We love to watch the graceful athletes at the Olympics. Read this brief history about the origin of the international event.
The Olympic Games have a long history. The first recorded Olympic Games took place in 776 B.C. though their origin may date back even earlier. Originally they began as a competition between the different Greek States and the early Olympiads had only one event – a simple race covering a distance of about 200 metres. Other sports like boxing, chariot racing and pentathlon were added over a period of time.
Around 100 B.C. Greece was conquered by Rome. The Games lost their glamour under the Romans who did not encourage them and in A.D. 394 the Roman Emperor ended the Olympic Games because of the decline in the quality of the spectacle. No Olympic Games were held for the next 1500 years.
The credit for beginning the modern Olympic Games goes to a Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He had discovered the ruins of the stadium at Olympia in Greece where the ancient games used to be held. This find gave him the idea of the Modern Olympics. In 1894, he presented his idea at an international meeting on amateur sports and the group voted to organize the games.
The International Olympic Committee was set up and the first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens in 1896. Encouraged by the success of these Games, de Coubertin felt that the Olympics should be held in a different place each year. Since then, the Olympic Games have been celebrated every four years except in 1916, when they were cancelled because of World War I and in 1940 and 1944, when the Second World War caused them to be cancelled.
The Olympics celebrate man’s physical prowess and have come a long way since they first began. From a total of 311 athletes in 1896, today the Olympic Games have over 10,000 sportspersons participating from more than 200 countries.