Olympic Games History
The Modern Olympic movement stems from a Greek tradition established in 776 BC where citizens from different cities would compete against each other in running races. In 1798 an attempt was made to recreate this in France to envigorate a post revolutionary society, but it wasn't until 1850 that an English Doctor, Dr Brookes in trying to improve the health and fitness of his patients in Much Wenlock in Shropshire, established an annual Olympic competition, which is still held to this day. Dr Brookes model was subsequently copied in Liverpool and eventually in 1865 with friends Hulley and E.G.Ravenstein The British Olympic Association and the International Olympic Charter was born.
The first Games held under the auspices of the IOC were hosted in the Panathenaic stadium in Athens in 1896 with 14 nations competing in 43 events with a total of 241 athletes. Eventually in 1921 in Lausanne the decision was made to incorporate winter sports and the Winter Olympics was born, being held on a two year rotation with The Summer Olympics.
The next most substantial development came after the Second World War when Sir Ludwig Guttman, in a move to rehabilitate soldiers, organized a competition which coincided with the 1948 London Olympics, subsequently the Paralympic Movement was born, which now takes places directly after the main Summer event in the same venue.
From the humble origins of inter village competition, the Olympic movement is now vast, consisting of 26 sports,30 disciplines,300 events, and at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing 10,500 competitors from 204 countries, shown on television throughout the globe, with its own distinctive brand of the five coloured intertwined rings ( representing the five continents) recognized from Tonga to Timbuktu.
The Olympic motto is Citius, Altius, Fortius, a Latin expression translated as "Faster, Higher, Stronger", a representation of the pursuit of physical excellence and there is also an Olympic creed, on which the International Olympic Committee, its members and all those participating are expected to adhere even in these intensely commercial times:-
"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."
Find out more about some of the features of the Olympics: