The Olympic Games were originally started as a significant religious festival to pay tribute to Zeus, the main god of Greece. These games were the largest affair at that time. The date of the beginning of the Olympics is 776 BCE, although, some say the date could be between 884 BCE to 704 BCE. The time is calculated on the number of years in Olympiads (The Games were held every four years, the time between the two celebrations were known as an 'Olympiad.' The Greeks used Olympiads as one way to count years.
There are many differences between the ancient Olympics and the modern games. The basic difference is the religious aspect of the older games. There are fewer categories and only free men who spoke Greek could compete. Women could neither compete or even watch the events because the games were dedicated to Zeus and were only men could be involved. The games were always on the plain of Olympia in Peloponnesos, Greece instead of going to different locations every time.
The winners of the games would not only have the distinction of being first but would also have a crown of olive leaves put on his head. The olive tree was the holy tree of Athens, Greece and the olive branch is a symbol of peace.
Torch bearing was a large part of Greek celebrations, but was not included in the original Greek Olympic games. The carrying of the torch from country to country ending up at the current Olympic site for the lighting ceremony is a modern addition.
The games were a major part of Greek history for hundreds of years, but subsided in popularity as Rome took control of Greece. The Olympics were forbidden as a pagen festival in 393 CE as Christianity was proclaimed the religion of the Roman Empire.
Evangelos Zappas was behind the first modern international Olympic Games. They were in Athens, Greece in the year 1859. He also paid for the revitilization of the Panathinaiko Stadium for the games held there in 1870 and 1875.
The International Olympic Committee was started in 1894 upon the recommendation of a French nobleman, Pierre FrÃ©dy, Baron de Coubertin. Athens was the site for the first of the IOC's Summer Olympics in 1896. The current games include athletes from most countries around the world. They compete in many summer and winter sport events. The summer and winter games were each held every four years until 1992, when they were both held in the same year. They are now separated with two years in between. The most recent games were the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens and 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Maps of Famous Landmarks
On July 13th 2001 the IOC selected Beijing, China for the 2008 Olympic Games. They are to have 302 events in 28 sports to include:
The Games of the XXIX Olympiad (the official name), will be from August 8 to August 24, 2008. The opening ceremony will be at 8 p.m. on August 8, 2008 (08-08-08-08; in Chinese culture the number 8 is connected to prosperity). The city of Qingdao will host some events, like beach volleyball, sailing, and open water swimming.