Olympia

Olympia


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Olympia was a vibrant Ancient Greek city. It is believed that the site of Olympia was inhabited from 3000 BC, however it was after the fall of the Mycenaean civilisation that the city began to flourish and, by 900 BC it was already considered an important religious site.

Olympia history

In 776 BC the first Olympic Games were held in the city in honour of the Greek deity, Zeus. The games at Olympia were a national event and attracted participants and spectators from around the country, raising Olympia’s status. They would continue until 394 AD when Roman Emperor Theodosius I, seeing them as a “pagan cult”, put them to an end.

Over time, the city began to develop and grow. Today the result of this gradual growth can be seen at Olympia through sites such as the Treasuries, the Temple of Hera, both of religious importance and contained in the sacred precinct known as the Altis and the Pelopion, the supposed tomb of the mythical Pelops. These were built in around 600BC.

Even the stadium in which the Olympic Games were played was upgraded, a purpose built area being built in around 560 BC and able to seat approximately 50,000 people. The remains of this impressive stadium are still visible today.

Olympia reached its peak during the classical period and it was at this time that many of the other sites which can be seen there now were built, most notably the Temple of Zeus. This was a vast religious structure the ruins of which were located in the Altis area.

The Temple of Zeus was later entirely destroyed, first by fire and then in an earthquake. Archaeologists were however able to excavate several sculptures and artefacts believed to have originated from the building, which are now on show at the nearby Olympia Archaeological Museum.

Other impressive sites at Olympia were built later during the Hellenistic Period. These include the remains of the 4th century BC Philippeion memorial, dedicated to King Philip II of Macedon and his family (which included Alexander the Great, Philip’s son).

There are also several other impressive sites, many of them built during the Roman period.

Olympia today

Olympia is well signposted, making it easy to tour the site and understand how it might have looked in its heyday. If you want to know more about Olympia, you can visit the Olympia Archaeological Museum.

The ancient stadium is one of the must see attractions, with many visitors testing their speed in running races to this day. It was here that the shot put event was held, during the 2004 Olympic Games.

There is also a Museum of the History of the Olympic Games at Olympia.

Getting to Olympia

Reaching Olympia from Athens takes roughly 4 hours by car. Buses also run between Olympia and the Greek capital, although one day tours are not feasible given the distance.

Olympia is roughly 2 hours drive from Patras and 2 hours drive from Tripoli in the Central Peloponnese.

Parking is available at the site.


Olympia

Located in the western Peloponnese, Olympia was an ancient Greek sanctuary site dedicated to the worship of Zeus, in whose honour the Pan-Hellenic Olympic Games were held every four years from 776 BCE to 393 CE. Olympia is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

First inhabited in the second millennium BCE, the first archaeological record of dwellings dates from 1900 to 1600 BCE. The Kronion hill at the site was perhaps the first place of worship, dedicated to Kronos. However, other sacred buildings at the foot of the hill in the sacred grove of wild olive trees, or Altis, indicate other deities were worshipped such as Gaia, Themis, Aphrodite, and Pelops. With the descent of western Greek tribes into the Peloponnese, though, it was Zeus, father of the Olympian gods, who would become the dominant cult figure at Olympia.

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The first large building on the site was the Heraion, a temple dedicated to Hera built around 650-600 BCE. In the 5th century BCE the sanctuary reached its peak of prosperity, and a massive Doric 6 x 13 column temple was completed in 457 BCE in order to house a hug e cult statue of Zeus. Designed by Libon of Elis, the temple was the biggest in Greece at that time and measured 64.12 m x 27.68 m with columns 10.53 m in height. The pediments of the temple displayed magnificent sculpture: on the east side the mythical chariot race between Pelops and Oinomaos, and on the western pediment a Centauromachy with the majestic central figure of Apollo. Metopes from the temple represented the labours of Hercules. The statue of Zeus within the temple was by Phidias (who had worked on the Parthenon and its statue of Athena) and was a 12 m high gold and ivory representation of Zeus seated on a throne and regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Other important building projects over the centuries included baths and a swimming pool (5th century BCE), the new stadium with embankments for spectators (mid-4th century BCE), a palaistra (3rd century BCE), a gymnasion (2nd century BCE), hippodrome (780 m long), the large Leonidaion or guest houses (330 BCE), and the Theikoloi (priest's residence).

Sporting events were originally associated with funeral rituals, for example the funeral games instigated by Achilles in honour of Patroklos in Homer's Iliad. Some mythological accounts credit Zeus with beginning the Games to celebrate his victory over Kronos other accounts state Pelops began them in honour of Oinomaos. In any case, sport, a healthy body and the competitive spirit were a large part of Greek education, and so it is hardly surprising that organised athletic competitions would at some point be created.

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The first Olympic Games were held in 776 BCE at the first full moon after the summer solstice. The winner of the first and only event, the stadion foot-race (one length of the stadium track, 600 feet or 192 m), was Koroibos of Elis, and from then on every victor was recorded and each Olympiad named after them, thus giving us the first accurate chronology of the Greek world. During a three month Pan-Hellenic truce, athletes and as many as 40,000 spectators came from all over Greece to participate in the Games. Individuals and city-states brought offerings to Zeus which included money, statues (including the magnificent Nike of Paionios, c. 424 BCE, and the Hermes of Praxiteles, late 4th century BCE), bronze tripods, shields, helmets, and weapons resulting in Olympia becoming a living museum of Greek art and culture. Many cities also built treasuries - small but impressive buildings to house their offerings and raise the prestige of their city.

Over time other events were added to the Games such as longer foot-races, wrestling, boxing, chariot racing, discus, javelin, jumping, and the pentathlon. At its peak there were 18 events spread over five days. However, it was always the original stadion which remained the most important event. Victors won crowns of olive leaves and an olive branch cut from the scared grove, but much more importantly they won glory, fame, and in a very real sense historical immortality.

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A second important event held at Olympia was the Heraia Games for women, held every four years in honour of the goddess, Hera. Children, adolescents, and young women ran in separate foot-races over 500 feet of the stadium track (160 m). Prizes for victors included olive crowns and the right to set up a portrait of themselves on the site. The responsibility for the organisation of both Games and for maintenance of the site when not in use lay with the Eleans.

The Games continued through the Hellenistic period with the notable architectural addition of the Philippeion, a circular colonnaded building erected by Philip II of Macedonia which contained gold statues of the royal family (c. 338 BCE). The Romans, whilst giving little importance to the religious significance of the Games, continued to hold them in high regard and despite the attempt by Sulla in 80 BCE to permanently move the Games to Rome, continued to embellish Olympia with new buildings, heated baths, fountains (notably the Nymphaion of Herodes Atticus, 150 CE), and statues. Most famously, emperor Nero strove to win the glory of Olympic victory in 67 CE, competing in, and unsurprisingly winning, every event he entered.

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With Emperor Theodosios' decree to prohibit all cult practices, the Games came to an end in 393 CE after a run of 293 Olympics over more than a millennium. The site gradually fell into decline, was partially destroyed under the decree of emperor Theodosios II in 426 CE, and was taken over by a Christian community who built a basilica on the site in the early Byzantine period. Earthquakes in 522 and 551 CE destroyed much of the remaining ruins, and silt from the nearby rivers Alpheios and Kladeos eventually covered the site until its rediscovery in 1829 CE by the French Archaeological Mission and systematic excavation by the German Archaeological Institute from 1875 CE.


Olympia - History

Olympia is one of the most famous paintings of renowned painter Édouard Manet. The masterpiece is an oil painting done on canvas. The dimensions of the paintings are 51 by 74.8 inches. The Olympia was painted in 1863 and was obtained by France in 1890. It is currently displayed in Musée d’Orsay, Paris.

Manet and Controversies

Manet’s works became synonymous with being controversial. His previous work The Luncheon on the Grass had created uproar. His new painting called Olympia was first displayed in 1865. It created a much bigger furor, since conformist and conservatives of the then society were aghast at the brazen nudity depicted in the painting. It was promptly labeled as being obscenely vulgar.

The work of art was first exhibited in Paris Salon. The administration there had to take extra safety measures to keep the hardliners from destroying it. However, not everyone was against Manet’s work. He had supporters too who appreciated his painting of the nude woman as a form of the artist’s representation of the real world.

Reason for Disdain

The audience of that time could not digest the unabashed exposé that Manet had painted. It was not so much the nudity that appalled people. The viewers were scandalized by the brazen look the artist gave the woman. It bears more of a challenging stare, that of a courtesan’s, which people could not want to relate to. The entire depiction was bold, and a little too much to accept by the conservative society of the 19th century.

The Painting

Olympia is as everyone knows a nude painting. The artist had not made any attempt to cover up the nakedness. He perhaps wanted to dramatize the effect because right next to the naked woman stands a fully dressed maid. The artist has in fact created a stark contrast which is glaring and makes the nudity more apparent. A number of details in the painting point that the model chosen by Manet was a courtesan.

The woman who is fully undressed is shown lying on an oriental stole on a couch. A maid stands next to her with a big bouquet of flowers. The look on the maids face is interestingly normal. There is no sense of discomfort to be standing next to a naked woman who is obviously posing for the painting in the nude. This is of interest as the society back then was not as liberated as we find it today.

The model wears an orchid in her hair. There is a black cord around her neck, which highlights her pale skin. A bracelet and pearl earrings are her other adornments. She wears a blue strapped slipper on one foot as the other lies carelessly removed.

The subject’s hand covers her private parts even though her breasts are exposed. There is not a hint of awkwardness as she poses in the nude. It seems obvious she feels her supremacy over everyone around. The black cat is symbolic of the woman’s profession which is prostitution.

In its style Manet’s Olympia digresses from the theoretical standard. He used wide brushstrokes instead of soft color tones used by his contemporaries for painting nudes. Olympia is still appreciated as a fine work of art.


Olympia - History

From boxing contests with no weight classifications or point scoring to chariot racing where danger lurked on every corner, it is easy to see why the Ancient Games enthralled the Greeks for so long. Here, we give you the essential lowdown, highlight our favourite facts.

Full of blood, passion and extraordinary feats of athletic endeavour, the Olympic Games were the sporting, social and cultural highlight of the Ancient Greek calendar for almost 12 centuries.

&ldquoIt is hard for us to exaggerate how important the Olympics were for the Greeks,&rdquo Paul Christesen, Professor of Ancient Greek History at Dartmouth College, USA, said.

&ldquoThe classic example is that when the Persians invaded Greece in the summer of 480 (BC) a lot of the Greek city states agreed that they would put together an allied army but they had a very hard time getting one together because so many people wanted to go to the Olympics. So, they actually had to delay putting the army together to defend the country against the Persians.&rdquo

The threat of invasion or not, the Games took place every four years from 776BC to at least 393AD. All free Greek males were allowed to take part, from farmhands to royal heirs, although the majority of Olympians were soldiers. Women could not compete or even attend. There was, however, a loophole to this misogynistic rule &ndash chariot owners, not riders, were declared Olympic champions and anyone could own a chariot. Kyniska, daughter of a Spartan king, took advantage of this, claiming victory wreaths in 396BC and 392BC.

At their heart, the Games were a religious festival and a good excuse for Greeks from all over the Mediterranean basin to gather for a riotous barbeque. On the middle day of the festival a vast number of cows were slaughtered in honour of Zeus, King of the Greek Gods &ndash once he had been given a small taste, the rest was for the people.

For the first 250-plus years all the action took place in the sanctuary of Olympia, situated in the north-western Peloponnese. Pock-marked by olive trees, from which the victory wreaths were cut, and featuring an altar to Zeus, it was a hugely scared spot.

The Games lasted a full five days by the fifth century BC and saw running, jumping and throwing events plus boxing, wrestling, pankration and chariot racing. At least 40,000 spectators would have packed the stadium each day at the height of the Games&rsquo popularity, in the second century AD, with many more selling their wares outside.


Olympia - History

Mythology

The Olympic Games in Antiquity

The Sports Events
As a sacred place used regularly in religious ceremonies, as well as playing host to the Ancient Games, Olympia was at the centre of Greek civilisation. Renowned expert Paul Christesen gives Olympic.org a unique insight into Olympia and how the site changed as the Games grew.

&ldquoAt its heart the Ancient Olympic Games was a religious festival held in a religious sanctuary,&rdquo Paul Christesen, professor of Ancient Greek History at Dartmouth College, USA, explained.

As Christesen went on to say, &ldquoit was not just a matter of playing sports&rdquo. And central to this concept was the site itself. Olympia lay on the north-western corner of the Peloponnese (currently in the Western Greece Region).

Zeus, King of the Greek Gods, was said to have taken up residence in Olympia around 1200BC when the Eleans conquered the surrounding area. The fearsome deity marked his ascension by hurling a thunderbolt into the sacred grove from his home atop Mount Olympus.

The city state of Elis, the administrative centre of which was about a day&rsquos walk north from Olympia, ran the Games throughout the vast majority of its life cycle, with the Eleans seizing full control from their local rivals the Pisatans in 572BC. Despite the stadium accommodating more than 40,000 people during the height of the Games&rsquo popularity in the second century AD, it always remained a deeply rural setting.

&ldquoWe know that they actually planted the stadium with wheat,&rdquo Christesen said. &ldquoIt was a big empty space that wasn&rsquot being used most of the time, so except in the run-up to the Games, when they got it all cleaned up, it was just a wheat field.&rdquo

From the first edition in 776BC until 550BC, the Games took place among the sanctuary itself. The sacred olive tree of Zeus, from which the victory wreaths were cut, marked the finishing line for all races. The first stadium, a simple affair using the natural embankments of the surrounding hills, remained within the deified area too. The discovery of more than 150 wells dating to this time indicates that even this early in the life of the Olympic Games, they attracted considerable attention.

By the mid fourth century BC the third incarnation of the stadium was built. Spacious and with the look and feel of a more modern venue, spectator attendance grew by around 50%. The position of the stadium had been shifted, with events no longer finishing at the altar of Zeus.

However, the site lost none of its religious potency during the vast majority of the 1000-plus years of the Ancient Games, its diversity being key to its survival.

&ldquoThe Greeks were aggressively polytheistic,&rdquo said Christesen. &ldquoSo while Olympia is a sanctuary to Zeus we know that he wasn&rsquot the only deity worshipped at the site. There were over 70 different altars, you could sacrifice to pretty much anyone you wanted to.&rdquo

While the Eleans maintained a permanent presence at Olympia, conducting monthly sacrifices, the site turned, for one week per year, from an essentially peaceful idyll into the mad, riotous centre of Greece.

&ldquoAnyone who wanted to get a big audience from all over the Greek world showed up in Olympia. Painters, artists, orators all went there to put their wares on display,&rdquo Christesen said.

&ldquoWe know there was total chaos for a week because anyone who wanted to raise their profile, this was the place and time to do it.&rdquo

The fourth incarnation of the stadium came in the first century as, fuelled by the return of chariot racing to the programme in AD17, the popularity of the Games soared. Interest reached a pinnacle in the following century and the fifth and final renovation took place.

Throughout these reincarnations the length of the track in the stadium remained constant. Stories abound as to why it always measured 600ft/192.2m, with the most enchanting being that this was the distance the hero Hercules could run on a single breath.

As well as competition, training took place at Olympia. At first this happened outdoors but during the Hellenistic period (323BC-31BC) the palestra and the gymnasium were built. Home to practitioners of wrestling, boxing, pankration and the long jump, the palestra&rsquos main feature was a large, square inner-courtyard. It was flanked by colonnades and had an extensive bathing system in the adjoining rooms. The gymnasium was an elongated rectangle with space for both the javelin and discus throwers to do their thing. Both buildings were centres of intellectual debate and learning, with philosophers and teachers taking advantage of the shade and abundance of young minds.

By the Roman period these training facilities, along with the rest of the site, had, quite apart from the religious aspect, become a year-round tourist attraction.

&ldquoPeople put up big fancy artworks and dedications, so it became a famous site to go see Greek art,&rdquo Christesen said. &ldquoCertainly by the Roman period there were people making a living as guides to the site.&rdquo


The ancient Olympic Games

Just how far back in history organized athletic contests were held remains a matter of debate, but it is reasonably certain that they occurred in Greece almost 3,000 years ago. However ancient in origin, by the end of the 6th century bce at least four Greek sporting festivals, sometimes called “classical games,” had achieved major importance: the Olympic Games, held at Olympia the Pythian Games at Delphi the Nemean Games at Nemea and the Isthmian Games, held near Corinth. Later, similar festivals were held in nearly 150 cities as far afield as Rome, Naples, Odessus, Antioch, and Alexandria.

Of all the games held throughout Greece, the Olympic Games were the most famous. Held every four years between August 6 and September 19, they occupied such an important place in Greek history that in late antiquity historians measured time by the interval between them—an Olympiad. The Olympic Games, like almost all Greek games, were an intrinsic part of a religious festival. They were held in honour of Zeus at Olympia by the city-state of Elis in the northwestern Peloponnese. The first Olympic champion listed in the records was Coroebus of Elis, a cook, who won the sprint race in 776 bce . Notions that the Olympics began much earlier than 776 bce are founded on myth, not historical evidence. According to one legend, for example, the Games were founded by Heracles, son of Zeus and Alcmene.


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The United States has hosted the Summer Olympic Games four times: the 1904 Games were held in St. Louis, Missouri the 1932 and 1984 Games were both held in Los Angeles, California, and the 1996 Games were held in Atlanta, Georgia. The 2028 Games in Los Angeles will mark the fifth occasion on which the Summer Games have been hosted by the U.S.

In 2012, the United Kingdom hosted its third Summer Olympic Games in London, which became the first city ever to have hosted the Summer Olympic Games three times. The cities of Los Angeles, Paris, and Athens have each hosted two Summer Olympic Games. In 2024, France will host its third Summer Olympic Games in its capital, making Paris the second city ever to have hosted three Summer Olympics. And in 2028, Los Angeles will in turn become the third city ever to have hosted the Games three times.

Australia, France, Germany and Greece have all hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice. The IOC selected Tokyo, Japan, to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, when it would have become the first city outside the Western world to have hosted the Summer Olympics more than once, having already hosted the Games in 1964. The other countries to have hosted the Summer Olympics are Belgium, Brazil, China, Canada, Finland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Soviet Union, and Sweden, with each of these countries having hosted the Summer Games on just one occasion.

Asia has hosted the Summer Olympics just three times: in Tokyo (1964), Seoul (1988), and Beijing (2008). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which was to be the second time that the city had hosted, were postponed to twelve months from the original scheduled date. Tokyo will be the first city outside the predominantly English-speaking and European nations which usually host the games to have hosted the Summer Olympics twice [3] it will also be the largest city ever to have hosted, having grown considerably since 1964.

The 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, were the first Summer Olympics to be held in South America and the first that was held completely during the local "winter" season. The only two countries in the Southern Hemisphere to have hosted the Summer Olympics have been Australia (1956 and 2000) and Brazil (2016), with Africa having yet to host any Summer Olympics.

Stockholm, Sweden, has hosted events at two Summer Olympics, having been sole host of the 1912 Games, and hosting the equestrian events at the 1956 Summer Olympics (which they are credited as jointly hosting with Melbourne, Australia). [4] Amsterdam, Netherlands, has also hosted events at two Summer Olympic Games, having been sole host of the 1928 Games and previously hosting two of the sailing races at the 1920 Summer Olympics. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Hong Kong provided the venues for the equestrian events, which took place in Sha Tin and Kwu Tung.

Early years Edit

The International Olympic Committee was founded in 1894 when Pierre de Coubertin, a French pedagogue and historian, sought to promote international understanding through sporting competition. The first edition of The Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896 and attracted just 245 competitors, of whom more than 200 were Greek, and only 14 countries were represented. Nevertheless, no international events of this magnitude had been organised before. Female athletes were not allowed to compete, though one woman, Stamata Revithi, ran the marathon course on her own, saying "If the committee doesn't let me compete I will go after them regardless". [5]

The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in Athens, Greece, from 6 to 15 April 1896. It was the first Olympic Games held in the Modern era. About 100,000 people attended for the opening of the games. The athletes came from 14 nations, with most coming from Greece. Although Greece had the most athletes, the U.S. finished with the most champions. 11 Americans placed first in their events vs. the 10 from Greece. [6] Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, consequently Athens was perceived to be an appropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games. It was unanimously chosen as the host city during a congress organised by Pierre de Coubertin in Paris, on 23 June 1894. The IOC was also established during this congress.

Despite many obstacles and setbacks, the 1896 Olympics were regarded as a great success. The Games had the largest international participation of any sporting event to that date. Panathinaiko Stadium, the first big stadium in the modern world, overflowed with the largest crowd ever to watch a sporting event. [7] The highlight for the Greeks was the marathon victory by their compatriot Spiridon Louis, a water carrier. He won in 2 hours 58 minutes and 50 seconds, setting off wild celebrations at the stadium. The most successful competitor was German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann, who won four gold medals.

Greek officials and the public were enthusiastic about the experience of hosting an Olympic Games. This feeling was shared by many of the athletes, who even demanded that Athens be the permanent Olympic host city. The IOC intended for subsequent Games to be rotated to various host cities around the world. The second Olympics was held in Paris. [8]

Four years later the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris attracted more than four times as many athletes, including 20 women, who were allowed to officially compete for the first time, in croquet, golf, sailing, and tennis. The Games were integrated with the Paris World's Fair and lasted over 5 months. It is still disputed which events exactly were Olympic, since few or maybe even none of the events were advertised as such at the time.

Tensions caused by the Russo–Japanese War and the difficulty of getting to St. Louis may have contributed to the fact that very few top-ranked athletes from outside the US and Canada took part in the 1904 Games. [9]

A series of smaller games were held in Athens in 1906. The IOC does not currently recognise these games as being official Olympic Games, although many historians do. The 1906 Athens games were the first of an alternating series of games to be held in Athens, but the series failed to materialise. The games were more successful than the 1900 and 1904 games, with over 900 athletes competing, and contributed positively to the success of future games.

The 1908 London Games saw numbers rise again, as well as the first running of the marathon over its now-standard distance of 42.195 km (26 miles 385 yards). The first Olympic Marathon in 1896 (a male-only race) was raced at a distance of 40 km (24 miles 85 yards). The new marathon distance was chosen to ensure that the race finished in front of the box occupied by the British royal family. Thus the marathon had been 40 km (24.9 mi) for the first games in 1896, but was subsequently varied by up to 2 km (1.2 mi) due to local conditions such as street and stadium layout. At the six Olympic games between 1900 and 1920, the marathon was raced over six distances. The Games saw Great Britain winning 146 medals, 99 more than second-placed Americans, its best result to this day.

At the end of the 1908 marathon, the Italian runner Dorando Pietri was first to enter the stadium, but he was clearly in distress and collapsed of exhaustion before he could complete the event. He was helped over the finish line by concerned race officials and later disqualified for that. As compensation for the missing medal, Queen Alexandra gave Pietri a gilded silver cup. Arthur Conan Doyle wrote a special report about the race in the Daily Mail. [10]

The Games continued to grow, attracting 2,504 competitors, to Stockholm in 1912, including the great all-rounder Jim Thorpe, who won both the decathlon and pentathlon. Thorpe had previously played a few games of baseball for a fee, and saw his medals stripped for this 'breach' of amateurism after complaints from Avery Brundage. They were reinstated in 1983, 30 years after his death. The Games at Stockholm were the first to fulfil Pierre de Coubertin's original idea. For the first time since the Games started in 1896 were all five inhabited continents represented with athletes competing in the same stadium.

The scheduled 1916 Summer Olympics were cancelled following the onset of World War I.

Interwar era Edit

The 1920 Antwerp games in war-ravaged Belgium were a subdued affair, but again drew a record number of competitors. This record only stood until 1924, when the Paris Games involved 3,000 competitors, the greatest of whom was Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi. The "Flying Finn" won three team gold medals and the individual 1,500 and 5,000 meter runs, the latter two on the same day. [11]

The 1928 Amsterdam games was notable for being the first games which allowed females to compete at track & field athletics, and benefited greatly from the general prosperity of the times alongside the first appearance of sponsorship of the games, from the Coca-Cola Company. The 1928 games saw the introduction of a standard medal design with the IOC choosing Giuseppe Cassioli's depiction of Greek goddess Nike and a winner being carried by a crowd of people. This design was used up until 1972. [ citation needed ]

The 1932 Los Angeles games were affected by the Great Depression, which contributed to the low number of competitors.

The 1936 Berlin Games were seen by the German government as a golden opportunity to promote their ideology. The ruling Nazi Party commissioned film-maker Leni Riefenstahl to film the games. The result, Olympia, was widely considered to be a masterpiece, despite Hitler's theories of Aryan racial superiority being repeatedly shown up by "non-Aryan" athletes. In particular, African-American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens won four gold medals. The 1936 Berlin Games also saw the introduction of the Torch Relay. [12]

Due to World War II, the Games of 1940 (due to be held in Tokyo and temporarily relocated to Helsinki upon the outbreak of war) were cancelled. The Games of 1944 were due to be held in London but were also cancelled instead, London hosted the first games after the end of the war, in 1948.

After World War II Edit

The first post-war Games were held in 1948 in London, with both Germany and Japan excluded. Dutch sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen won four gold medals on the track, emulating Owens' achievement in Berlin.

At the 1952 Games in Helsinki the USSR team competed for the first time and immediately became one of the dominant teams (finishing second both in the number of gold and overall medals won). Soviet immediate success might be explained by the advent of the state-sponsored "full-time amateur athlete". The USSR entered teams of athletes who were all nominally students, soldiers, or working in a profession, but many of whom were in reality paid by the state to train on a full-time basis, hence violating amateur rules. [13] [14] Finland made a legend of an amiable Czechoslovak army lieutenant named Emil Zátopek, who was intent on improving on his single gold and silver medals from 1948. Having first won both the 10,000 and 5,000-meter races, he also entered the marathon, despite having never previously raced at that distance. Pacing himself by chatting with the other leaders, Zátopek led from about halfway, slowly dropping the remaining contenders to win by two and a half minutes, and completed a trio of wins.

The 1956 Melbourne Games were largely successful, barring a water polo match between Hungary and the Soviet Union, which the Soviet invasion of Hungary caused to end as a pitched battle between the teams. Due to a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Britain at the time and the strict quarantine laws of Australia, the equestrian events were held in Stockholm.

At the 1960 Rome Games a young light-heavyweight boxer named Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, arrived on the scene. Ali would later throw his gold medal away in disgust after being refused service in a whites-only restaurant in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky. [15] He was awarded a new medal 36 years later at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Other performers of note in 1960 included Wilma Rudolph, a gold medallist in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4 × 100 meters relay events.

The 1964 Games held in Tokyo are notable for heralding the modern age of telecommunications. These games were the first to be broadcast worldwide on television, enabled by the recent advent of communication satellites. The 1964 Games were thus a turning point in the global visibility and popularity of the Olympics. Judo debuted as an official sport, and Dutch judoka Anton Geesink created quite a stir when he won the final of the open weight division, defeating Akio Kaminaga in front of his home crowd.

Performances at the 1968 Mexico City games were affected by the altitude of the host city. [16] The 1968 Games also introduced the now-universal Fosbury flop, a technique which won American high jumper Dick Fosbury the gold medal. In the medal award ceremony for the men's 200 meter race, black American athletes Tommie Smith (gold) and John Carlos (bronze) took a stand for civil rights by raising their black-gloved fists and wearing black socks in lieu of shoes. They were banned by the IOC. Věra Čáslavská, in protest to the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia and the controversial decision by the judges on the Balance Beam and Floor, turned her head down and away from the Soviet flag whilst the anthem played during the medal ceremony. She returned home as a heroine of the Czechoslovak people but was made an outcast by the Soviet-dominated government.

Politics again intervened at Munich in 1972, with lethal consequences. A Palestinian terrorist group named Black September invaded the Olympic village and broke into the apartment of the Israeli delegation. They killed two Israelis and held 9 others as hostages. The terrorists demanded that Israel release numerous prisoners. When the Israeli government refused their demand, a tense stand-off ensued while negotiations continued. Eventually, the captors, still holding their hostages, were offered safe passage and taken to an airport, where they were ambushed by German security forces. In the firefight that followed, 15 people, including the nine Israeli athletes and five of the terrorists, were killed. After much debate, it was decided that the Games would continue, but proceedings were obviously dominated by these events. [17] Some memorable athletic achievements did occur during these Games, notably the winning of a then-record seven gold medals by United States swimmer Mark Spitz, Lasse Virén (of Finland)'s back-to-back gold in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, and the winning of three gold medals by Soviet gymnastic star Olga Korbut - who achieved a historic backflip off the high bar. Korbut, however, failed to win the all-around, losing to her teammate Ludmilla Tourischeva.

There was no such tragedy in Montreal in 1976, but bad planning and fraud led to the Games' cost far exceeding the budget. The Montreal Games were the most expensive in Olympic history, until the 2014 Winter Olympics, costing over $5 billion (equivalent to $22.03 billion in 2020). For a time, it seemed that the Olympics might no longer be a viable financial proposition. In retrospect, the belief that contractors (suspected of being members of the Montreal Mafia) skimmed large sums of money from all levels of contracts while also profiting from the substitution of cheaper building materials of lesser quality, may have contributed to the delays, poor construction and excessive costs. In 1988, one such contractor, Giuseppe Zappia "was cleared of fraud charges that resulted from his work on Olympic facilities after two key witnesses died before testifying at his trial". [18] There was also a boycott by many African nations to protest against a recent tour of apartheid-run South Africa by the New Zealand national rugby union team. The Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci won the women's individual all-around gold medal with two of four possible perfect scores, this giving birth to a gymnastics dynasty in Romania. She also won two other individual events, with two perfect scores in the balance beam and all perfect scores in the uneven bars. Lasse Virén repeated his double gold in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, making him the first athlete to ever win the distance double twice.

End of the 20th century Edit

Following the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, 66 nations, including the United States, Canada, West Germany, and Japan, boycotted the 1980 games held in Moscow. Eighty nations were represented at the Moscow Games – the smallest number since 1956. The boycott contributed to the 1980 Games being a less publicised and less competitive affair, which was dominated by the host country.

In 1984 the Soviet Union and 13 Soviet allies reciprocated by boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Romania, notably, was one of the nations in the Eastern Bloc that did attend the 1984 Olympics. These games were perhaps the first games of a new era to make a profit. Although a boycott led by the Soviet Union depleted the field in certain sports, 140 National Olympic Committees took part, which was a record at the time. [19] The Games were also the first time mainland China (People's Republic) participated.

According to British journalist Andrew Jennings, a KGB colonel stated that the agency's officers had posed as anti-doping authorities from the IOC to undermine doping tests and that Soviet athletes were "rescued with [these] tremendous efforts". [20] On the topic of the 1980 Summer Olympics, a 1989 Australian study said "There is hardly a medal winner at the Moscow Games, certainly not a gold medal winner, who is not on one sort of drug or another: usually several kinds. The Moscow Games might as well have been called the Chemists' Games." [20]

Documents obtained in 2016 revealed the Soviet Union's plans for a statewide doping system in track and field in preparation for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Dated prior to the country's decision to boycott the Games, the document detailed the existing steroids operations of the programme, along with suggestions for further enhancements. [21] The communication, directed to the Soviet Union's head of track and field, was prepared by Dr. Sergei Portugalov of the Institute for Physical Culture. Portugalov was also one of the main figures involved in the implementation of the Russian doping programme prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics. [21]

The 1988 games, in Seoul, was very well planned but the games were tainted when many of the athletes, most notably men's 100 metres winner Ben Johnson, failed mandatory drug tests. Despite splendid drug-free performances by many individuals, the number of people who failed screenings for performance-enhancing chemicals overshadowed the games.

The 1992 Barcelona Games featured the admittance of players from one of the North American top leagues, the NBA, exemplified by but not limited to US basketball's "Dream Team". The 1992 games also saw the reintroduction to the Games of several smaller European states which had been incorporated into the Soviet Union since World War II. At these games, gymnast Vitaly Scherbo set an inaugural medal record of five individual gold medals at a Summer Olympics, and equaled the inaugural record set by Eric Heiden at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

By then the process of choosing a location for the Games had become a commercial concern there were widespread allegations of corruption potentially affecting the IOC's decision process.

An the Atlanta 1996 Summer Olympics, the highlight was 200 meters runner Michael Johnson annihilating the world record in front of a home crowd. Canadians savoured Donovan Bailey's recording gold medal run in the 100-meter dash. This was popularly felt to be an appropriate recompense for the previous national disgrace involving Ben Johnson. There were also emotional scenes, such as when Muhammad Ali, clearly affected by Parkinson's disease, lit the Olympic torch and received a replacement medal for the one he had discarded in 1960. The latter event took place in the basketball arena. The atmosphere at the Games was marred, however, when a bomb exploded during the celebration in Centennial Olympic Park. In June 2003, the principal suspect in this bombing, Eric Robert Rudolph, was arrested.

The 2000 Summer Olympics was held in Sydney, Australia, and showcased individual performances by local favorite Ian Thorpe in the pool, Briton Steve Redgrave who won a rowing gold medal in an unprecedented fifth consecutive Olympics, and Cathy Freeman, an Indigenous Australian whose triumph in the 400 meters united a packed stadium. Eric "the Eel" Moussambani, a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, received wide media coverage when he completed the 100 meter freestyle swim in by far the slowest time in Olympic history. He nevertheless won the heat as both his opponents had been disqualified for false starts. His female compatriot Paula Barila Bolopa also received media attention for her record-slow and struggling but courageous performance. The Sydney Games also saw the first appearance of a joint North and South Korean contingent at the opening ceremonies, though they competed as different countries. Controversy occurred in the Women's Artistic Gymnastics when the vaulting horse was set to the wrong height during the All-Around Competition.

Start of the 21st century and new millennium Edit

In 2004, the Olympic Games returned to their birthplace in Athens, Greece. At least $7.2 billion was spent on the 2004 Games, including $1.5 billion on security. Michael Phelps won his first Olympic medals, tallying six gold and two bronze medals. Pyrros Dimas, winning a bronze medal, became the most decorated weightlifter of all time with four Olympic medals, three gold and one bronze. Although unfounded reports of potential terrorism drove crowds away from the preliminary competitions at the first weekend of the Olympics (14–15 August 2004), attendance picked up as the Games progressed. A third of the tickets failed to sell, [22] but ticket sales still topped figures from the Seoul and Barcelona Olympics (1988 and 1992). [ citation needed ] IOC President Jacques Rogge characterised Greece's organisation as outstanding and its security precautions as flawless. [23] All 202 NOCs participated at the Athens Games with over 11,000 participants.

The 2008 Summer Olympics was held in Beijing, People's Republic of China. Several new events were held, including the new discipline of BMX for both men and women. Women competed in the steeplechase for the first time. The fencing programme was expanded to include all six events for both men and women previously, women had not been able to compete in team foil or sabre events, although women's team épée and men's team foil were dropped for these Games. Marathon swimming events were added, over the distance of 10 km (6.2 mi). Also, the doubles events in table tennis were replaced by team events. [24] American swimmer Michael Phelps set a record for gold medals at a single Games with eight, and tied the record of most gold medals by a single competitor previously held by both Eric Heiden and Vitaly Scherbo. Another notable star of the Games was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who became the first male athlete ever to set world records in the finals of both the 100 and 200 metres in the same Games. Equestrian events were held in Hong Kong.

London held the 2012 Summer Olympics, becoming the first city to host the Olympic Games three times. In his closing address, Jacques Rogge described the Games as "Happy and glorious". The host nation won 29 gold medals, the best haul for Great Britain since the 1908 Games in London. The United States returned to the top of the medal table after China dominated in 2008. The IOC had removed baseball and softball from the 2012 programme. The London Games were successful on a commercial level because they were the first in history to completely sell out every ticket, with as many as 1 million applications for 40,000 tickets for both the Opening Ceremony and the 100m Men's Sprint Final. Such was the demand for tickets to all levels of each event that there was controversy over seats being set aside for sponsors and National Delegations which went unused in the early days. A system of reallocation was put in place so the empty seats were filled throughout the Games.

Rio de Janeiro in Brazil hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics, becoming the first South American city to host the Olympics, the second Olympic host city in Latin America, after Mexico City in 1968, as well as the third city in the Southern Hemisphere to host the Olympics after Melbourne, Australia, in 1956 and Sydney, Australia, in 2000. The preparation for these Games was overshadowed by controversies, including the political instability of Brazil's federal government the country's economic crisis health and safety concerns surrounding the Zika virus and significant pollution in the Guanabara Bay and a state-sponsored doping scandal involving Russia, which affected the participation of its athletes in the Games. [25]

The 2020 Summer Olympics were originally scheduled to take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. The city will be the fifth in history to host the Games twice, and the first Asian city to have this title. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, the IOC and the Tokyo Organizing Committee announced that the 2020 Games were to be delayed until 2021, marking the first time that the Olympic Games have been postponed. [26] [27]

There has been a total of 42 sports, spanning 55 disciplines, included in the Olympic programme at one point or another in the history of the Games. The schedule has comprised 28 sports for three of the most recent Summer Olympics (2004, 2008, and 2016) the 2012 Games featured 26 sports because of the removal of baseball and softball. [28]

The various Olympic Sports federations are grouped under a common umbrella association, called the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).

Qualification Edit

Qualification rules for each of the Olympic sports are set by the International Sports Federation (IF) that governs that sport's international competition. [29]

For individual sports, competitors typically qualify by attaining a certain place in a major international event or on the IF's ranking list. There is a general rule that a maximum of three individual athletes may represent each nation per competition. National Olympic Committees (NOCs) may enter a limited number of qualified competitors in each event, and the NOC decides which qualified competitors to select as representatives in each event if more have attained the benchmark than can be entered. [29] [30]

Nations most often qualify teams for team sports through continental qualifying tournaments, in which each continental association is given a certain number of spots in the Olympic tournament. Each nation may be represented by no more than one team per competition a team consists of just two people in some sports.

Popularity of Olympic sports Edit

Summer Olympic sports are divided into five categories (A – E) based on popularity, gauged by six criteria: television viewing figures (40%), internet popularity (20%), public surveys (15%), ticket requests (10%), press coverage (10%), and number of national federations (5%). The category of a sport determines the share of Olympic revenue received by that sport's International Federation. [31] [32] Sports that were new to the 2016 Olympics (rugby and golf) have been placed in Category E.

The current categories are:

Cat. No. Sport
A 3 athletics, aquatics, [a] gymnastics
B 5 basketball, cycling, football, tennis, volleyball
C 8 archery, badminton, boxing, judo, rowing, shooting, table tennis, weightlifting
D 9 canoe/kayaking, equestrian, fencing, handball, field hockey, sailing, taekwondo, triathlon, wrestling
E 3 modern pentathlon, golf, rugby
F 6 baseball/softball, breaking, karate, skateboarding, sport climbing, surfing

a Aquatics encompasses artistic swimming, diving, swimming, and water polo.


Olympia - History

Édouard Manet. 1863 C.E. Oil on canvas. Realism, movement towards impressionism

Imperfect, harsh style depicting a woman in a manner that does not fit the classical “ideal” and ethereal image of the body

Flatly painted, poorly contoured, abrupt shift in tonality, lacking depth and washed out

No vanishing point or recognizable perspective- hard to understand in space

Loose, choppy brush strokes (clearly a painted representation)

Rebel from previous convention and depict harsh realities of Parisian life

Ordinary people and unglamorous prostitution

Commentary on racial divisions and the class system in Paris

Nude woman reclining on a chaise lounge with a black cat at her feet

She stares with a cold, stark, indifferent expression at the viewer

A black female servant stands behind her holding a bouquet of flowers (a gift for the prostitute from a client)

Highlights the french colonial mindset and injustice in society

the stark contrast of the black skin from the white highlighted racial division

Depicts the world of Parisian prostitution

Depicted marginalized people in society rather than the traditional Bourgeois and aristocratic subjects

This is a salon painting (academic painting) that defied tradition creating an artistic revolution

This received extreme negative reviews from critics in 1865 at the Parisian Salon

It “bewildered” the Parisians and was seen as scandalous and an insult to tradition, caused unease amongst viewers because he shamelessly and obviously depicts a defiant looking prostitute, which unnerved viewers

Both a nude prostitute and a black maid was seen as inferior and animalistic sexuality

Manet mocked the revitalization of classical style by using a contemporary, ordinary subject. He suggested that the classical past no longer had relevance in the modern world.

Manet rejected controlled brush strokes and seamless illusionism

Time of the industrial revolution (linked to the separation from the outdated, classical past)

He recreated the Venus of Urbino but Manet’s creation was believed to be disrespectful and insulting to it

Manet referred to as the father of impressionism, his “rebellious” style inspired future work

Considered the first modernist painter in his technique and subjects

Manet’s realist predecessor was Gustave Courbet and drew inspiration from Velasquez and Goya and Dutch painters

The model was Victorine Meurent

Manet highlighted the injustice of colonial viewpoints, the anxieties of the class system (since many rural people moved to the growing cities), and the uncertainty of the modern world


The History of the Olympic Games

Compare the ancient Olympics to the modern games. Plus, learn how money, politics, and performance-enhancing drugs have become major influences, often causing controversy.

The Olympic Games are an international sports festival that began in ancient Greece. The original Greek games were staged every fourth year for several hundred years, until they were abolished in the early Christian era. The revival of the Olympic Games took place in 1896, and since then they have been staged every fourth year, except during World War I and World War II (1916, 1940, 1944).

Perhaps the basic difference between the ancient and modern Olympics is that the former was the ancient Greeks' way of saluting their gods, whereas the modern Games are a manner of saluting the athletic talents of citizens of all nations. The original Olympics featured competition in music, oratory, and theater performances as well. The modern Games have a more expansive athletic agenda, and for 2 and a half weeks they are supposed to replace the rancor of international conflict with friendly competition. In recent times, however, that lofty ideal has not always been attained.

The Ancient Olympics

The earliest reliable date that recorded history gives for the first Olympics is 776 B.C., although virtually all historians presume that the Games began well before then.

It is certain that during the midsummer of 776 B.C. a festival was held at Olympia on the highly civilized eastern coast of the Peloponnesian peninsula. That festival remained a regularly scheduled event, taking place during the pre-Christian golden age of Greece. As a testimony to the religious nature of the Games (which were held in honor of Zeus, the most important god in the ancient Greek pantheon), all wars would cease during the contests. According to the earliest records, only one athletic event was held in the ancient Olympics &mdash a footrace of about 183 m (200 yd), or the length of the stadium. A cook, Coroibus of Elis, was the first recorded winner. The first few Olympics had only local appeal and were limited to one race on one day only men were allowed to compete or attend. A second race &mdash twice the length of the stadium &mdash was added in the 14th Olympics, and a still longer race was added to the next competition, four years later.

When the powerful, warlike Spartans began to compete, they influenced the agenda. The 18th Olympiad included wrestling and a pentathlon consisting of running, jumping, spear throwing (the javelin), discus throwing, and wrestling. Boxing was added at the 23rd Olympiad, and the Games continued to expand, with the addition of chariot racing and other sports. In the 37th Olympiad (632 B.C.) the format was extended to five days of competition.

The growth of the Games fostered "professionalism" among the competitors, and the Olympic ideals waned as royalty began to compete for personal gain, particularly in the chariot events. Human beings were being glorified as well as the gods many winners erected statues to deify themselves. In A.D. 394 the Games were officially ended by the Roman emperor Theodosius I, who felt that they had pagan connotations.

The Modern Olympics

The revival of the Olympic Games in 1896, unlike the original Games, has a clear, concise history. Pierre de Coubertin (1863&ndash1937), a young French nobleman, felt that he could institute an educational program in France that approximated the ancient Greek notion of a balanced development of mind and body. The Greeks themselves had tried to revive the Olympics by holding local athletic games in Athens during the 1800s, but without lasting success. It was Baron de Coubertin's determination and organizational genius, however, that gave impetus to the modern Olympic movement. In 1892 he addressed a meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris. Despite meager response he persisted, and an international sports congress eventually convened on June 16, 1894. With delegates from Belgium, England, France, Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain, Sweden, and the United States in attendance, he advocated the revival of the Olympic Games. He found ready and unanimous support from the nine countries. De Coubertin had initially planned to hold the Olympic Games in France, but the representatives convinced him that Greece was the appropriate country to host the first modern Olympics. The council did agree that the Olympics would move every four years to other great cities of the world.

Thirteen countries competed at the Athens Games in 1896. Nine sports were on the agenda: cycling, fencing, gymnastics, lawn tennis, shooting, swimming, track and field, weight lifting, and wrestling. The 14-man U.S. team dominated the track and field events, taking first place in 9 of the 12 events. The Games were a success, and a second Olympiad, to be held in France, was scheduled. Olympic Games were held in 1900 and 1904, and by 1908 the number of competitors more than quadrupled the number at Athens &mdash from 311 to 2,082.

Beginning in 1924, a Winter Olympics was included &mdash to be held at a separate cold-weather sports site in the same year as the Summer Games &mdash the first held at Chamonix, France. In 1980 about 1,600 athletes from 38 nations competed at Lake Placid, N.Y., in a program that included Alpine and Nordic skiing, biathlon, ice hockey, figure skating and speed skating, bobsled, and luge.

But the Summer Games, with its wide array of events, are still the focal point of the modern Olympics. Among the standard events are basketball, boxing, canoeing and kayaking, cycling, equestrian arts, fencing, field hockey, gymnastics, modern pentathlon, rowing, shooting, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball, water polo, weight lifting, wrestling (freestyle and Greco-Roman), and yachting. New sports are added to the roster at every Olympic Games among the more prominent are baseball, martial arts, and most recently triathlon, which was first contested at the 2000 Games. The Games are governed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), whose headquarters is in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The Summer and Winter Games were traditionally held in the same year, but because of the increasing size of both Olympics, the Winter Games were shifted to a different schedule after 1992. They were held in Lillehammer, Norway in 1994, in Nagano, Japan in 1998, in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002, in Turin, Italy in 2006, and in 2010, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Politics and the Olympics

The ideology of nationalism, which swept the world during the early 20th century, left its mark on the Olympics. Athletic nationalism was brought to a peak by Nazi Germany, which staged the 1936 Games in Berlin and used the Olympics to propagandize its cause. The Germans built a powerful team through nationalized training and scientific advances and dominated the Games in terms of medals won.

The political overtones of the Olympics did not lessen with the fall of Nazi Germany. In 1956, Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon boycotted the Melbourne Games to protest the Anglo-French seizure of the Suez Canal, and the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland boycotted as well to protest the USSR's invasion of Hungary. In Mexico City in 1968, two African American runners used the victory pedestal to protest U.S. racial policies. In the Munich Olympics in 1972, 11 Israeli athletes were massacred by Palestinian terrorists. And in 1976 in Montreal, 33 African nations, to be represented by about 400 athletes, boycotted the Games to protest South Africa's apartheid policies.

The most serious disruptions to the modern Olympics, however, occurred in 1980 and 1984. In 1980, under strong pressure from the Carter administration, the U.S. Olympic Committee voted to boycott the Summer Games in Moscow to protest the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. About 40 nations followed suit, including West Germany, China, and Japan, depriving the Soviets of their chief athletic competition and raising doubts about the future of the Olympic movement. Although the 1984 Winter Games, in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, proceeded without boycotts, the Summer Games, in Los Angeles, were undercut by an Eastern-bloc boycott led by the USSR. Fear of an openly hostile environment in Los Angeles was cited by the Soviet Olympic Committee as the reason for nonparticipation, but most commentators believed the reasons to be political: the poor state of recent U.S.-Soviet relations, revenge for the U.S. boycott in 1980, and possible embarrassment to the Soviets on worldwide television caused by planned anti-Soviet demonstrations and defections of Eastern-bloc athletes. The popularity and financial success of the 1984 Los Angeles Games were, however, greater than anticipated.

In 1988 the Winter Games &mdash in Calgary, Alberta, Canada &mdash went on without incident. At the Summer Games, in Seoul, South Korea, only six nations (including Cuba and North Korea) boycotted, and the focus returned to the athletes.The 1992 Winter and Summer Games (in Albertville, France, and Barcelona, Spain, respectively) were the first Olympics without the Eastern-bloc sports machine, were the last for the "Unified Teams" from the former USSR, and marked the return of South Africa to Olympic competition. The 1996 Summer Games, in Atlanta, Ga., were the largest ever they were marred by a bombing that took the lives of two people. The 1994 and 1998 Winter Games transpired without incident. The 2000 Summer Games were held in Sydney, Australia, to great acclaim. In Sydney, politics took a back seat to the competition, although North and South Korea were temporarily reunited as their athletes marched as one country in the opening ceremonies. Athens, Greece &mdash site of the first modern Olympics &mdash was the site of the Summer Games in 2004. Though it has potential for political controversies due to its rapid modernization and its communist state-Beijing, China was selected for the 2008 Summer Games.

Money and the Olympics

The biggest influence on the modern Olympic Games is money. Commercialism exists side by side with the outstanding athleticism and the spirit of friendship imbuing competitors from around the world. Since the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, it has become clear that a city hosting the Games can anticipate a financial windfall, as spectators and sponsors converge for the event. Because of the tremendous potential for profit, the process of selecting host cities has become politicized, and there is a large potential for corruption. In fact, a scandal erupted in late 1998, when it was found that promoters involved with Salt Lake City's (winning) bid for the 2002 Winter Games had bribed IOC members, who were forced to resign the Nagano and Sydney bids were also under suspicion of bribery.

Athletes, too, especially in the "glamour sports" such as gymnastics, ice skating, or track and field, can reap tremendous financial gains for winning performances, through product endorsements and personal appearances. Originally, Olympic athletes were expected to remain strictly amateurs and not earn money even for endorsing products. However, by the last decades of the 20th century, professionalism among competitors received official acceptance, as the IOC finally recognized that many world-class athletes were already functioning as professionals. At the elite level of competition in many Olympic sports, the athlete must devote him- or herself entirely to the sport, all but precluding the holding of a full-time job.

The end of amateurism began in 1960s in the Communist countries, where top athletes were supported by the state, but were officially considered amateurs. To counter this, in the 1970s and 1980s athletes in non-Communist countries sought out corporate sponsors, in effect becoming "employees" of the sponsor. By the late 1980s, restrictions were eased on athletes earning prize money at their sports, and professional athletes were permitted to represent their countries at the Olympics. This now includes the star athletes who play in the American professional leagues, such as the U.S. basketball "Dream Team" of National Basketball Association superstars who dominated the 1992 Olympic competition. In addition, with IOC rules concerning amateurism vacated, many medal-winning contestants have cashed in on their Olympic fame with product endorsements or performance tours.

Performance-Enhancing Drugs

Winning medals at the Olympic Games has always been considered the most prestigious mark of an athlete, and a source of glory for the athlete's country. This has led to the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes, intentionally or otherwise, despite the health risks to the athlete and IOC rules prohibiting the use of these substances. The types of drugs banned include stimulants (which can be found in common cold and cough medications caffeine is also banned), narcotics, anabolic steroids, diuretics, certain hormones (such as human growth hormone), and in some sports, beta blockers. The testing of athletes for drug use began for the Olympics in 1968, at the Mexico City Games, but did not become widespread until the 1972 Games. Over the years, as drugs such as human growth hormone have been developed, tests have been added for newer drugs.

With such great rewards at stake, there are athletes and even national sports programs willing to use performance-enhancing drugs despite the risks to future health and the disgrace of getting caught. The best-known example of drug use is the East German sports federation, which had a systematic program for giving its athletes steroids from 1974 to 1989. During that time East German women suddenly dominated events such as swimming, winning medals in 11 of 13 events both in 1976 and 1980. Other swimmers suspected that the East German women were using steroids, because the drugs affected their physical appearance, but the team was never caught. After the reunification of Germany, the East German sports federation's records were opened and the program was exposed. In 2000 the former head of the federation and the doctor who developed and administered the drug plan were convicted of systematic and overall doping. The former athletes maintain that they never knew they were taking steroids, claiming that they were told that the various medications were vitamins. As drug testing procedures have improved, more athletes have been caught. In Seoul there was suspicion of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs after Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson tested positive he was stripped of his gold medal. In the mid-1990s, China's female swimmers and runners quickly rose to the top of elite competition, arousing suspicions of drug use by the late 1990s many were caught through more diligent drug testing.

The IOC publicly decries the use of performance-enhancing drugs. However, it is commonly believed that even with out-of-competition testing, the drugs and masking agents available to athletes is far ahead of the tests used to detect these substances. A study released in September 2000 that was financed by the U.S. government accused the IOC of permitting drug use to persist in order to maintain the mystique of the Olympics and record-breaking performances. The IOC formed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in late 1999 to test athletes at the upcoming Olympics and to increase drug testing standards, but how effective WADA will be in the long run is not yet known.

Bibliography: Finding, John E., and Pelle, Kimberly D., Historical Dictionary of the Modern Olympic Movement (1996) Greenberg, Stan, Guinness Book of Olympic Records (1992) Guttmann, Allen, The Olympics (1992) Henry, Bill, et al., An Approved History of the Olympic Games (1984) Hill, Christopher, Olympic Politics: Athens to Atlanta, 1896&ndash1996, 2d ed. (1997) Swaddling, Judith, The Ancient Olympic Games, 2d ed. (2000) Wallechinsky, David, The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics: Sydney 2000 Edition (2000) Young, David C., The Modern Olympics: A Struggle for Revival (1996).


8. Simone Biles Debuts𠅊nd Dazzles

Simone Biles performs her routine during the artistic gymnastics women&aposs individual all-around final event at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 11, 2016.