OLYMPIA The Olympic Games as we know them today have a long history. The first olympic games were organised at Olympia , Greece and were named after their location, hence their name of “Olympic” Games. Nobody knows exactly when they began, but the date of 776 BC is often referred to as the first written mention of the competitions. The Games were held at the same place, every four years.
The Gods themselves were the focus of the original Olympics, in Greece. They were held to honour Zeus – the most important God in Greek mythology. The first Olympic event was the Stadion, a 200 metre running race. Other events were added in following years, including: jumping, chariot racing, wrestling, discus throwing, and horseracing Any Greek man who was not a slave could compete. Female athletes unfortunately were not allowed.
Pierre de Coubertin, a French Baron, believed passionately in the Olympic ideal that enemies could be united in a sporting competition. He believed that an event such as the Olympics could be used to promote peace. He helped create the International Olympic Committee and worked very hard to promote his idea to other countries.
In 1896 , the games returned to Greece – Athens.
Pierre de Coubertin believed that the Olympics were only for men but this changed in 1900, and today women athletes are as common as men are.
The Olympics is a great opportunity for nations to come together in peace, but there have been difficult periods:
The USA did not participate in the 1980 Moscow games due to political differences and the USSR returned the favour in 1984 by not going to Los Angeles.
In Munich in 1972, 11 athletes were killed by terrorists, and a bomb attack killed two people in Atlanta in 1996.
The ideal of fair competition is also under attack, with some athletes cheating by using drugs to improve their performance. Runner, Ben Johnson, lost his Olympic Gold medal in 1988 because he used drugs (steroids).