Summer Olympic Gameswww.transitweb.chDominic Patric de NeuvilleThe Summer Olympic Games or the Games of the Olympiad are aninternational multi-sport event, occurring every four years, organized bythe International Olympic Committee. Medals are awarded in each event,with gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third, atradition that started in 1904. The Winter Olympics were also created dueto the success of the summer Olympics.The olympics have increased from a 42-event competition with fewerthan 250 male athletes to a 300-event sporting celebration with over10,000 competitors from 205 nations. Organizers for the 2008 SummerOlympics in Beijing expected approximately 10,500 athletes to take partin the 302 events on the program for the games.The United States has hosted four Summer Olympics Games, more thanany other nation. The United Kingdom will have hosted three SummerOlympics Games when they return to the British capital in 2012, all ofthem have been (and will be) in London, making it the first city to hold theSummer Olympic Games three times. Australia, France, Germany andGreece have all hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice. Othercountries that have hosted the summer Olympics are Belgium, China,Canada, Finland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain,the Soviet Union and Sweden. In the 2016 Summer Olympics, Rio deJaneiro will host the first Summer Games in South America. Four citieshave hosted two Summer Olympic Games: Los Angeles, London, Parisand Athens. Stockholm, Sweden, has hosted events at two SummerOlympic Games, having hosted the games in 1912 and the equestrianevents at the 1956 Summer Olympics—which they are usually listed asjointly hosting. Events at the summer Olympics have also been held inHong Kong and the Netherlands (both represented by their own NOCs),with the equestrian events at the 2008 Summer Olympics being held inHong Kong and two sailing races at the 1920 Summer Olympics beingheld in the Netherlands.Five countries – Greece, Great Britain, France, Switzerland and Australia– have been represented at all Summer Olympic Games. The onlycountry to have won at least one gold medal at every Summer OlympicGames is Great Britain, ranging from one gold in 1904, 1952 and 1996 tofifty-six golds in 1908.
QualificationQualification rules for each of the Olympic sports are set by theInternational Sports Federations (IFs) that governs that sportsinternational competition.For individual sports, competitors typically qualify through attaining acertain place in a major international event or on the IFs ranking list.National Olympic committees may enter a limited number of qualifiedcompetitors in each event, and the NOC decides which qualifiedcompetitors to select as representatives in each event if more haveattained the benchmark than can be entered.Nations qualify teams for team sports through continental qualifyingtournaments, in which each continental association is given a certainnumber of spots in the Olympic tournament.HistoryEarly yearsThe modern Olympic Games were founded in 1894 when Pierre Fredy,Baron de Coubertin sought to promote international understandingthrough sporting competition. He based his Olympics on the WenlockOlympian Society Annual Games, which had been contested in MuchWenlock since 1850.The first edition of de Coubertins games, held in Athens in 1896,attracted just 245 competitors, of whom more than 200 were Greek, andonly 14 countries were represented. Nevertheless, no internationalevents of this magnitude had been organized before. Female athleteswere not allowed to compete, though one woman, Stamata Revithi, ranthe marathon course on her own, saying "[i]f the committee doesn’t letme compete I will go after them regardless".The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the IOlympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was celebrated inAthens, Greece, from April 6 to April 15, 1896. It was the first OlympicGames held in the Modern era. Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the
Olympic Games, consequently Athens was perceived to be anappropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games. It wasunanimously chosen as the host city during a congress organized byPierre de Coubertin, a French pedagogue and historian, in Paris, onJune 23, 1894. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was alsoestablished during this congress.Despite many obstacles and setbacks, the 1896 Olympics were regardedas a great success. The Games had the largest internationalparticipation of any sporting event to that date. Panathinaiko Stadium,the first big stadium in the modern world, overflowed with the largestcrowd ever to watch a sporting event. The highlight for the Greeks wasthe marathon victory by their compatriot Spiridon Louis. The mostsuccessful competitor was German wrestler and gymnast CarlSchuhmann, who won four gold medals.After the Games, Coubertin and the IOC were petitioned by severalprominent figures including Greeces King George and some of theAmerican competitors in Athens, to hold all the following Games inAthens. However, the 1900 Summer Olympics were already planned forParis and, except for the 1906 Intercalated Games, the Olympics did notreturn to Greece until the 2004 Summer Olympics.Four years later the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris attracted more thanfour times as many athletes, including 20 women, who were allowed toofficially compete for the first time, in croquet, golf, sailing, and tennis.The Games were integrated with the Paris Worlds Fair and lasted over 5months. It is still disputed which events exactly were Olympic, since fewor maybe even none of the events were advertised as such at the time.Numbers declined for the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Missouri, UnitedStates, due in part to the lengthy transatlantic boat trip required of theEuropean competitors, and the integration with the Louisiana PurchaseExposition Worlds Fair, which again spread the event out over anextended period. In contrast with Paris 1900, the word Olympic was usedfor practically every contest, including those exclusively for school boysor for Irish-Americans.A series of smaller games were held in Athens in 1906. The IOC doesnot currently recognize these games as being official Olympic Games,although many historians do. The 1906 Athens games were the first ofan alternating series of games to be held in Athens, but the series failedto materialize. The games were more successful than the 1900 and 1904games, with over 900 athletes competing, and contributed positively tothe success of future games.
The 1908 London Games saw numbers rise again, as well as the firstrunning of the marathon over its now-standard distance of 42.195 km (26miles 385 yards). The winner of the first Olympic Marathon in 1896 (amale-only race) was Spiridon "Spiros" Louis, a Greek water-carrier. Hewon at the Olympics in 2 hours 58 minutes and 50 seconds at a distanceof 40 km (24 miles 85 yards). The new marathon distance of 42.195 km(26 miles 385 yards) was chosen to ensure that the race finished in frontof the box occupied by the British royal family. Thus the marathon hadbeen 40 km for the first games in 1896, but was subsequently varied byup to 2 km due to local conditions such as street and stadium layout. Atthe six Olympic games between 1900 and 1920, the marathon was racedover six different distances.At the end of the 1908 marathon the Italian runner Dorando Pietri wasfirst to enter the stadium, but he was clearly in distress, and collapsed ofexhaustion before he could complete the event. He was helped over thefinish line by concerned race officials, but later he was disqualified andthe gold medal was awarded to John Hayes, who had trailed him byaround 30 seconds.The Games continued to grow, attracting 2,504 competitors, toStockholm in 1912, including the great all-rounder Jim Thorpe, who wonboth the decathlon and pentathlon. Thorpe had previously played a fewgames of baseball for a fee, and saw his medals stripped for this breachof amateurism after complaints from Avery Brundage. They werereinstated in 1983, 30 years after his death. The Games at Stockholmwere the first to fulfill Pierre de Coubertins original idea. For the first timesince the Games started in 1896 were all continents represented withathletes competing in the same stadium.www.transitweb.chDominic Patric de Neuville