920 - Antwerp
1924 - Paris
1928 - Amsterdam
1932 - Los Angeles
1936 - Berlin
1940 - Not held
1944 - Not held
1948 - London
1952 - Helsinki
1956 - Melbourne
1960 - Rome
1964 - Tokyo
1968 - Mexico City
1972 - Munich
1976 - Montreal
1980 - Moscow
1984 - Los Angeles
1988 - Seoul
1992 - Barcelona
1996 - Atlanta
2000 - Sydney
2004 - Athens

Comments

Mohammad said…
Any idea how any times has Brunei Darussalam ever been represented and our national flag carried during march past on official Olympics opening ceremonies, BRo?

Looks like last night's Official Opening Ceremony at the Beijing Olympics '08 was an anti-climax for majority of Bruneians due to our country's exclusion in the Eleventh hour for non-registration.

Whatever happened to the sporting motto: "It's the spirit of participation that counts!"?

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