.. a single race of 200 yards, approximately the length of the stadium”(Gorman 84) The race was called the “Stade” from which our word “stadium” was derived. The first recorded victor in 776 B.C. was “Coroebus of Elis, a cook”(Gorman 84). The athletes of Elis maintained an unbroken string of victories until the 14th Olympiad at which time a second race of two lengths of the stadium was added. In the 15th Olympiad, an endurance event was added in which the athletes “went 12 times around the stadium, about 4 1/2 kilometers”(Gorman 85).
The athletes competed in groups of four, which were determined by “drawing lots with the winners meeting the other winners until a final race was run”(Gorman 86). In 708 B.C., the Pentathlon and Wrestling events were introduced. In 688 B.C., Boxing; in 680 the Four Horse Chariot Race; in 648 the Pancration (a fierce combination of boxing and wrestling), and in 580 the Armed Race where the men traversed the stadium twice while heavily armed. In the pentathlon, those who jumped a certain distance qualified for the spear throwing; the four best then sprinted the length of the stadium, the three best then threw the discus, and the two best then engaged in a wrestling match to the finish. The early rewards were “simple crowns of wild olive, but, by the 61st Olympiad, it was permitted in Olympia to erect statues in honor of the victors”(Gary 72). However, the athletes had to win three times before the statues could be made in their likeness. Later, it was often the practice to make “a breach in the walls of the city through which the victorious athletes returned”(Gary 73).
In the fifth century before the Common Era, the Games reached their climax; and they were already showing their first sign of decay. Trying for records and specialization claimed the interest of the crowd. The invasion of the Macedonians put an end to the Greek city-states and, relieved of the political controversies, they devoted themselves entirely to the Olympic Games. Instead of training their growing youth like the Greeks, they merely hired athletes and nationalized them. During the middle of the second century before the Common Era, Greece came under the domination of the Romans, who permitted the Games to continue but they had little interest in them.
Centuries passed and the Games still continued but the high Olympic ideals were entirely discarded and profit alone provided the incentive. In “393 A.D., the Emperor Theodosius forbade the Games altogether”(Gorman 102) but they had survived a period of “nearly 300 Olympiads or approximately 1200 years”(Gary 78). Full credit for the revival of the Olympic Games in the modern era must go to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who was “born in Paris, Jan. 1, 1863 and who died at Geneva, Sept. 2, 1937″(Gary 89). Very early in life he showed a taste for the study of “literature, history, and the problems of education and sociology”(Gary 90). At the age of 17 he began to scrutinise the weaknesses of his people who were trying to recover hope and self-respect following the Franco-Prussian War.
He concluded that “three monarchies, two empires, and three republics during a single century are not indicative of stability in the French character”(Gary 92). The solution, he believed rested in the development of the individual. Coubertin had sufficient means to travel, he therefore visited England and America where he studied organised athletics conducted by students. He observed that “competing for a place on an athletic team developed qualities of character whereas the attitude in French schools was that games destroyed study”(Gorman 118). He was convinced that he should devote his entire time and energy to securing a reform in his own country. He decided to start at the bottom because, as he expressed it, “the foundation of real human morality lies in mutual respect-and to respect one another it is necessary to know one another”(Gary 92) Coubertin was not an athlete but he chose athletics as his field. The first major sport with which he associated himself was rowing, but when he attempted to bring the British oarsmen to France or send the French oarsmen to compete at Henley, he found that the “British and French conceptions of amateurism were not the same”(Gorman 120).
This gave him the idea of bringing together educators, diplomats, and sports leader for the purpose of developing a universal understanding of amateurism so that the athletes of all nations might meet on an equal basis. Coubertin realized that to capture the attention of disinterested persons he would have to originate something spectacular. He began to dream of a revival of the Olympic Games. At a meeting of the Athletic Sports Union at Sorbonne in Paris, Nov. 25, 1892, be first publicly announced the Olympic Games idea. Speaking at the conference, Coubertin said, “Let us export oarsmen, runners, fencers; there is the free trade of the future-and on the day when it shall take place among the customs of Europe the cause of peace will have received a new and powerful support”(Gorman 125). However, his proposal to revive the Olympic Games went for naught as his auditors failed to grasp the significance of the idea.
His next opportunity came in the spring of 1894 at an international congress which he had assembled for the purpose of studying the questions of amateurism. At this meeting, official delegates from France, England, the United States, Greece, Russia, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, and Spain, were in attendance. Hungary, Germany, Bohemia, Holland and Australia sent proxies or letters. Seven questions concerning the problem of amateurism were on the agenda and Coubertin took the liberty of adding an eighth, “Regarding the possibility of the revival of the Olympic Games”(Gorman 125). Coubertin imparted his enthusiasm so well that it was “unanimously agreed on June 23, 1894 to revive the Games and an International Committee was formed to look after their development and well-being”(Gorman 130). Two years later in 1896 Greece celebrated in the rebuilt stadium of Athens the first Olympic Games of the present cycle and from this beginning, the world’s greatest athletic spectacle was established.
Only the ceaseless labor, the tenacity and the perseverance of Baron de Coubertin accomplished and perfected this great work. Its main organization benefited from his methodical and precise mind and from his wide understanding of the aspirations and needs of youth. In fact, Coubertin was “the sole director of the Games in regards to their form and character; the Olympic Charter and Protocol and the athlete’s oath were his creation, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games”(Gary 95). In addition, until 1925, he personally presided over the IOC, assuming single-handed all the administrative and financial duties. The work of Coubertin was, above all, a work of peace but there is one basic fact, almost universally misunderstood which is that peace is not the major aim of the Olympic Games.
“Peace,” Coubertin hoped and believed, “would be furthered by the Olympic Games . . . but peace could be the product only of a better world; a better world could be brought about only by better individuals; and better individuals could be developed only by the give and take, the buffeting and battering, the stress and strain of fierce competition.” Although they were founded as part of a vision of world peace, once the modern Olympic Games became a truly important international event they also became a stage for political disputes. The most controversial Olympics were the Berlin Games of 1936.
The IOC had voted in 1931 to hold these Games in Berlin, before IOC members could have known that the Nazi movement would soon control the country. When it became known in the early 1930s that under the rule of the Nazis, German Jewish athletes were being barred from the 1936 German team which was in violation of the Olympic Charter, many Americans demanded a boycott of the 1936 Games. The boycott movement failed because Avery Brundage, head of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) at the time, was convinced by German officials that “Jewish athletes would be permitted to try out for the German team”(Gary122). In fact, only two Jewish athletes were named to the 1936 German Olympic team, and both were of mixed religious backgrounds. There have been several boycotts of the Olympics by various countries.
In 1956 the Egyptian, Lebanese, and Iraqi teams boycotted the Melbourne Games to protest the invasion of Egypt by the United Kingdom, France, and Israel that had occurred earlier that year. Major boycotts of the Olympics occurred in 1976, 1980, and 1984. In 1976 many African nations demanded that New Zealand be excluded from the Montreal Games because its rugby team had played against South Africa, then under the rule of supporters of apartheid, the official policy of racial segregation followed in that country from 1948 to the early 1990s. When the IOC resisted the demands of the African countries with the argument that rugby was not an Olympic sport, athletes from 28 African nations were called home by their governments. The issue in the 1980 boycott of the Moscow Games was the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 by the USSR.
Although American President Jimmy Carter forced the USOC to “refuse the invitation to attend the Moscow Games, many other NOCs defied their governments’ requests that they boycott the Games”(Gary 124). Once Carter acted to spoil the Moscow Games and after “62 nations did boycott the Games” it became clear that the USSR and its allies would retaliate with another boycott at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. Although Romania did send a team to Los Angeles, 16 of the USSR’s other allies boycotted the Los Angeles Games. From the 1940s to the 1980s, the IOC also had to deal with the political problems caused by divided nations. One example was the dilemma concerning the Chinese Olympic team, which developed in 1949 after the political division of China into the People’s Republic of China on the mainland and the Republic of China on the island of Taiwan. The issue was whether the Chinese people would be represented by a team from the mainland or by a team from Taiwan.
In 1952 the IOC decided to invite both Chinas, but this decision led to decades of boycott by the government of mainland China, which did not send a team to the Olympics until the Lake Placid Games in 1980. Another political issue arose in 1949, because of the formal political division of Germany that year into East Germany and West Germany. This division created the question of whether there was to be one German team or two. The IOC tried to solve this problem by insisting on a combined German team. Negotiations lasted several years, and this solution was first tested at the Melbourne Games in 1956; it lasted until the Munich Games in 1972, for which two teams were formed. There continued to be two German teams until 1992, by which time the countries had reunited.
The IOC also had to cope with racial segregation in South Africa. The IOC voted in 1968 to exclude the South African team from Olympic competition in order to bring pressure on the government to give up its policy of apartheid. The South Africans were not readmitted until the Barcelona Games in 1992-by which time apartheid had been discontinued. Violence has also occurred at the Olympic Games. In the midst of the 1972 Munich Games, the Olympic movement experienced its most tragic hour. A band of Palestinian terrorists made their way into the Olympic village, murdered two members of the Israeli team, and took nine hostages. When the IOC, meeting in emergency session, learned that a gunfight had broken out and that all nine hostages were dead, along with five of the terrorists, the Games were suspended for a day.
The IOC’s controversial decision to resume the Games that year was endorsed by the Israeli government. Having survived a century of warfare and political turmoil, the Olympic Games have become very successful in recent years, gaining more popularity and generating more money than ever before. A great deal of this popularity and wealth is due to the development of satellite communications and global telecasts. Not only can more and more people see the Games, but the opportunity developed to sell television rights to the Games for hundreds of millions of dollars. With their share of this income, organizing committees can now stage spectacular Games without fear of the huge indebtedness incurred by Montreal’s organizing committee in 1976. With more money, the IOC can also subsidize the development of sports in less affluent nations. In return for their money, however, television networks have gained a strong influence on when, where, and how the Olympics will take place.
The Olympic movement has also become dependent on multinational corporations, who pay millions of dollars to become official sponsors of the game and to use Olympic symbols in their advertisements which has led to the mass commercialization of the Olympic movement. However Pierre de Coubertin’s dream has lasted over 25 Olympiads and will no doubt continue remain in the hearts of the world with the Olympic ideals carrying on well into the future. The Games of the Olympiads and The Cities of the Olympic Games Summer Winter I 1896 Athens, Greece II 1900 Paris, France III 1904 St. Louis, USA IV 1908 London, England V 1912 Stockholm, Sweden VI 1916 Cancelled due to W.W.I VII 1920 Antwerp, Belgium VIII 1924 Paris, France 1924 I Chamonix, France IX 1928 Amsterdam, The Netherlands 1928 II St. Moritz, Switzerland X 1932 Los Angeles, USA 1932 III Lake Placid, USA XI 1936 Berlin, Germany 1936 IV Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany XII 1940 Cancelled due to W.W.II 1940 Cancelled due to W.W.II XIII 1944 Cancelled due to W.W.II 1944 Cancelled due to W.W.II XIV 1948 London, England 1948 V St.
Moritz, Switerland XV 1952 Helsinki, Finland 1952 VI Oslo, Norway XVI 1956 Melbourne, Australia 1956 VII Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy XVII 1960 Rome, Italy 1960 VIII Squaw Valley, U.S.A. XVIII 1964 Tokyo, Japan 1964 IX Innsbruck, Austria XIX 1968 Mexico City, Mexico 1968 X Grenoble, France XX 1972 Munich, Germany 1972 XI Sapporo, Japan XXI 1976 Montreal, Canada 1976 XII Innsbruck, Austria XXII 1980 Moscow U.S.S.R 1980 XIII Lake Placid, U.S.A. XXIII 1984 Los Angeles, USA 1984 XIV Sarajevo, Yugoslavia XXIV 1988 Seoul, South Korea 1988 XV Calgary, Canada XXV 1992 Barcelona, Spain 1992 XVI Albertville, France XXVI 1996 Atlanta U.S.A 1994 XVII Lillehammer, Norway XXVII 2000 Sydney, Australia 1998 XVIII Nagano, Japan Bibliography Gary, Austin. (1986). Development of the Olympic Games.
New York: Houghton-Mifflin. Gorman, David. (1998) A Detailed Account of the Olympic Games. New York: Basic Books. Miller, Andrew. (1994). Olympic Stories. London: Sage Publishers.