The history of the Olympics is divided into two parts: the ancient ones referring to ancient Greece, where they began in the seventh century BC. in Olympia, and the modern ones whose project took shape in 1896 with the name of ” Olympic Games ”.
Operation was simple enough.
The classic Olympic Games began with a running competition that took place every Olympics. The Olympics in fact was for the ancient Greeks a time period corresponding to four years. Later other sports were added and the Games became more and more important throughout Greece, so much so that they were held in honor of Zeus and, for the five days of competition, wars throughout the country were suspended.
The Greeks used the Olympics as one of their methods of counting the years, participation was reserved for free Greeks who could boast Greek ancestors.
The need to devote a lot of time to training meant that only members of the wealthiest classes could consider participating.
The Games gradually lost importance as Roman power increased in Greece. When Christianity became the official religion of the Empire, the Olympic Games were seen as a “pagan” holiday, and in 393 AD, ending a 1000-year history, Emperor Theodosius I decreed its suppression.
Of the ancient Olympians, the memory of the most celebrated remains: Koroibos, the first winner in 776 BC, Milone of Crotone who, in 472 BC, won six races. The Games retained their prestige over the centuries even if the subsequent Roman dominion changed its identity. There was room for barbarians and gladiators. Tiberius, the future emperor, was the first barbarian to win a title.
For the modern phase of the Olympics, as anticipated, we have to wait until the mid-nineteenth century, when German archaeologists unearthed the ruins of ancient Olympia and a Frenchman, Pierre de Frédy, baron of Coubertin (1863-1937), was convinced that France could overcome the recent defeat against the Prussians by giving young people adequate physical education.
De Coubertin also wanted to find a way to bring nations together, to allow the young people of the world to compete in a sporting competition, rather than in war. The revival of the Games would have made it possible to achieve both objectives and for this reason it became the standard-bearer of the revival of the modern Olympic Games.
It was November 25, 1892, when, at the age of 29, Pierre de Fredi, Baron de Coubertin, launched his appeal and almost two years later (June 23, 1894) in Paris, during the first Olympic congress, which was attended by 15 members, proposed to revive the Games and launched what is still today the motto of the International Olympic Committee (CIO): citius, altius, fortius (faster, higher, stronger).
The cadence would have been 4 years, following the lunar calendar of ancient Greece.
De Coubertin was also the creator of the Olympic flag: in the Olympic magazine of 1913, he explained that the five rings refer to the five inhabited continents and that the six colors (including the white background) are those present in the flags of the whole world.
The first Olympic Games of the modern era would take place in Athens, Greece, the land where they were born in antiquity. The first Olympics of the modern era were a success. With nearly 250 participants, it was at the time the largest international sporting event ever organized. Greece asked to become the permanent home of all future Olympic Games, but the IOC decided that the Olympics should be organized from time to time in a different country. The second Olympics were awarded to Paris, France.
After the success of the initial edition, the Olympics went through a period of crisis.
The two editions of 1900 in Paris and 1904 in Saint Louis were organized as a simple corollary to the Universal Expositions that were held in those years in the two cities, especially in the 1904 edition, the international participation was very limited, to the point that about the 80% of the athletes were American.
World War II also stopped the games of 1940 in Tokyo and 1944 in London.
Lots of flashes, moments of glory from over a hundred years of five-circle history.
From Connolly, an American student who won the triple in Athens in 1896 and went down in history as the first gold medalist of the modern era, to Dorando Pietri’s dramatic and unforgettable London Marathon. from the golds of Owens in Berlin in front of Hitler (his deeds are celebrated in the film Rase) to the magical 200 meters of Berruti in Rome, from the seven golds of Spitz and the terrorist attack in Munich, to the doping of Ben Johnson in Seoul. And then the boycotts, the protests (first of all the black fist raised on the podium in Mexico ’68 by Smith and Carlos), up to the sick Muhammad Ali ‘who lights up the Atlanta tripod with a trembling hand and moves the world.
Also last year the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games were stopped by the pandemic, in this case, however, it was preferred to postpone them to 2021 (they are in fact underway these days)
The baron therefore indicated in respect of cultural differences, of different identities, the basis of mutual understanding between peoples and nations. The occasion for this meeting between peoples was competition, sport.
The technical result of the races was secondary for the baron, who proclaimed: “It is not important to win, but to participate”.