Encyclopedia > Olympic games

  Article Content

Olympic Games

Redirected from Olympic games

The Olympic Games are a multi-sport event taking place every fourth year. Originally held in ancient Greece, they were revived by French Baron Pierre de Coubertin in the late 19th century. The Games of the Olympiad, better known as the Summer Olympics, have been held every fourth year since 1896, with the exception of the years during the World Wars. A special edition for winter sports, the Winter Olympic Games, started in 1924; since 1994 these are no longer held in the same year as the Games of the Olympiad.

Table of contents

Ancient History A Greek legend tells of the great Heracles (or Hercules, in Latin) who won a race at Olympia and then decreed that the race should be re-enacted every four years. Another legend says that Zeus had instated the festival after his defeat of Cronus. According to yet another legend, King Iphitos[?] of Elidos[?] consulted the Pythia (oracle of Delphi) to try and save his people from war in the 9th century BC. The prophetess advised him to organise games in honour of the gods. The Spartan adversary of Ipitos then decided to stop the war during these games, which were called Olympic, after Mount Olympus, the mountain on which the Greek gods were said to live. The last version is probably the most accurate, although the Games likely originated from locally held games. Another possible source of the Games is the legend of Oenomaus, who challenged his daughter's suitors to a chariot race and killed the losers. The fourteenth suitor, Pelops, cheated by bribing Oenomaus' charioteer, Myrtilus, who loosened a lynchpin, killing Oenomaus. Pelops married the princess, Hippodamia.

The Games were held in Olympia, a worshipping place for the Greek gods. Located in Olympia was a 12 m high statue in ivory and gold of Zeus, the main god. The statue was one of the ancient Seven Wonders of the World.

The first written accounts of the Olympic Games date from 776 BC, although it is sure that these Games were not the first ones to be held. The only competiton held then was the stadion race, a race over about 190 meters, measured after the feet of Hercules. The word stadium is derived from this foot race. The Olympic Games were held in four year intervals, and later the Greek method of counting the years even referred to these Games, using the term Olympiad for the period between two Games.

Over the years, other events were added: boxing, wrestling, a pentathlon[?], pankration (combination of boxing and wrestling), chariot racing[?], and several other athletic events such as more running events, javelin throw and discus throw. The addition of these events meant the festival grew from 1 day to 5 days, of which 3 were used for competition.

The winners of an Olympic event were awarded an olive branch, and was often received with much honour in his home town (and outside). (See Milon from Croton[?].) Sculptors would create statues of Olympic victors (see Ageladas).

The ancient Olympic Games were abandoned in AD 394 by the Roman emperor Theodosius I, who considered the Games to be a savage celebration.


  • specific winner
  • better details
  • customs
  • no war during Games
  • Roman influence


De Coubertin, founding of IOC

Modern History

Games of the Olympiad

See Summer Olympic Games for a global history, or the the articles for the individual celebrations:

Olympic Winter Games

See Olympic Winter Games for a global history, or the the articles for the individual celebrations:


A large number of sports have been conducted at the Olympic Games. The following sports are currently on the program of the Games of the Olympiad.

The following sports have been on the program, but are no longer held:

Sports held as a demonstration, or of which the Olympic status is disputable (d):

The following sports are on the program of the Winter Olympic Games:

The following sports have been held as a demonstration, but have never made it as an Olympic winter sport:

Related Topics

Olympic is also the name the public sometimes uses for the Greek national airline, Olympic Airways. Olympic uses varous types or airplanes, like the Boeing 747 and Airbus A340[?] for international routes, and the Boeing 727 and Boeing 737 for domestic routes.

All Wikipedia text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

  Search Encyclopedia

Search over one million articles, find something about almost anything!
  Featured Article
East Farmingdale, New York

... York. As of the 2000 census, the town had a total population of 5,400. Geography East Farmingdale is located at 40°43'30" North, 73°25'34" West (40.725061, ...

This page was created in 39.7 ms