While it is expected for a casual viewer to not know any of these facts, even those who pride themselves as being “all knowing” when it comes to the Olympic Games will be surprised when they realize how few of these interesting facts they knew about.
The Olympic Games are the biggest event in the world of sports. They come about every four years and draw sports fans from all over the world to come and see for themselves, however, those are the most basic facts about the Olympic Games around and will rarely be used in your bar’s trivia night. However, if, after reading through this article you think to yourself “I knew all of these” you truly are the expert in this field.
It all started with Shakespeare
The first person to ever use the term “Olympian” in the English language was Shakespeare. Namely, in 1591, in his play Henry VI he used the line: “… such rewards / As victors wear at the Olympian games”.
The earliest record that we have of the Olympic games is dated back to 776 BC. And the only event in these Olympics was a foot race. What should also be noted is that slaves, women, and people who were not pious enough were not allowed to participate in these Olympic Games.
During the Olympic Games, any war in the Hellenic world was to be suspended until the Games were over. The Olympic Truce was a rule created to protect anyone who wanted to visit the festival of the games. And, not only were wars suspended for the period, but also any legal disputes and even death penalties were not allowed during the truce.
Lacedaemonians once broke the truce by attacking Lepreum and taking a fortress. For this, they were banned from the Olympic games and fined 2,000 minae. That was no small figure. Given the fact that the army that carried out the attack was only a thousand people strong and that a single mina equals 100 drachmas. This would equal almost 40 million dollars in today’s value. They objected noting that the truce was not announced at the moment they gave the others to attack, however, their defense was dismissed.
Back in the past, the rules were much different
While the first revival of the Olympic Games took place in 1612 near Chipping Campden, those did not strictly follow today’s protocol. They were an annual event that involved various sports. One should keep in mind that various organizations have used the term “Olympic” or alternative terms like, in this case, “Olimpick”.
Another attempt to revive the Olympic games was the creation of the National Olympic Association. The National Olympic Associaton began in 1865, with the idea that they should hold the actual games in a different city each year. And, next year, 1866, the first National Olympic Games were held in London. This lasted for 17 years until the last ones were held in Hadley in 1883.
Finally, a successful revival started when the International Olympic Committee was founded in 1894. It was founded by a man born under the name Pierre de Frédy, but later known as Baron de Coubertin. Coubertin was actually the one to create the official Olympic motto “Faster, Higher, Stronger” and the symbol of the Olympic Rings that represent the five parts of the world.
How did they choose the symbol?
The six colors of the symbol were actually selected because any flag in the world will contain at least one of the colors of the rings. One should also not forget the white background that the symbol holds.
The first time some electrical devices were used in the Games was in 1920 when the Olympics were held in Stockholm.
Why the flame?
The Olympic Flame was reintroduced for the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam. The origins of the Olympic flame are connected to the myth of Prometheus and the fire is to be kept burning during the entire duration of the Games.
Some additional info
It is interesting to know that tennis was actually abolished as an Olympic sport for the 1928 Olympics and did not come back for 60 years.
The torch relay that is so common nowadays (where the torch is being carried from Greece to the place of the Olympic Games and is used to light the flame) actually has no precedent in the history of the games and is a modern addition to them. It was first introduced at 1936 Summer Olympics that were held in Berlin.
The first torch relay had the torch carried from Athens to Berlin. During the trip, the torch had to go through Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Austria, and Czechoslovakia.