A History of the Olympic Games
The Olympic Games started thousands of years ago in Greece. No one knows exactly when the first games were held, but they were very different from the modern Olympic Games that you might watch on television. The Greek people thought that physical fitness was very important. The games were a way to celebrate discipline and strength, which they thought was important.
The athletes who competed in the ancient Olympic Games were all men, and only one event made up the entire games. The first recorded Olympic Games occurred in 776 B.C., but other tournaments were probably held before then. The Greeks held the Olympic Games in a religious sanctuary in Olympia. They held the games in this place because they wanted to honor Zeus, the king of the Greek gods. The single event was a 630-foot race, and an athlete named Coroebus won. This race was the only event for the first 13 games.
New events were eventually added to the Olympic Games. Some of these early events included the hoplitodromos, which actually involved athletes running in a race while wearing a full suit of armor. In 708 B.C., the Greeks added the pentathlon, which involved athletes running, jumping, throwing a javelin, wrestling, and throwing a discus. In 648 B.C., the pankration was added to the games. This event was a combination of boxing and wrestling that continued until one man gave up or was knocked unconscious. The Greeks gradually added buildings to the Olympic complex in Olympia. The hippodrome was the arena where runs and chariot races occurred. In the palaestra, athletes boxed and wrestled. A separate building was made to house the athletes during the games.
Athens, Greece, was the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games in 1896. Athletes from 14 different countries participated in these games. The first Olympic Games had 43 different events, and 241 athletes participated. This was the first time the official Olympic anthem was played at the games. Both opening and closing ceremonies were also a part of this event.
The first winter Olympic Games were in 1924 in Chamonix, France. A bobsled race and ski jumping were two of the events that crowds came to watch. St. Moritz, Switzerland was the location of the second winter Olympic Games. These games were attended by 464 athletes, and they participated in 14 different events.
In 1948, a special event was created during the London Olympics to give World War II veterans with spinal cord injuries an opportunity to participate. Gradually, these competitions grew, adding more sports and more countries participating, and a number of disability groups were added to the events, not just people in wheelchairs. These events came to be known as the Paralympics.
The modern Olympic Games involve both the Summer and Winter Games. Each event is held every four years, but they alternate so that there is an Olympics, either summer or winter, every two years. Summer games involve competitions on grass, in water, on tracks, and other places outdoors. A total of 41 different types of events make up these games. The winter games involve 15 different types of events on ice and snow. Athletes participate in these sports in both outdoor and indoor areas.
The First Games
The 1896 Games