The Creation of the Modern Olympic Games
The important thing in these Olympiads is
Hello I'm Milo for About.com and today we're talking about the creation of the modern Olympic games. Throughout much of the 19th century, a number of suggestions were raised with regards to reviving the concept of the Ancient Olympic Games in a modern context, with varying degrees of success. Two of these attempts can broadly claim to have been pivotal to a full revival. In Greece, interest in the idea of restoring the Olympic Games was starting to gain traction, and on November 15th 1859, after considerable political wrangling, Athens saw its first forerunner of the Olympics since the demise of the ancient games way back in 394AD. Further games were held in 1870 and 1875 at the newly-rebuilt Panathenaic Stadium, but there was very little similarity to the international event of today, as all of the athletes were exclusively of Greek descent. Meanwhile, in the small village of Much Wenlock in England, an “Olympian Class” was created in 1850 by Dr. William Penny Brookes.Brookes' vision dictated that the event should not be based on social class, and his games continued over the following years, most notably attracting the attention of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who today is considered to be the father of the modern Olympic Games as we know them. Coubertin was invited to the Much Wenlock games of 1890, a visit that inspired him on to ultimately create the International Olympic Committee, and in June 1894 at its first congress, the IOC made the decision to hold the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 at the Panathenaic stadium in Athens, newly restored for the occasion. Of course, the scale of games was much smaller than we are used to today, with just 245 athletes from 14 nations taking part, but they were broadly declared a massive success. However, the success of the 1896 event was short-lived, and both the 1900 Paris, and the 1904 St Louis games suffered serious organizational problems. Both games were incorporated into the framework of existing International Expositions and each lasted an incredible 5 months with many athletes competing individually rather than under the flag of their respective nations. Faced with the prospect of the newly-reignited Olympic flame fading so soon, Pierre de Coubertin vowed never again to mix the games with an Exposition, and the following games in London in 1908 successfully set the tone for the future. Competitor numbers had swollen to just over 2000, and the games became a magnet for athletes around the world. Although, perhaps most importantly, the Olympic ideals that we take for granted today were first encapsulated at the 1908 games in the words of the Bishop of Pennsylvania who famously said “The important thing in these Olympiads is not so much winning as taking part.” For more excellent, insightful, and interesting information on the 20th Century, check us out at About.com.