Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Modern Olympic Games

In the 19th century, probably influenced by the romantic current in the literature, people started rediscovering old values, forgotten traditions and all those things that were not modern enough for the current society so they have been thrown in a small dark corner to be disposed of.

Panathinaiko Stadium - Olympic Games 1896
During that period, there was a revival of the concept of Olympic games. One of the most known people to resurrect this concept was Dr. William Penny Brookes. He organized, starting from 1850, some local games known as the Meetings of the Olympian Class. A few years later he actually manages to organize national Olympic Games in London. That being the first Olympic Games to be held outside Greece even if they were of national amplitude and not international.

The one who made the Olympic Games international was Baron Pierre de Coubertin. With the help of Dr. Brookes he managed to convince the Congress from Sorbonne in 1894 to organize the first international Olympic Games. There was a dispute about where they should take place but finally Athens was the winner. 

Philanthropists Evangelos and Konstantinos Zappas offered their financial support in rebuilding the Panathinaiko Stadium, the place where in 1896 the first Olympic Games as we know them today took place. 
The first Olympic Torch 1936

You might be surprised to find out that the Olympic Torch has a way shorter history than the Olympic Games. 

The origin of the torch resides in the fact that, in ancient times, Greeks would keep a fire burning throughout the Olympic celebration as a symbol of Zeus. During modern times the Olympic Flame was introduced in 1928 at the Olympics that took place in Amsterdam. The Torch relay though was introduced at the controversial Olympics in Berlin 1936 (during the World War II) by Carl Diem.

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