Olympic Games in Modern Times
The site of the ancient Olympic Games lay
buried until an archaeologist named Richard
Chandler unearthed it in 1766. A French nobleman, Baron
Pierre de Coubertin, became interested in their findings and visited the
site. Coubertin believed that an international sports competition could promote
world peace, and his efforts led to the formation of the International
The first modern Games were held in 1896 in Athens,
Greece. Starting in 1900, women began to compete
in a few sports. Today women medal in almost all
phases of competition.
Since 1896, with only three exceptions, the Games
have been held in cities around the world. The exceptions
have been 1916, 1940, and 1944. No Olympic Games
took place in those years because of World Wars I
and II. There have been some rocky moments in the
history of the Games. At times countries have boycotted
the Games because of opposing political views.
In 1992, it was decided that the Olympic Winter
Games would be held again in 1994 and again
every four years thereafter. The Summer Games would
continue in years divisible by four.
The growth of technology has also touched the Games.
In 1912 the judging of race results was aided by
electrical times. In 1936, the Olympic Games were
broadcast by radio for the first time and broadcast
to televised theaters in Berlin. Televised coverage
began with the 1960 Games in Rome.
In spite of all the changes, the ideals of the Olympic
Games are the same. They are held in the hope of
promoting world peace, understanding, and fair and
friendly athletic competition.
There is a lot more to learn about the modern Olympic
Games! For example, you can:
- Explore the modern Olympic Games year-by-year
on the I.O.C. site.
- Browse historical Olympic photos at the Musarium.
- Tour the Olympic
About the 1896 Athens Games
Among the many traditions of the Olympic Games are the Opening and Closing Ceremonies,
which have their modern roots in ancient times.
In ancient Greece the first day of the Olympic competition opened with judges
in royal purple robes, a heralder, and a trumpeter entering the Hippodrome,
an oval track used for races. The judges took their stands and the competitors
paraded past them. The herald called out each competitor's name, the name of
his father, and his city. Then the herald declared the Games officially open.
More than 2,500 years later, 258 athletes from 13 different countries paraded
into the stadium in Athens, Greece. Along with 70,000 spectators in the stands,
they heard the King of Greece declare the Games of the first modern Olympiad
officially open. The Opening Ceremonies have continued as a grand highlight
of the Games. Athletes from Greece are always given the honor of entering the
stadium first. They are followed in alphabetical order by athletes of the other
countries. The host team's country enters last.
A national leader of the host country welcomes the athletes and declares the
Games officially open. An athlete and one official then recite the Olympic
oath. A flock of dovesthe birds symbolic of peaceare usually released,
and the Olympic flame is lit. The ceremonies usually conclude with an explosion
of breathtaking fireworks.
16 days of intense athletic competition, the Olympic athletes gather together
for a ceremonial goodbye. The spectacular event is the Closing Ceremony of
the Olympic Games. The flag from the country hosting the next Olympic Games
is raised. Finally, the Games are declared officially closed, and the Olympic
flag is lowered. Following this emotional ceremony, there is a variety of entertainment,
and once again the night sky explodes with fireworks.