The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate. The Games are currently held every two years.
The purpose of the Olympic Movement and its highest manifestation, the Olympic Games, as set out by its founder Pierre de Coubertin in 1894, is to further the development of sport and to use sport to promote both personal and cultural change. The fundamental principles of Olympism, in single value words, see the person as well-rounded, developing and striving. He or she exhibits leadership, ethics and fair play and treats others with dignity, respect and friendship in a community which is at peace and where sport is a right.
Some 1,503 years after they were banned by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, the Olympics returned. The first modern Olympics was staged at the home of the ancient Games in Greece, and by today’s standards attracted only a small number of athletes. Around 250 competed from 14 nations, compared with more than 11,000 from 203 countries at Beijing in 2008.
Coubertin, the man most usually credited with the modern Olympic revival, had not conceived of the competition that he helped organise in Athens in 1896 until he went to Britain to try to find out more about sports in English public schools. Brookes learnt of Coubertin's visit and invited the Frenchman, then 27 years old, to come to the Much Wenlock Olympian Society's games, which had been staged in the heart of Shropshire since 1850. Coubertin was impressed with what he saw and sat up with Brookes long into the night discussing how the Wenlock games might be translated on to a bigger stage.
Even in 1896, American sport had begun its troubling (to some) shift from pastime to profession. An unsigned report from Sunday, March 22, 1896 – perhaps the first of what is now almost a cliche, the Olympic athlete profile – notes prizes from the original Games were simply jars of olive oil, pressed from Athens' sacred trees. The writer adds, "Professionalism did not then exist to debase and disgrace athletics as it does to-day."
The first 50 years of the Olympics delivered no celebratory coins. But in the aftermath of World War II, London got to hold the 1948 Summer Games with Helsinki winning the right to host the 1952 event. The Finns thought it would be a good idea to strike a single coin to mark a momentous occasion for their country, and they proved to make a tidy profit of $6.5 million for Finland and went some way to helping finance their Games.
At the Olympic Games ritual is immediately and best exemplified through the Opening Ceremony, the event which receives the greatest media coverage and highest television ratings of any aspect of the Games. However, other facets of the Olympic Movement are also replete with symbolism and ceremony, for example, the medal presentation ceremonies, the lighting of the Olympic torch, International Olympic Committee Sessions and meetings of the International Olympic Academy. In addition to other, more overt, functions, these are all devices which have been manufactured by Olympic administrators who have sought to elevate the Games beyond sport into the realm of festival by stamping the Olympic movement with religious and mystical overtones.
Olympic athletes undertake a rigorous, multiyear preparation regimen with no guarantee they will qualify for the Olympics, let alone win their event. Therefore, those who win are seen as extraordinary, heroic individuals who won in an exclusive, even rare, form of international competition against the very best competitors from around the world. The exclusive appeal of the Olympic Games, combined with the unique, even daunting challenges athletes undertake, creates a compelling, irresistible quality that motivates companies to support the Olympics in the hope of benefiting from the associated halo effect.
The modern Olympic Games symbolize the struggle between man's ideals and the reality within which he must live. Beginning in 1986, they revived a system of sport competition in ancient Greek and Roman times which had been carried out every four years over a period of 1,000 years. An idealistic French nobleman, Baron de Coubertin, sought to adapt the concept of the ancient Olympic Games to modern conditions, providing an opportunity to revive and instill in the youth of the world through physical exercise and competition the "virtues" of fair play and soundness of body.
The first modern Olympic games came about by a revival of physical exercise. The world was also starting to connect with the inventions of the railways and telegraph, and people started to really communicate and immediately started to compare what each had and could do. The whole world was competing, and that is why Pierre de Coubertin thought that the Olympic games could be revived.
As time went on more sports were added and the Olympics continued to grow. Even today, with the Modern Olympics, new sports are being added as well as some sports being eliminated. Some of the sports we no longer see at the Olympics are: golf, basque pelota, croquet, jeu de paume, lacrosse, polo, rackets, roque, rugby, union, cricket, tug-of-war and softball.