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Olympic Games History


                                   

   

The origin of the ancient Olympic Games is lost in the midst of pre-history, but for many centuries they were only a festival of the Greek people. The Games were fest held in honour of the Greek god, Zeus in 776 BC in the plain of the kingdom of Elis, nestled in a lush valley between the Alpheus River and Mount Kronion, 15 km from the lonian Sea. The Olympiad celebrated that year was considered as the first and was used to date subsequent historic events. But religious ceremonies and games were held in Olympia before that time. The oldest sanctuary of Greece was there, the alter of the Great Mother of Gods, Rhea (Earth). On the day of the feast, the priest stood in front of the altar, ready to perform a sacrifice. Women were forbidden to be present on one stadium (about 200 yds.) As soon as a signal was given they ran and the first to arrive at the altar received the torch from the priest's hand and lit the sacrifice fire.

The old Olympiads were held after every four years and the Greeks measured time in terms of Games started on the first new moon after the summer solstice, around mid July. The ancient Olympic Games lasted for five days and the events took place in a precise order. On the first day, there were sacrifices and opening ceremonies. On the second day there were special competitions for the 'ephebians'. The third day was devoted to events for adult competitors: dromos, diaulos, dolichos, pugilism, wrestling, race with arms.

The games came to a sudden end when the Rome Emperor Theodosius banned the competitions and their attendant sacrificial offerings as pagan manifestations. From 395 AD onwards the fall of Olympia was very rapid. In that year the first damage was caused by the invasion of Alaric's barbarians. A year earlier the famous crysele-phantide statue of Zeus had been taken to Constantinople. It was destroyed in 475 AD during the great fire. Following the attacks on the Goths, a fire destroyed the temple of Zeus; earthquakes from 522 to 551 and the most severe of all in 580 brought down whatever had remained standing. Glory had vanished and of the vast riches there were now left but a few ruins and the name of Olympia. Something immortal remained, however, and that was the Olympic spirit.

Olympic logo Modern Olympic Games : The revival work of the Games was undertaken by Baron Pierre de Coubertin nearly 1,500 years after the last of the ancient Games. He was born into a family of Italian origin which had settled in France. It was on November 25, 1892, during a conference at Sorbonne about the history of physical exercises, that the first pronounced those famous six words in public "The Restoration of the Olympic Games" He said that the Games would ennoble and strengthen amateur sports to give them strength and lasting quality for an essential role in the world of modern education.

It was at the International Congress for the Study of the Propagation f the Principles of Amateurism held in Paris in June 1894 that the delegates led by Baron Pierre de Coubertin and associates unanimously voted to restore the Olympic Games and to create an International Olympic Committee to oversee them De Coubertin had planned to propose Paris for the site of the first modern Olympics in 900 but the enthusiasm and zeal of the delegates was so great that they insisted the first Games to be held in 1896 Games. Since then these Games are held every four years.

Olympic Symbol : It comprises five rings or circles, linked together to represent the sporting friendship of all people. The rings also symbolise the continents- Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and America. Each ring is of a different colour i.e. blue, yellow, black, green and red. The rings are meant to represent five continents viz., Africa (black), America (red), Asia (yellow), Australia (green) and Europe (Blue).

Olympic Flag: The Olympic flag, created in 1913 at the suggestion of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was solemnly inaugurated in Paris in June 1914 but it was raised over an Olympic stadium for the first time at the Antwerp used for the Winter Games. These flags are made of white silk and contain above mentioned five interwined rings. From left to right the rings are blue, yellow, black, green and red.

Olympic Flame(Torch): It was at the Amsterdam Games in 1928 that for the first time an Olympic flame was ceremonially lighted and burned in a giant torch at the entrance of the stadium. The modern version of the flame was adopted in 1936 at the Berlin Games. The Olympic flame symbolises the continuity between the ancient and modern games. The torch, used to kindle the flame, is first lit by the sun's rays at Olympia, Greece, and then carried to the site of the Games by relay of runners. Ships and planes are used when necessary. On July 15, 1976, space age technology was used to transport the flame from one continent to another.

Olympic Motto: The Olympic motto is "Citius-Altius-Fortius" (faster, higher, stronger). Rev. Father Didon (1840-1900), headmaster of a school near Paris and a great promoter of sports in the French Catholic colleges first used the motto and had it embroidered on the pennants of his school clubs. This succinct definition of the philosophy of sport appealed to father Didon's friend, Baron Pierre de Coubertin who was responsible for the revival of the Olympic Games nearly 1,500 years after the last of the ancient Games. It was adopted at his suggestion at the International congress for the "Study and Propagation of the Principles of Amateurism" on June 23, 1894, the same day on which the restoration of the Olympic Games and the creation of the International Olympic Committee were also decided.

Olympic Prizes, Medals and Certificates: While in ancient times the Olympic heroes received a crown of olive branches for their exploits, modern Olympics Champions are rewarded with medals and certificates. The winning athlete now receives a Gold medal, the athlete in the second place is awarded a silver medal and the third placed athlete in the second place is awarded a Silver medal and the third placed athlete wins a Bronze medal. In addition, all athletes ranking from first to sixth receive a certificate. Each medal is 60 mm in diameter and 3 mm thick. The first and second place medals are made of 92.5 percent silver and the medals for the first winner is then plated with 6 gram of fine gold. Thus this medal is not full gold. The third place medal is of bronze.

Olympic Mascot: It was introduced in 1972 at the 20th Olympics Games held at Munich and since then an Olympic Mascot is selected for a particular year and venue. The following have been the Mascot so far :-

Year Mascot Venue
1972 Waldi (Dachshund) Munich
1976 Amik (Beaver) Montreal
1980 Misha (Bear) Mascow
1984 Sam (Eagle) Los Angeles
1988 Hodori (Cub Tiger) Seoul
1992 Cobi (Spain) Barcelona
1996 Lzzy (Space Creature) Altanta
2000 Ollie, Syd and Mille (a bird, a platypuss,
and a hedge hog)
Sydney
2004 Phevos and Athena (Two brother & sister
inspired by Greek dolls)
Athens
2008 The Fuwa consisting of five figures:
Beibei, Jing Jing, Huan Huan, Yingying and Nini
Beijing
2012 Wenlock and Mandeville, animations depicting two drops of steel from a steelworks in Bolton London

Olympic Order Instituted in 1974, the Olympic Order in a gold, silver or bronze decoration, awarded to a person who has rendered outstanding services or displayed the Olympic ideals.
Mrs Indira Gandhi was awarded this Order in 1983 by the IOC for her contribution to the organisation of the New Delhi Asiad (1982.)

The Olympic Cup: Olympic Cup Instituted in 1906 by Coubertin. Its reproduction is awarded to an institution which contributes to the development of sports in general and the Olympic cup remains at the Chateau de vivy in France.

Sir Thomas Fearnley: Cup is awarded to a club or a local sport association for remarkable achievement in the service of the Olympics. It was instituted in 1950 by Sir Thomas Fearnley, a former IOC member.

Mohammed Toher Trophy: Awarded to an amateur athlete, not necessarily an Olympian. It was instituted in 1950 by the former IOC member Mohammed Toher.

Count Alberta Banacossa Trophy: Awarded to a national Olympic Committee for outstanding work. It was instituted in 1954 by the Italian National Olympic Committee in honour of its IOC member Count Alberto Bonacossa.

Tokyo Trophy: It is given for exemplary conduct displayed by an athelete during the Games. It was instituted in 1964 and presented by Tokyo City.

Introduction of Events in the Olympics
Events Year
Archery 1900 at Paris (but not held from 1924-1968)
Athletics 1896 at Athens
Badminton 1992 at Barcelona
Basketball 1904 and 1928 - a demostration event
1936 at Berlin as a medal event
Boxing 1904 at St Louis
Canoeing 1936 at Berlin (for men)
1948 at London (for women)
Cycling 1896 at Athens (but not held in 1904)
Equestrian 1900 at Paris (but not held in 1904 and 1908)
Fencing 1896 at Athens (for men)
1924 at Paris (for women)
Football 1900 at Paris (but not held in 1932)
Gymnastics 1896 at Athens
Handball 1936 at Berlin as outdoor handball
1952 at Helsinki as demostration games
1972 at Munich as a medal event
Hockey 1908 at London (but not held in 1912 and 1924) for men
1980 at Moscow for women
Judo 1964 at Tokyo (but not held in 1968)
Modern Pentathlon 1912 at Stockholm as individual competition
1952 at Helsinki as team event
Rowing 1896 at Athens
1976 at Montreal for women
Shooting 1896 at Athens (but not held in 1904 and 1928)
Swimming 1896 at Athens for men
1908 at London, diving for men
1912 at Stockholm, swimming and diving for women
1900 at Paris (waterpolo)
Tennis 1924 at Paris (but not held later)
1988 at Seoul (returned as medal event)
Table Tennis 1988 at Seoul
Vollyball 1964 at Tokyo for men and women
Weightlifting 1896 at Athens
Wrestling 1896 at Athens (Greco-Roman)
1904 at St Louis (Free style)
Yachting 1900 at Paris


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