Monday, August 4, 2008

Let the Games Begin

The 2008 Summer Olympics are finally here. The opening ceremony will start on Friday evening of 8/8/08. The excitement is starting to mount for the athletes, the countries, and the many fans throughout the world. I thought it would be interesting to review the history of the Olympics and talk about when and how it all began and how the Olympics got to be what they are today.

According to the online reference
The very first Olympics were in Olympia, Greece from 776 BC to AD 393.
Interest in reviving the Olympic Games proper was first shown by the Greek poet and newspaper editor Panagiotis Soutsos in his poem "Dialogue of the Dead" in 1833. Evangelos Zappas sponsored the first modern international Olympic Games in 1859. He paid for the refurbishment of the Panathinaiko Stadium for Games held there in 1870 and 1875. This was noted in newspapers and publications around the world including the London Review, which stated that "the Olympian Games, discontinued for centuries, have recently been revived! Here is strange news indeed ... the classical games of antiquity were revived near Athens".

It is interesting to note that the games existed for almost 1,200 years and then disappeared for almost 1,500 years before being revived back near Athens, Greece.
The Wikipedia reference goes on further to say “The Games gradually declined in importance as the Romans gained power in Greece. After Emperor Theodosius I proclaimed Christianity the religion of the Empire and banned pagan rites, the Olympic Games were outlawed as a pagan festival in 393 AD.”
I studied further on multiple websites and learned that in 776 AD there was only 1 event—the sprint—a short run called the “stade.” In 1896 there were only 9 sports and 43 events were included in the program between April 6 - 15: athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, weightlifting, tennis and shooting (rowing and sailing were also planned but were canceled because of bad weather). There were only 14 nations that participated and 175 athletes.
Today 10,500 athletes are expected to compete in 302 events in 28 sports from a total of 203 countries. There will be many gold, silver, and bronze medals handed out over the next 16 days. Make sure and tune in for the Games this year and cheer on your favorite athletes and support your country. It will be 16 excitement-filled days of watching the best athletes in the world compete with one another in the greatest event in the world.
Let the games begin!

Return to the neighborhood

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