When were the first Olympic Games? The first known Olympic Games was recorded in around 776 BC in Olympia, Greece. They were celebrated until 396 AD. The Games were part of a religious festival. The Greek Olympics, thought to have begun in 776 BC, inspired the modern Olympic Games (begun in 1896) The Games were held in honour of Zeus, king of the gods, and were staged every four years at Olympia, a valley near a city called Elis. People from all over the Greek world came to watch and take part.
The statue of Zeus Visitors to Olympia stared in wonder as they entered the great Temple of Zeus. Inside was a huge statue of the king of the gods, sitting on a throne. People called it one of the Seven Wonders of the World. The statue was covered in gold and ivory, and was six times bigger than a man. It was built about 435 BC, and no one who made the trip to Olympia missed seeing it. You can read what the writer Pausanias wrote about it in the Writings section.
What was the Sacred Truce? The city-states of Greece were often at war. This made travel between them dangerous. So messengers sent out from Elis announced a 'sacred truce' (peace) lasting one month before the Games began. This meant people could travel to Olympia in safety. The Olympic Games were more important than wars because they were a religious festival. The messengers went all over the Greek world, as the map shows.
Events at the Games At the first one-day Olympic Games, the only event was a short sprint from one end of the stadium to the other. Gradually more events were added to make four days of competitions. They included wrestling, boxing, long jump, throwing the javelin and discus, and chariot racing. In the pentathlon, there were five events: running, wrestling, javelin, discus and long jump. One of the toughest events was the race for hoplites, men wearing armour and carrying shields. Winners were given a wreath of leaves, and a hero's welcome back home. Winners might marry rich women, enjoy free meals, invitations to parties, and the best seats in the theatre. The running track was much wider than a modern one. Twenty people could run at once.
The nastiest event? Probably the pankration or all-in wrestling was the nastiest event. There were hardly any rules. Biting and poking people's eyes were officially banned, but some competitors did both! While it does not seem very sporting to us, all-in wrestling was very popular. Boxing was tough too. The fighters wore leather gloves and a boxer was allowed to go on hitting his opponent even after he'd knocked him to the ground! However, cheating was punished. Anyone caught cheating, trying to bribe an athlete for instance, had to pay for a bronze statue of Zeus, as a punishment.
Women at Olympia Only men, boys and unmarried girls were allowed to attend the Olympic Games. Married women were not allowed into the Olympic Games. Any women caught sneaking in were punished! Women could own horses in the chariot race though. Unmarried women had their own festival at Olympia every four years. This was the Heraia, held in honour of Hera, wife of Zeus. Women could compete in running races, though only unmarried girls took part. Winners were awarded crowns of sacred olive branches, the same as men. As a rule Greek women did not go in for sport, unless they were Spartans.
What events took place in the Ancient Olympic Games? The Ancient Olympic Games consisted of only one race, the "stade" race, which was the length of the stadium and between 180 and 240 metres long (we don't know for sure). Over the years more running races and other events were added, including boxing, wrestling, chariot racing, long jump, javelin and discus throwing.
Who took part in the Ancient Olympic Games? Only young men could take part. They had to be free men, and speak Greek. They usually competed nude, and the prize was a crown of olive leaves (a sign of hope and peace).
Who revived the idea of the Olympic Games? A French nobleman, Pierre Fredy, the Baron de Coubertin, born in 1863. When he was young, Coubertin was a very keen sportsman. As he grew older he developed a passionate belief that sport could encourage peace throughout the world and bring people from all over the world together. Coubertin was inspired by the ancient Olympic Games and travelled around the world, spending his own money, trying to persuade people to revive them. Eventually he managed to bring together representatives of many different countries in Paris, in 1894, and the Olympic Movement was begun.
When and where were the first modern Olympic Games held? The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.
Who supervises the Olympic Games? When Baron de Coubertin founded the Olympic Movement he established the International Olympic Committee (the IOC) to supervise it, in 1894. He himself served as its president for 29 years, and there have been 8 presidents since then. There were originally 14 members but the Committee has now grown to over 130 members, all of whom must speak either French or English. Existing members elect new members as required. The IOC is based in Lausanne, Switzerland.
What is the aim of the Olympic Movement? The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play."
What is an Olympiad? An Olympiad is the period of four years which starts with a summer Olympic Games. Each Olympiad is counted with Roman numerals, and the year of the Games cannot be changed (although Games have been skipped out, as in 1916 during the First World War).
Who chooses the next host for the Olympic Games, and how? Members of the IOC choose the next venue for the Olympic Games, which must be a city rather than a country. So, for example, the next Olympics, in 2012, will be hosted by London, rather than England. Any city which wishes to host the Games put their bid to the IOC. Only one city from each country can bid, and even putting forward a bid takes a huge amount of work and is very expensive.
Who selects each country's team of athletes? Each country has their own National Olympic Committee (NOC). The NOCs represent their countries at the Olympic Games and select their own national teams.
What is the Olympic torch? Prior to each Games, the Olympic Torch or Flame is lit in Olympia, Greece and brought to the host city by runners carrying the torch in relay.
What is 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."
Who wins medals? The athletes or teams who come first, second and third win medals: respectively gold, silver and bronze.
Are the gold medals real gold? No! They were solid gold until 1912, but are now silver covered with a thin layer of gold.
Why do we have the Olympic rings as The emblem of the Olympic Games? The five interlocking rings (blue, yellow, black, green, and red respectively) of the emblem was originally designed in 1913 by Pierre de Coubertin, to symbolize the five continents of the world taking part in the Olympic Games (the Americas are viewed as a single continent, and Antarctica is omitted).
What is the Olympic motto? In 1921, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, borrowed a Latin phrase from his friend, Father Henri Didon, for the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius ("Swifter, Higher, Stronger"). "Citius, Altius, Fortius.", which is Latin for "Swifter, Higher, Stronger"
The Olympic Oath "In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams."
The Olympic Flame The Olympic flame is a practice continued from the ancient Olympic Games. In Olympia (Greece), a flame was ignited by the sun and then kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games. The flame first appeared in the modern Olympics at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The flame itself represents a number of things, including purity and the endeavor for perfection. In 1936, the chairman of the organizing committee for the 1936 Olympic Games, Carl Diem, suggested what is now the modern Olympic Torch relay. The Olympic flame is lit at the ancient site of Olympia by women wearing ancient-style robes and using a curved mirror and the sun. The Olympic Torch is then passed from runner to runner from the ancient site of Olympia to the Olympic stadium in the hosting city. The flame is then kept alight until the Games have concluded. The Olympic Torch relay represents a continuation from the ancient Olympic Games to the modern Olympics.
The Olympic Hymn The Olympic Hymn, played when the Olympic Flag is raised, was composed by Spyros Samaras and the words added by Kostis Palamas. The Olympic Hymn was first played at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens but wasn't declared the official hymn by the IOC until 1957.
Opening Ceremony Procession Order During the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, the procession of athletes is always led by the Greek team, followed by all the other teams in alphabetical order (in the language of the hosting country), except for the last team which is always the team of the hosting country.
A City, Not a Country When choosing locations for the Olympic Games, the IOC specifically gives the honor of holding the Games to a city rather than a country.
Cancelled Games Because of World War I and World War II, there were no Olympic Games in 1916, 1940, or 1944.
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I cor 9:24,25 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places Ephesians 6:12Ephesians 6:12 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: I john 5:4 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. 2 Timothy 2:5