“Historical Foundation of Physical Education and Sports”

THE OLYMPIC GAMES
776 B.C.

The Olympic Rings (blue, yellow, black, green, red)

The rings were adopted by Baron Pierre de Coubertin (Founder of the Modern Olympic Movement) in 1913 after he saw a similar design on an artifact from Ancient Greece. The five rings represent the five major regions of the world: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. Every national flag in the world includes at least one of the five colors, which are: blue, yellow, black, green, and red. It is important to emphasize that Pierre de Coubertin never said nor wrote that the colors of the rings were linked with the different continents. The Olympic flag made its debut at the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. At the end of each Olympic Games, the mayor of that host-city presents the flag to the mayor of the next host-city. It then rests at the town hall pf the next host-city for four years until the Opening Ceremony of their Olympic Games. The original Olympic Games (Greek: Olympiakoi Agones) began in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece, and were celebrated until 393 AD. In 1896, the ancient Olympic Games were revived at the initiative of a French nobleman. Pierre Fredy, Baron de Coubertin, thus beginning the era of the Modern Olympic Games. The official Olympic Motto is “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, a Latin phrase meaning “Swifter, Higher, Stronger“. Coubertin’s ideals are probably best illustrated by the Olympic Creed: “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.”

and the celebration was spread over several days. The most recent Summer Olympics were the 2004 Games in Athens and the most recent Winter Olympics were the 2006 Games in Turin. The Olympics were of fundamental religious importance. The date of the Games’ inception based on the count of years in Olympiads is reconstructed as 776 BC. the Olympics are consistently gaining supporters. The Olympic Mascot. There are many myths and legends surrounding the origin of the ancient Olympic Games. and the period between two celebrations became known as an “Olympiad”. contests alternating with sacrifices and ceremonies honoring both Zeus (whose colossal statue stood at Olympia). French and English are the two official languages of the Olympic Movement. the Games quickly became much more important throughout ancient Greece. The most famous Olympic athlete lived in this times: the 6th century BC wrestler Milo of Croton is the only athlete in history to win a victory in six Olympics. . in Athens. after completing his 12 labors. Winners of the event were greatly admired and were immortalized in poems and statues. Since the first modern games. According to that legend he walked in a straight line for 400 strides and called his distance a “stadion” (Roman: stadium) (Modern English: stage) that later also became a distance calculation unit. although scholars’ opinions diverge between dates as early as 884 BC and as late as 704 BC. From then on. The upcoming games in Beijing were planned to comprise 302 events in 28 sports. This is also why a modern stadium is 400 meters in circumference length (1 stadium=400 m. divine hero and mythical king of Olympia famous for his legendary chariot race. a Russian bear. The games were held every four years. As of 2006. He built the Olympic stadium and surrounding buildings as an honor to his father Zeus. participation in the Olympic Games has increased to include athletes from nearly all nations worldwide. There it plays an important role in the opening ceremonies. the relay was introduced in 1936. in whose honor the games were held. was introduced in 1968.The Olympic Flame is lit in Olympia and brought to the host-city by runners carrying the torch in relay. The most popular legend describes that Heracles was the creator of the Olympic Games. It has played an important part of the games since 1980 with the debut of misha.). Another myth associate the first games with the ancient Greek concept of (ekecheiria) or Olympic Truce. an animal or human figure representing the cultural heritage of the host country. Greece. With the improvement of satellite communications and global telecast of the events. The Greeks used Olympiads as one of their methods to count years. the Winter Olympics ware completed in 84 events in 7 sports. and Pelops. Through the torch fire has been around since 1928. reaching their zenith in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. The number of events increased to twenty.

The Games gradually declined in importance as the Romans gained power in Greece. an “Olympian” sports festival was begun at Much Wenlock in Shropshire. held from June 16 to June 23. ending a thousand-year tradition. France. the ancient Olympic Games did not include it. not only as the weather was appropriate but also as the festival was meant to be. He thought the reason was that the French had not received proper physical education. Competitors were usually naked. and the present day local Costwolds Games trace their origin to this festival. At the same time. In 1980 he attended a festival of the Wenlock Olympian Society. nor was there a symbol formed by interconnecting rings. England. Even though the bearing of a torch formed an integral aspect of Greek ceremonies. to have the youth of the world compete in sports. in the country of their birth. which also continues to this day as the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games. Upon winning the games. To organize the the Games. The olive branch is a sign of hope and peace. rather than fight in war. an “Olympick Games” sports festival was run for several years at Chipping Campden in English Cotswolds. he presented his ideas to an international audience. but the games were the largest international sports event ever held until that time. In 1850. Later. similar events were organized in France and Greece. On the last day of the congress. the Olympic Games were seen as a pagan festival and in discord with Christian ethics. and in 393 AD the emperor Theodosius I outlawed the Olympics. in part. The total number of athletes at the first Olympic Games. The IOC decided differently. REVIVAL In early 17th century. Pierre de Coubertin was searching for a reason for the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian war (1870-1871). and they even proposed to have the monopoly of organizing the Olympics. less than 250. a celebration of the achievements of the human body. it was decided that the first modern Olympic Games would take place in 1896 in Athens. the victor would have not only prestige of being in first place but would also be presented with a crown of olive leaves. The interest in reviving the Olympics as an international event grew when the ruins of ancient Olympia were uncovered by German archeologists in the mid19th century. in Paris. These Olympic symbols were introduced as part of the modern Olympic Games. and decided that the recovery of the Olympic Games would achieve both of his goals. During the ancient times normally only young men could participate. the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was established. but these were all small-scale and certainly not international. with the Greek Demetrius Vikelas as its first president. The Greek officials and public were also very enthusiastic. Coubertin also sought a way to bring nations closer together. When Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. 1894. and sought to improve this. however. In a congress at the Sorbonne University. seems small by modern standards. and the second Olympic Games .

Paris was also the first Olympic Games where women were allowed to compete. media and spectators makes it difficult and expensive for host cities to organize the Olympics. the Games grew to nearly 11. The Olympics are one of the largest media events. The growth of the Olympics is one of the largest problems the Olympics face today. and an estimated 3.000 broadcasters and journalists. In Sydney in 2000 there were over 16. which has given rise to the explanation that they were intended to mark the 10th anniversary of the modern Olympics.8 billion viewers watched the games on television. The celebrations in Paris (1900) and St. they are currently not recognized by the IOC as Olympic Games. thereby marking the beginning of a rise in popularity and size of the Games. Although originally the IOC recognized and supported these games. The 1906 Games again attracted a broad international field of participants-in 1904. Modern Olympics After the initial success. The so-called Intercalated Games (because of their offyear status. Although allowing professional athletes and attracting sponsorship from major international companies solved financial problems in the 1980’s.took place in Paris. 80% had been American-and great public interest. at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin Italy. 2. From the 241 participants from 14 nations in 1896. France. as 1906 is not divisible by four) were held in 1906 in Athens. the Olympics struggled. as the first of an alternating series of Athens-held Olympics.100 competitors from 202 countries at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. Louis (1904) were overshadowed by the world’s fair exhibitions in which they were included. The number of competitors at the Winter Olympics is much smaller than at the Summer Games. the large number of athletes. .633 athletes from 80 countries competed in 84 events.

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