The history of the Olympic Games

Sat 31 July 2021 | 15:00

As one of the most ancient international sport events, the Olympic Games have a long history behind, which could be very interesting to know about. In the following article we will review the history of the Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games, international sports events, are held every four years, and thousands of athletes from around the world participate in a variety of competitions. These games began in ancient Greece and were staged every fourth year for several hundred years until the evolution of the Olympic Movement during the 20th and 21st centuries.

From the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D, the Games took place in the western Peloponnese peninsula in honor of the god Zeus. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1984, leading to the first modern Olympics.

The first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896, featuring 280 participants from 12 nations. The Olympic Movement has resulted in a number of changes to the Games, including the Paralympic Games for athletes with disabilities, the creation of the Winter Olympic Games for snow and ice sports, the Youth Olympic Games for athletes aged 14 to 18, the World Games for sports that are not contested in the Olympic Games, and the five Continental games (African, Pan American, European, Asian, and Pacific). Today, every nation is represented in these Games, and numerous challenges and controversies have been created. Join us in the following article to review

Olympic history

Everything you need to know about Olympic history

Through the following article, we will review the history of the Olympic Games, from ancient Olympics to modern games. Without more ado, let's begin the article.

Ancient Olympics

In the first part of Sportmob's article on

the history of the Olympic Games

, we will review ancient Olympics. The Ancient Olympic Games were held every four years at the sanctuary of Zeus in Olympia, on the highly civilized eastern coast of the Peloponnesian peninsula; in fact, these Games were religious. Paul Christesen, professor of Ancient Greek History at Dartmouth College, USA, explained a unique insight into Olympia. "At its heart the Ancient Olympic Games was a religious festival held in a religious sanctuary."

The kingdoms of Ancient Greece and representatives of several city-states competed with each other. A festival was held during the midsummer of 776 B.C and took place during the pre-Christian golden age of Greece.

According to the earliest records, during the contests, all wars would cease, and only one athletic event was held in the ancient Olympics. Mystery and legend shroud the origin of the Olympics.

Heracles and his father Zeus are one of the most popular myths, and some legends say first Heracles is called the Games "Olympic," establishing the custom of holding them every four years. Then Heracles completed his twelve labors, and the myth continues that he built the Olympic Stadium as an honor to Zeus; after that, Heracles walked in a straight line for 200 steps and he called it a stadion (Latin: stadium). Christesen explained: "We know that they actually planted the stadium with wheat. It was a big empty space that wasn’t being used most of the time, so except in the run-up to the Games, when they got it all cleaned up, it was just a wheat field."

The Ancient Olympics' accepted inception date is 776 BC, based on inscriptions, listing the winners of a footrace held every four years starting in 776 BC. The Ancient Games consisted of running events, wrestling, pankration, pentathlon (discus and javelin throws, jumping event, a foot race, wrestling), boxing, and equestrian events.

The basis of the Olympic Games was religion and alongside sports events, featured ritual sacrifices honoring both Zeus and divine hero and mythical king of Olympia, Pelops. The ancient Games were held every four years, known as an Olympiad Greeks used the Games as one of their units of time measurement.

In the 6th and 5th centuries BC, the Games reached the height of their success. Then its importance decreased gradually as the Romans gained power and influence in Greece. According to the legends, the date that the Games officially ended is 393 AD.

"The Greeks were aggressively polytheistic. So while Olympia is a sanctuary to Zeus we know that he wasn’t the only deity worshipped at the site. There were over 70 different altars, you could sacrifice to pretty much anyone you wanted to. Anyone who wanted to get a big audience from all over the Greek world showed up in Olympia. Painters, artists, orators all went there to put their wares on display," Christesen said.

Modern Olympic Games

In this part of our article on the history of the Olympic Games, we will review

modern Olympic Games



The term Olympic has been documented since the 17th century. Cotswold Olimpick Games was the first such event, an annual meeting near Chipping Campden, England, and the competition involved various sports. From 1612 to 1642, Robert Dover, the lawyer, first organized the Cotswold Olimpick Games with several later celebrations leading up to the present day. In the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, the British Olympic Association mentioned these games as "the first stirrings of Britain's Olympic beginnings." 

From 1796 to 1798, a national Olympic festival, L'Olympiade de la Republique, was held in Revolutionary France. This event consisted of several disciplines from the ancient Greek Olympics. Olympic games were held in Ramlosa in 1834 and 1836, and Gustaf Johan Schartau organized an additional in Sweden in 1843.

Seven years later, William Penny Brookes began Olympian Class at Much Wenlock, in Shropshire, and in 1859 the name was changed by Brookes to the Wenlock Olympian Games. He also founded the Wenlock Olympian Society on 15 November 1860.

John Hulley and Charles organized Liverpool an annual Grand Olympic Festival between 1862 and 1867. In these games, only gentlemen amateurs competed, and actually, the games were amateur. The first modern Olympiad's program, which was held in Athens in 1896, became nearly the same as that of the Liverpool Olympics. National Olympian Association was founded in 1865 by Hulley, E.G. Ravenstein, and Brookes in Liverpool. Stay tuned to read more about the history of the Olympic Games.


With the beginning of the Greek War of Independence in 1821 from the Ottoman Empire, Greek wanted to revive the Olympic Games. Panagiotis Soutsos, the newspaper editor, proposed it in his poem "Dialogue of the Dead." In 1856, a wealthy Greek-Romanian philanthropist, Evangelos Zappas, offered to King Otto of Greece to fund a permanent revival of the Olympic Games. In 1859 the first Olympic Games were sponsored by Zappas, and these games were held in an Athens city square.

Also, the ancient Panathenaic Stadium was funded by Zappas, and the stadium hosted Olympic Games in 1870 and 1875. Although there are no official attendance records for the 1875 Olympic Games, 30000 spectators attended that Olympic Games in 1870. The Olympian Games of the Wenlock Olympian Society was attended in 1890, and Baron Pierre de Coubertin was interested in founding the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The ideas were built by Coubertin, Brookes, and Zappas for establishing the Olympic Games that would occur every four years. The first Olympic Congress of the newly created International Olympic Committee was held from 16 to 23 June 1894 at the University of Paris, and in that congress, Coubertin presented these ideas. In 1896, the first Olympic Games to come under the auspices of the IOC took place in Athens. Demetrius Vikelas, the Greek writer, became the IOC's first president.

1896 Games

In 1896, the first was held in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, under the auspices of the IOC. Fourteen nations and 241 athletes were brought together, and they competed in 43 events. Evangelis Zappas and his cousin, Konstantinos Zappas, with the help of George Averoff, funded the 1896 Athens Games. The Greek government had requested Averoff to sponsor the second refurbishment of the Panathenaic Stadium.

"With deep feeling towards Baron de Coubertin's courteous petition, I send him and the members of the Congress, with my sincere thanks, my best wishes for the revival of the Olympic Games," wrote King George of Greece on 21 June 1894. Due to the excellent holding of the 1896 Athens Games, many athletes demanded that Athens be the permanent Olympic host city. But the IOC wanted the Games to be rotated to various host cities around the world. Therefore, Paris was the second Olympic Games host.

Changes in the Olympic Games

The 1896 Athens Games were a successful experience, but the 1900 Paris Games, and the 1904 St. Louis, Missouri Games, failed to attract much notice. In the 1904 Olympic Games, 650 athletes participated, that 580 were American. It is interesting to know that the marathon's winner was later disqualified due to his photo, which was riding in a car during the race.

The Olympic Games returned with the 1906 Intercalated Games, and they were held in Athens. Many athletes were interested in these Games, which were the cause of the beginning of rising both the popularity and the size of the Olympics.

Winter Games

Featuring ice and snow sports, IOC created the Winter Olympics, which were logistically impossible to hold during the Summer Games. The IOC decided to include other winter activities. The decision to hold Winter Olympics was made at the 1921 Olympic Congress in Lausanne. In 1924 in Chamonix, a winter sports week was held, becoming the first Winter Olympic Games. These Games included five Winter Olympic sports such as bobsleigh, ice hockey curling, Nordic skiing (consisting of ski jumping, cross-country skiing, the disciplines military patrol, and Nordic combined), and skating (figure skating and speed skating). From 1924 to 1936, the Games were held every four years and in the same year with the Summer Olympic Games.

But in 1986, ICO decided to place the Summer Olympic Games and the Winter Olympic Games on separate four-year, so the next Winter Olympic Games after 1992 were held in 1994. Sports and disciplines such as freestyle skiing, luge, Alpine skiing, short track speed skating, skeleton, and snowboarding have been added to the Winter Olympic Games.


In 1948, Sir Ludwig Guttmann organized a multi-sport event to promote the rehabilitation of soldiers after World War II, and the event was held between several hospitals. These events, a multi-sport competition for athletes with a disability, were known as the World Wheelchair and Amputee Games, became an annual sports festival.

In 1960 four hundred athletes were brought to Rome to compete in the Parallel Olympics. Since then, the event has been held in every Olympic year, and in 1988 summer Olympic Games Paralympics started in Seoul. In 2001 the IOC and IPC (the International Paralympic Committee) reached an agreement that host cities would be contracted to manage both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The IOC stated: "The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practising sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play. Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement."

Stay tuned to read more about the history of the Olympic Games.

The Symbol of Olympic Games

The Olympic Symbol, which consists of five intertwined rings, means the unity of the five continents (Africa, Asia, The Americas, Europe, and Oceania). The color of rings (green, blue, black, yellow, green, and red) were chosen because every nation had at least one of them on its national flag.

In 1894 Pierre de Coubertin proposed the Olympic motto, Citius, Altius, Fortius, which means "Faster, Higher, Stronger," and since 1924 has been official.

Coubertin's Olympic ideals are: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."

The Olympic Flame is lit months before each game at the Temple of Hera in Olympia in a ceremony that reflects ancient Greek rituals.

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

In 1896 241 participants from 14 nations were represented in the Games, but the Summer Olympics have grown to approximately 11.326 athletes representing 205 nations in

Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

. In September 2013, during the 125th IOC Session in Argentina, Tokyo was appointed as the host city.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was postponed to 2021, the first such instance in the history of the Olympic Games. These events are being held with no public spectators due to the declaration of a state of emergency. The 2020 Olympics are the fourth Olympic Games to be held in Japan after the Tokyo 1964 (Summer), Sapporo 1972 (Winter), and Nagano 1998 (Winter) games.

After the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang and preceding the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Tokyo 2020 Olympics are the second of three consecutive Olympics.

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