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When Did the Olympics Start?

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Quick Answer

The first Olympics were the ancient Grecian games held in 776 BCE, which means Before Common Era. The games were stopped in 393 CE, which means Common Era, and didn't start again until 1896.

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When Did the Olympics Start?
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Full Answer

The first Olympics were a pagan religious festival that took place at Zeus' shrine in Olympia, Greece. The pagan roots of the games were why they were ended in 393 CE by Emperor Theodosius I. Fascination with the ancient Greek culture during the Renaissance era led to the games starting again in the late 19th century. Pierre de Coubertin was the man behind the reawakened Olympic games at that time.

Ancient Olympics in Olympia
The ancient Olympic games were held in the region of the western Peloponnese called Olympia. Peloponnese was called the island of Pelops in Greek mythology. Pelops was the founder of the original Olympic games. Natural beauty surrounded the sporting arenas, temples and shrines on the island. In addition to hosting the ancient Olympic games, Olympia was used for religious ceremonies and political events. The first Olympic games were timed to coincide with religious events enjoyed by Zeus' cult of followers. They were not, however, part of the religious festivities. Instead, they showed the physical prowess of the athletes, and audiences enjoyed watching the athletic performances. These early games were such an important part of Greek culture that they were used to measure time. The games were held every four years, and the four year time periods became known as Olympiads.

The Awakening of the Modern Olympics
Athletes from 14 different nations participated in the first modern Olympic games. The first modern Olympics were held in Athens, Greece in 1896. A total of 241 athletes competed in 43 different events. Greece put a special emphasis on the importance of the marathon because of its historical significance in the culture. A Greek athlete named Spyridon Louis won the marathon with a lead of over seven minutes over the rest of the runners. AlfrÌÄå©d Hajos, a Hungarian swimmer, won two contests, the 100 meter and 1,200 meter events. An American athlete named James Connolly claimed the honor of being the first Olympic champion in over 1,500 years when he won the event called the triple jump. Connolly also won the second place spot in the high jump event, and he took third place in the long jump event.

The International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee plays an important role in the success of today's Olympic games. The Olympic Games are held as two separate events, with summer Olympics and winter Olympics alternating every two years, as noted by the History Channel. The committee takes on the task of organizing the games. The Olympics as a movement has three main parts. Those parts are the IOC, the International Federations and the National Olympic Committees. These three parts work together to promote peace and encourage peace among young athletes. Sports are used to help athletes engage in their fields without discrimination. Friendship, forming a strong and cohesive unit and practicing fair play are the cornerstones of the organization's philosophy. There are several other important tenets practiced by the Olympic committee. These include supporting women's athletics, fighting commercial exploitation of athletes and helping make people aware of environmental issues.

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