History of the Olympic Games
The Ancient Games
Origin Stories Key Facts Events The Demise of the Games
The Modern Games
The revival of the Games Daron Pierre de Coubertin and the Double Dream The Drama of the Games Olympic Symbolism Politics and the Games
The Ancient Games
The earliest date for which actual evidence exists for an Olympic celebration is 776BC. Various funeral games are believed to have been held earlier, perhaps as far back as 1453BC.
1. Facilities at Olympia were built and first games staged by Heracles (Hercules) in honor of Zeus and to celebrate his own success in cleaning the Aegean stables. 2. The Games were established by Pelops, on the model of earlier games in Asia Minor. Pelops is believed to really be buried on the Olympic site and many games were conducted as part of rites at funerals of heroes. 3. The Games were re-established (after earlier Games at the site were abandoned) by King Iphitos of Elis. He was advised by the Oracle at Delphi, who also told him to declare a temporary truce, called the “ekecheiria,” during the Games in order to end local warfare. This truce was, and remained, very much a reality in ancient Greece and helped to unify Greece.
More Mythological Origin Stories
4.The Games were established by Zeus as a celebration of his victory over Chronos for control of Olympia. 5.The Games were established by Pelops in celebration of winning the hand of Hippodaemia. King Oenomaus, her father, decreed that a suitor could only win her hand by kidnapping her and escaping in a chariot. After 13 others were killed in the attempt, Pelops succeeded byremoving the axle pins from the chariot of Oenomaus. Oenomaus, of course, was killed. So much for fair play.
Key Facts (aka: obvious test items)
Other sets of Games established by the ancient Greeks:
•Pythian - At Delphi in honor of Apollo •Ithsmian - At Corinth in honor of Poseidon •Nemean - At Nemea in honor of Zeus •Heraian - At Olympia in honor of Hera (for women only)
First recorded event - 1 stade race (about 200yds), 776BC won by Coriolis of Olis Last recorded event - , 369AD Timing of the Games • The middle day of the Olympic celebration was always the
day of either the 2nd or 3rd full moon after the summer solstice (longest day of year). • This was always a period when those who worked the soil had free time.
More Key Facts (aka: obvious test items)
Prize for winners •Originally the only prize was a wreath of olive leaves. •Later, winners gained some very valuable prizes. Note the parallel with the modern Games, which originally were strictly for amateurs but now accept professionals. Violations of the truce •Even Alexander the Great was once forced to pay a heavy fine because one of his soldiers violated the truce.
Demise of the ancient Games
Abolished by the Roman Emperor Theodosius between 392 and 394 AD. Rome had adopted Christianity just a few years before and the Games were considered (correctly) a ritual of the older, pagan religion.
The Modern Games
Re-establishment of the Olympic Games
•For 1300 years or so the Olympic Games were largely forgotten. •The earliest record of the idea of an Olympic revival is credited to J.C.F.GutsMuth (1759-1839) a German who is also the founder of the gymnastics movement. However, Guts-Muth never attempted to do anything about the idea, and it was not really possible at the time anyway. •On January 10, 1852, Ernst Curtius, an archeologist, gave a lecture in Berlin in which he discussed the ancient Olympics. His research stimulated interest in Greece and resulted in the organization of Pan-Hellenic Games by Major Evangelis Zappas. Pan-Hellenic Games were actually held in Greece in 1859, 1870, 1875, 1888, and 1889. These were strictly Greek affairs but were noticed by other countries. •In 1889, Baron Pierre de Coubertin was given a commission by France to study physical culture throughout the world. He found a mess of feuding, dissension between nations, struggles between sports, disagreements over professionalism and amateurism, and other problems. The Baron was also concerned over French morale after France‟s defeat by Prussia in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian War. (more on next slide)
Re-establishment of the Olympic Games
•In 1892 de Coubertin gave a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris in which he proposed the idea of an Olympic revival. His speech was very well received. Therefore, he then called and led a meeting of representatives from 13 countries. •The meeting called by de Coubertin took place June 16 - 23, 1894. The meeting resulted in the formation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Baron de Coubertin became the first President of the IOC. •In the same meeting, the IOC voted that the Games should be held every four years and that, “….every nation should be invited to participate.” •Baron de Coubertin wanted the first Olympic Games to be held in Paris in 1900. However, the Greek delegation proposed that the first Games be held in Athens in 1896. The IOC approved this idea. •Although Greece was a poor country and the government could give no money to support the Games, a gift of 184000 dollars was given by George Averoff to rebuild the stadium in Athens and the Games of 1896 were held as planned.
The Double Dream
•Baron de Coubertin died in 1932. However, his widow lived to be 100 years old. In 1960, at the age of 100, Mrs de Coubertin was interviewed by Dr. John Lucas of Pennsylvania State University. •Mrs. De Coubertin told Dr. Lucas of what she described as her husband as “crazy in love with the idea of the Olympic Games. She then described his „double dream‟ for the Olympic Games. •The first part of the dream was that the Games would become the largest sporting event on the planet. This part has clearly been achieved. There is no other event that even comes close to attracting as many athletes or as many nations. •The second part of the dream was that the Games would bring together representatives from every nation of the earth for peaceful competition, and that these people would then bring the message of peace and achievement through unity back to their nations. This would then contribute to peace in the world. This part of the dream was partly achieved in 1996. All 197 invited nations did, in fact, participate in peaceful competition. The achievement of peace in the world, however, has proven to be more elusive, although the Olympics clearly have made a contribution toward that end.
Drama of the Games Themselves
Tidbits of Olympic History 1896 - 2000
1896 - Athens, Greece
•Games opened April 6, 1896 - date chosen as 75th anniversary of the independence of Greece •The Opening Ceremony involved almost 300 athletes representing 12 or 13 countries. Compare that to the more than 10000 athletes and almost 200 countries in Atlanta. There were 9 sports - cycling, fencing, gymnastics, tennis, shooting, swimming, track and field, weight lifting, and wrestling. •The Games were officially opened by the King of Greece with the words, “I hereby proclain the opening of the First International Olympic Games in Athens.” All Olympic Games are now opened by the head of state of the host country with the same words, except for updating. •The very first events were three heats of the 100 meter dash, all won by Americans. •The very first final event was the hop,step, and jump (triple jump), won by James B. Connolly, an American. Thus, Connolly became the first Olympic Champion in 1502 years. A Greek, Joannis Persakis, was third and thereby became the first Greek medal winner.
1896 - Athens, Greece
•A French runner wore white gloves when he ran the 100 meter dash. Asked why he wore them he explained it was because he was running in front of the King. •The same French runner was actually entered and competed in two events, the 100 meter dash and the marathon. •In the discus event, Robert Garrett, an American, won by 7 inches in a surprise victory over the favorite Greek competitor, Panagiotis Paraskevopolous. It must have been a surprise to Garrett as well. Although Garrett had practiced with an approximation of one, he had never actually seen a real discus before he reached Athens. •An American swimmer named Williams entered the water prior to his race, then promptly climbed out and refused to compete. He complained that the water was considerably colder than he was accustomed to.
The Marathon •There was no marathon event in the ancient Games but the event does commemorate a military victory on the Plain of Marathon, so it was very important to the Greeks. •The marathon was scheduled as the very last event on the Olympic program, and no Greek athlete had yet taken a gold. Earlier, the financier George Averoff had made an offer of 100,000 Drachmas and his daughter‟s hand in marriage to any Greek who won the marathon. •Spiridon Loues prepared for the race by praying for two days and fasting for one. Midway in the race he moved into first place when American Arthur Blake collapsed. When Loues entered the stadium first, the Greek crowd went wild, some throwing jewels at his feet. •Loues did not accept the marriage offer (he was married already) but he did accept free meals for one year and free shoe polishing for life. He also accepted a field. Told by the king he could have anything he wanted, he asked for a horse and a cart so he would not have to chase his mule anymore.
1900 - Paris
•The Games were largely a side-show to a world‟s fair and were very poorly planned. •The organizers did so little planning that the facilities were not ready as the time for the Games approached. At the last minute they appointed Baron de Coubertin himself to try to save the Games. He did what he could but the Games were a mess that went on for more than a month. •Track and field had to take place in a grassy field. [The French were appalled by the idea of digging up a beautiful lawn to put in a cinder track. De Coubertin had to settle for laying out a 500 meter oval on grass - the circuit wasn‟t even level - and they had to use telephone poles to build hurdles. •Quit while you‟re ahead! France and Sweden/Norway were the only entries in the tug of war. Sweden/Norway won. After all this happened a group of Americans issued a challenge. For inexplicable reasons, the Sweden/Norway team not only agreed to the challenge, but agreed to put the gold medal on the line. Needless to say, the Americans won and to this day is officially recorded as the Olympic champion.
1900 - Paris
•1st major international incident: The Games were scheduled to begin on Sunday, July 15. “Sacrilege,” cried some Americans, and threatened to withdraw completely if they had to compete on Sunday. In spite of the fact that July 14 is a national holiday in France (their equivalent of our 4th of July, called Bastile Day) the French shifted the opening ceremony to Saturday, although the competition went on on Sunday as planned. •Alvin Kranzlein, American, won 4 individual gold medals in track and field. He remains the only athlete to do this. Several have won 4 golds but not all in individual events. When he won his 4th he stated, “I am through with athletics and shall devote myself to something more serious.” Of course, he became a coach. •Marathon scandal - Three French runners took gold, silver, and bronze. However, there had been a last-minute change of course that should have taken the runners through a mud puddle. The three French runners were NOT spattered with mud, though everyone else was, suggesting they may have taken a short cut. However, they are recorded as the winners. •The first competition in a true team sport took place in 1900, in water polo. Great Britain took the gold.
1904 - St. Louis
•Originally planned for Chicago, the Games were moved to St. Louis, based on a suggestion by Theodore Roosevelt that they become part of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. Thus, these games became the closest ever held to Louisiana. •The Games became largely a side-show of the exposition. •Only 11 countries participated. Largely this was because St. Louis was very hard to get to in those days. •Of 23 track and field events, the US took 22 gold, 33 silver, and 20 bronze. •Marathon story: Lorz, an American broke down about halfway and accepted a ride in an automobile back to the finish. Then the car broke down. Feeling better and being a bit of a free spirit, Lorz then jogged to the finish line. People cheered wildly, thinking him the leader. He played along but finally confessed just before being presented a championship cup by Alice Roosevelt, daughter of the President. He thought the whole thing was very funny, but not the AAU. They banned him for life. They later relented and he won the Boston Marathon in 1905. •Gold medal count was rather one sided. The US took 77. The next closest was Cuba with 7.
1904 - St. Louis
•Marathon story #2: Hicks, an American, was leading 7 miles from the end but was about to give up in exhaustion. His handlers then game him the white of an egg and a small dose of strychnine. [Strychnine is a deadly poison] Although reduced to a walk, he managed to hang on and win in a daze by 6 minutes. There were no rules concerning the use of drugs in those days but perhaps this can be recorded as the first use of drugs to try to improve performance in the Olympics.
1906 - Athens, Greece
•Only summer Games not staged in the usual 4 year cycle. •900 athletes from 21 countries. •There is a tradition in the US that the US flag is never dipped in salute to a head of state of another country. However, the New York Evening Mail had an article at the time containing the following quote of Matt Halpin, the American flag bearer in the opening ceremony. “When I dipped the stars and stripes passing the royal box, the king staked me to a smile that made me feel like I belonged.” •Poor sportsmanship - When Austrian weightlifter Josef Steinbach was jeered by the Greek audience after being accused of being a professional he quit in protest. A Greek lifter then won the event. The winner‟s barbell was still on stage during the medal ceremony. Steinback walked onto the stage during the medal ceremony, casually walked over to the barbell the winner had lifted, and nonchalantly lifted it over his head three times. He then bowed to the crowd and walked out. •Werner Jaarvinen of Finland won two golds in track. When he returned home he found he was a national hero and his achievements generated tremendous interest in track and field in Finland. From 1912 through 1932 Finland never finished lower than 2nd in track and field. Three of Werner‟s descendants later became Olympians as well.
More for 1906 - Athens, Greece
•The American track team was selected on the basis of reputation rather than any sort of trial. Paul Pilgrim was not selected. However, the coach was allowed to select one more member just before departure and he selected Pilgrim. Pilgrim won gold in both the 400 and 800, the only athlete ever to win that combination. •George Bonhag ran in the 1500 as a pace setter, setting a very slow pace and not winning anything. He later finished 4th in the 5 mile race. In disappointment he entered the 1500 meter walk. He had never competed in a walking event before. Partly as the result of some disqualifications, he won gold. •Unlike the Games of 1900 and 1904, these Games were regarded as superbly organized and may have saved the Olympics from oblivion.
1908 - London
•Opening ceremony scandal: On opening day the stadium was draped with the flags of participating nations. However the US flag was missing. The British tried to explain they had been unable to find one but the Americans were outraged. In the parade, the Americans the Americans carried several flags and refused to dip the flag as they passed King Edward. This, of course, outraged the British. The American Martin Sheridan, weight thrower was quoted as saying, “This flag dips to no earthly king.” To this day the US flag has never been dipped in an Olympic parade. •The rest of the story. The Swedish flag was also missing, so the British may have been innocent. •Scandal in the 400 meter run: The British runner Halswelle was the favorite. Rumors circulated in the press that the Americans would gang up to beat Halswelle. With 100 meters to go, Carpenter (USA) made a wide turn and took the lead. British officials yelled, “foul” and one actually stepped in to stop Taylor, another American. Carpenter finished 1st, Taylor 2nd, and Halswelle 3rd. The judges then disqualified Carpenter and declared the race void, ordering it to be run again. In protest, both Americans withdrew and Halswelle took the gold in the only walkover in Olympic history. Later the rules were changed so that all judging was handled internationally and not by the host nation.
More 1908 - London
•Program increased to 22 sports. •The first winter sport in the Olympics - Figure skating - Gold won by Pania, a Russion. Pania thus became the first and only Russian to win a medal until 1952.Also, the only medal winner from Czarist Russia. •Scandal in the tug of war: According to the rules, “No person shall wear prepared boots as shoes, only ordinary footwear.” The British team was composed of a group of Liverpool policemen, and they showed up for competition wearing heavy police boots with steel rims. The Americans protested but the British officials ruled that the boots were okay because they were the everyday footwear for the Liverpool Police. The Americans quit and the British took the gold.
1912 - Stockholm
•28 nations, 2500 athletes, including 57 women. •Jim Thorpe: One of greatest athletes of 20th century. Gold in pentathlon AND decathlon, 4th in high jumpt, 7th in long jump. A year later it was discovered he had accepted a few dollars for playing minor league baseball. He was then stripped of his medals •In the 1930‟s there was an attempt to have Thorpe reinstated. One of the major opponents of that move was Avery Brundage, the second president of the IOC. Brundage had finished 6th in the pentathlon and 15th in the decathlon, an obvious conflict of interest. •Athletic Longevity: Ralph Craig won gold in the 100 and 200 meter races. In 1948, after an interval of 36 years, Craig competed in the Olympics again, this time in yaughting. He finished 11th. •Curiosity: Platt and Ben Adams, brothers, finished 1st and 2nd, respectively, in the standing high jump. •George Patton finished 5th in the Modern Pentathlon. He probably would have finished first except for some defective ammunition. Later, Patton became very famous as an tank general in WWII.
1912 - Stockholm
•Turnabout in fair play: The British tried again to use heavy police boots in the tug of war. The Swedes, however, arranged for the event to be held in sand, making the heavy boots a liability. The Swedes won. •False Myth: It is commonly believed that when Thorpe was ordered to return his medals, the second place winners refused to accept the gold medal. This is not true. •False Myth: The is a story that when Thorpe was given an award by the king of Sweded, he replied, “Thanks, King.” There is, however, no evidence that such words were ever spoken.
1916 - Games Cancelled due to War
1920 - Antwerp
•2600 athletes, 29 nations, attendance poor - WWI ended only 1 year before. •First appearance of the Olympic flag, designed by de Coubertin •First use of the Olympic Oath •Government funding: The US Congress authorized use of a troop ship to bring the US team to Antwerp. This was the first and only time federal funds have been used to support the US team. •One result of the two-week voyage was a romance leading to a marriage between two US athletes, Dick Landon (high jumper) and Alice Lord (diver). •Outstanding runner: Paavo Nurmi, Finland, won 7 gold and 3 silver between 1920 and 1928. He might have won more in 1932 but was declared ineligible for receiving expense money. •Track and field gold medal count: USA 9, Finland 9. No other nation ever beat or tied the USA in track and field gold medals until 1972, when the USA and USSR tied.
1920 - Antwerp
•Young Athlete: A US diver, Aileen Riggin, won gold . She was 13 years old. •Calling a bluff: Poor planning resulted in some very poor accomodations for US athletes. Several requested, and were given, permission to move to better quarters, but permission was denied to triple jumper Dan Ahearn. He then missed a 10PM curfew because he had moved into a hotel with one of those given better quarters. The USOC suspended Ahearn. Other Americans rebelled and 200 signed a request that Ahearn be reinstated, threatening to not compete. The USOC threatened them, “You can‟t do that…You can‟t betray the people who sent you over here…What would you do if the Committee (USOC) quit.” They replied, “We‟d get a better one.” The USOC then backed down and reinstated Ahearn. •Ice Hockey and Rugby football were introduced to the Games.
1924 - Paris(s), Chamonix(w)
•Paris becomes 1st city to serve as host twice. •First celebration of Winter Games (although figure skating and ice hockey were competed in the Games previously. •Canadian Ice Hockey team wins gold in slaughter (Checkoslovakia 30-0, Sweden 22-0, Switzerland 33-0,England 19-2, USA 6-1). •Benjamin Spock wins gold in rowing - later writes baby book that becomes 2nd leading sales book of all time (Bible is #1). •Johnny Weismuller wins 3 gold (swimming) and 1 bronze (water polo). May be only athlete ever to win medals in two sports in the same Olympics. Later played Tarzan in movies. •Paavo Nurmi, in 5 days, wins 1500, 5000, 10000, and 3000 team race. In the 1500 he finished easily, jogged straight to locker room, came out 1 hour later to win the 5000, setting an Olympic record. •Bob LeFondre of the US jumped 25‟6” in the long jump portion of the Pentathlon, 1 foot further than the gold medal-winning long jump by Hubbard, another American. All LeFondre got, however, was the pentathlon bronze. •Gertrude Ederle won a gold and 2 bronzes in swimming. Two years later she became the first woman to swim the English channel.
1928 Amsterdam(s), St.Moritz (w)
•Tragic story of a great athlete: Billy Fiske became the youngest American male athlete to win a gold, when he won the 4 man bobsled race in 1928, at the age of 16. He won again in 1932.At the beginning of WWII, Fiske became the first American to volunteer to serve in the Royal Air Force, and, unfortunately, the first American pilot killed in WWII.
1932 - Los Angeles(s), Lake Placid(w)
•Edward Eagan won a gold medal as part of the 4man bobsled team. He previously won a gold medal in 1920 in Light Heavyweight Boxing. He thus became the only athlete to date to have won medals in both summer and winter Olympics. •Babe Didrickson won 2 golds and a silver in track and field. She later went on to success in several professional sports - principally golf.
1936 - Berlin(s),Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
•Jesse Owens wins 4 gold in track and field •Playing of national anthems with medal ceremony introduced. •First torch relay. •Sonja Henie (Norway) wins gold in figure skating for the third consecutive Olympics. She went on to a career in the movies.
1940 - Games Cancelled due to war
1944 - Games Cancelled due to war
1948 - London (s), St.Moritz (w)
•St. Moritz becomes first city to host winter games twice
1952 Helsinki, Finland(s),Oslo, Norway (w)
Emil Zatopek (Czeckoslovakia) wins gold in the 5000, 10000, and marathon. Only athletes to ever do this.
1956 - Melbourne(s), Cortina d‟Ampezzo, Italy(w)
1960 - Rome(s), Squaw Valley, CA(w)
•Abebe Bikila (Ethiopia) wins the marathon, running barefoot. •Patricia McCormack, USA diver, won both women‟s diving golds for the second Olympic Games in a row. In 1988, her daughter swept both diving golds for the second Olympics in a row. •Cassius Clay (later Muhammad Ali) wins gold in Light Heavyweight Boxing. Later widely recognized as one of the gretest athletes of the 20th century.
1964 - Tokyo(s), Innsbruck, Austria (w)
1968 - Mexico City(s), Grenoble, France (w)
•Al Oerter wins gold in the discus, for the fourth consecutive Olympics. •Dawn Fraser (Australia) wins gold in 100m freestyle for the third consecutive Olympics. •Bob Beamon breaks long jump record by almost 2 feet. •Tommie Smith and John Carlos use medal ceremony to show disdain for racial discrimination in the USA
1972 - Munich(s), Sapporo, Japan (w)
•11 Israeli athletes killed by terrorists •Mark Spitz wins 7 gold in swimming •US loses in basketball in very controversial decision
1976 - Montreal(s), Innsbruck, Austria (w)
Nadia Comineci (Romania) wins 3 golds and 7 perfect scores in gymnastics at the age of 14.
1980 - Moscow(s), Lake Placid (w)
•Summer Games boycotted by US and allies •US Ice Hockey beats Soviets for gold in big upset. •Eric Heiden wins 5 golds in speed skating. Most ever in winter Games.
1984 - Los Angeles (s), Sarajevo, (w)
•Opening ceremony - Every nation in the Olympic movement (including those boycotting) was represented in the opening ceremony by a citizen of Los Angeles whose ancestry was from that country. •Boycotted by Soviet Union and its allies. •First Olympics to make significant profit for host (200M).
1988 - Seoul (s), Calgary, Canada (w)
•Boycotted by North Korea and Cuba
1992 - Barcelona (s), Albertville, France (w)
1994 Lillehammer, Norway
•Bonnie Blair wins 5 golds in speed skating, more than any American woman in a single Olympic Games, either summer or winter.
1996 - Atlanta
•197 nations participate (100 percent of invited countries)
1998 - Nagano, Japan
2000 - Sidney
2002 - Salt Lake City
•IOC rocked by major scandal involving bribery during host-city selection process
2004 - Athens
•Athens will become the first city to serve as host three times.
2006 - Turin, Italy
2008 - ?
Politics and the Olympics
Politics and the Olympics have been intertwined from almost the beginning. The Olympics were formed, of course, for a political purpose, so it is not surprising that politics have become involved. Unfortunately, politics have probably had more of an effect on the Games than the Games have had on politics. Some examples of political interference with the games are on the next slide.
•1936 - Berlin - Games used by nazies to promote their ideas of racial superiority. •1968 - Mexico City - Games used by American Black athletes to protest American policies concerning race. •1972 - Munich - Games boycotted by most Arab nations. Eleven Israili athletes killed in terrorist incident at the Olympic village. •1976 - Montreal - Games boycotted by most arab nations, South Africa banned. •1980 - Moscow - Games boycotted by USA and its allies in protest over Soviet attack on Afganistan. •1984 - Los Angeles - Games boycotted by Soviet Union and its allies in protest of American involvement in Nicaragua. •1988,1992 - Seoul, Barcelona - South Africa still banned. •1996 - Atlanta - No one boycotted, no one banned.