Olympic Sports History

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The history of the Olympics can be traced back to the 8th Century BC. The games were first held in Olympia, Greece. They continued to be held there for another 1300 years until the 5th Century AD.

Late in the 19th century, Baron Pierre de Coubertin was inspired by attending Olympic festivals, celebrating the ancient games, and set out to revive the games themselves. In 1894 he founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and two years later the modern version of the Olympic Games was established in Athens, Greece. Thus began modern olympic sports history. The IOC has since become the main governing body of the Olympic movement. The structure and actions are all defined by the Olympic charter.

During the 20th century, the evolution of the Olympic movement forced the IOC to adapt the games to the changing circumstances of the world. Some of these adjustments included the creation of the winter games to include ice and snow sports. The Paralympic games for disabled athletes and the young Olympic Games for teenagers.

The IOC has also had to accommodate the games to the changing economic, political and technological realities of today. As a result of these challenges, the Olympics have shifted away from being a purely amateur event, as de Coubertin envisioned, and now allows the participation of professional athletes as well. The growing importance of media and the coverage of the Olympic events has created the issue of corporate sponsorship and commercialization of the games, which serves to further place these special, talented athletes in the spotlight.

Sgt. Jerrod Fields, a U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program Paralympic sprinter.
Sgt. Jerrod Fields, a U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program Paralympic sprinter won a gold medal in the 100 meters with a time of 12.15 seconds at the Endeavor Games in Edmond, Okla., on June 13, 2009. Thanks to Army.mil on flickr.com for the picture.

The games have grown to the point that nearly every nation is represented at the Olympics. This growth has created many different challenges such as boycotts, drugs, bribery and even terrorism. Every two years, the Olympics provide media exposure that gives unknown athletes a chance to attain national or even international fame. Maybe even make the cover of Wheaties!!

The Olympic games constitute a major opportunity for the host city and country as well. So that they may promote and showcase themselves to the world.

Olympic games greek stadium.
Olympic games greek stadium.
Thanks to caramela1977 on flickr.com for the picture.

The opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games were mostly established at the 1920 Summer Olympics. The opening ceremony begins with the hoisting of the host country’s flag and the national anthem followed by singing, dance, and theater displays that represent the host country’s culture. Then the athletes enter the stadium grouped by country. There are opening speeches and the Olympic torch is passed to the final torch carrier who lights the Olympic flame.

After all the sporting events have ended, the flag bearers from each country and the athletes enter the stadium. Three national flags are raised while their corresponding anthems are played. These flags are the flag of Greece to honor the birth of the Olympic Games, the current host country flag, and the flag of the host of the next Olympic Games. There are closing speeches, the passing of the Olympic Flag to the mayor of the city that will be the next host, and the Olympic flame is extinguished.

Equestrian Jumping at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Equestrian Jumping at the 2008 Beijing Olympics -- the event was held in Hong Kong.
Thanks to cmaccubbin on flickr.com for the picture.

From the original ancient Olympic games to today’s world wide event and all the pomp and circumstance that goes along with it, the Olympic Games are known for the grandeur and talent that all of the countries display. As well as providing the athletes a chance to be in the spotlight and possibly secures their future in the sport they love.

The next event in olympic sports history will be the XXI (21st) Winter Olympics Games which will be held February 12-28, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. So, just a few months away.

The next Summer Olympic Games, will be the "Games of the XXX Olympiad" (30th Summer Olympic Games) and will be held in London, England from July 27 to August 12, 2012.

Wondering who was the top olympic athlete in history? Check out Best All-Time Olympian.

The following are a list of articles about various olympic sports. We only count sports that are actually approved for play in olympic games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes other sports as well; however, not all of them are actually played yet (or currently) in the olympics. Again, we only list here actual olympic sports. Here's a link to other non-olympic sports.

Here's our Best All Time Olympic Sports Articles:

Shopping for a special gift for the Olympic fans Best Olympics Gifts

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