The History Behind the Modern Olympic Games
The Olympic Games have a long history dating back to Ancient Greece, where it became a huge festive celebration. The modern Olympic Games preserve the basic traditions that originated during the Ancient Games, such as the opening, closing, and victors ceremonies. The modern Olympic Games host more than two hundred participating nations competing in various winter and summer sporting events. No other sports competition compares to the enormity of the Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee oversees every aspect of the Games, including which country hosts future events down to the pre-planned location of each venue. The International Olympic Committee ensures that each Olympic celebration adheres to the definitions outlined in the Olympic Charter of 1920.
The modern Olympic Games evolved past the influence of its ancient counterpart. For instance, the Olympic Games consist of biennial sporting events that include winter and summer-based competitions. In addition, the Olympic Movement has expanded its influence to create the Paralympic, Special Olympics, and Deaf Olympics for those with physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities, or hearing impaired. The Youth Olympics hosts competitions for young teenagers who qualify for the competition. Originally, the Olympic Games only featured amateur athletes who took pride in competing against other athletes. Due to the emerging technological advances of the early 20 th and 21 st centuries the International Olympic Committee shifted its perspective by including more professional athletes in competitions, especially after the Games started to receive media coverage and corporate sponsorship.
In 1896, the modern Olympic Games only represented 14 nations and 241 participants. In 2008, the Games have exponentially grown to include 204 countries and 10,500 athletes. The most predominant celebration occurs every four years during the summer months. A smaller celebration occurs during the winter.
During the Games, most of the athletes live in the Olympic Village, or a small furnished home that provides food, health treatments, and religious centers. The International Olympic Committee continues to strive to meet all of the cultural standards of the participating countries without exercising discrimination, although it has received criticism from those who do not feel that the Olympics should divide sporting events according to disability. In the past, disabled athletes have participated in the regular Olympics despite their disability. Today, the same opportunity exists; however, critics still feel that the division promotes social inequality at a sporting event meant to bring unity.
The modern Olympic Games had its share of cancellations at the height of the First and Second World Wars. For the Games that did commence during these turbulent times, a heavy sense of nationalism emerged that was well conveyed during the Games. In today's unstable political, economic, and social climate, the Games face potential cancellations from struggling countries as mirrored during the early 1900s. In fact, the International Olympic Committee raised their eyebrow as to whether London could host the 2012 Olympics after its flare of riots in 2011. As the Games continue to grow in scale of wonder, the IOC faces growing challenges that may include boycotts, bribery, doping, social upheaval, and terrorism. Counterterrorism units have responded to secure future celebrations from potential attacks, especially after the pipe bomb explosion that occurred at the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia.
Follow these links to learn more about the history of the modern Olympic Games:
- The Olympic Games in History
- Ancient and Modern Olympic Sports
- The First Modern Olympic Games, Athens, Greece, 1896
- History of the Olympics
- American Women and the Modern Summer Olympic Games (PDF)
- The Olympic Games: Ancient and Modern (PDF)
- The History of Badminton
- The Modern Olympic Games and their Model in Antiquity (PDF)
- Lighting the Torch of Human Rights: the Olympic Games as a Vehicle for Human Rights Reform (PDF)
- The Olympic Summer Games: History
- The Timeline of Key Events in Olympic History (PDF)
- Ancient Olympic Games
- All About the Olympic Games
- How the Olympic Games Began (PDF)
- The Olympics Games in Historical Perspective
- History of the Special Olympics
- The History of the Olympic Games
- The History of the United States Olympic Trials: Track and Field (PDF)
- An Olympian's Oral History (PDF)
- The History of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (PDF)
- Women's Participation in the Olympic Games (PDF)
- Ancient Greeks: The Olympic Games
- Gateway to the Summer Games
- An Olympic Games Primer
- The History of the Olympic Games and its Leading Figures
- BrainPOP: The Olympics
- Summer Olympics Through The Years
- The Olympics Through Time