By Tim Lambert

The Ancient Greek Olympic Games

Athletic competitions were held during religious festivals in every Greek city. However the Olympic Games began in Olympia in 776 BC in honor of Zeus, the chief god and people came from all over Greece and the Greek colonies to take part in them. Wars stopped to allow everyone to take part.

Athletes competed in boxing, wrestling, running, horse racing, chariot racing and the pentathlon (five athletic events). Winners were not given medals. Instead they were given a crown of leaves.Women were not allowed to take part in the games. They were not even allowed to watch.

The Romans conquered Greece in 146 BC but the Olympic Games continued. for hundreds of years. However in 393 the Emperor Theodosius banned the Olympic Games because they here held in honor of Zeus and he was a Christian.

The Modern Olympic Games

The Olympic Games were revived by a Frenchman called Pierre de Coubertin. In 1894 he invited sportsmen to an international conference and they agreed to revive the Olympics in Athens in 1896. Altogether 245 athletes came to the Athens Olympics in 1986, from 14 different nations. In 1900 the Olympics were held in Paris. This time 1,225 athletes took part. For the first time women were allowed to participate in the Olympics, although only in tennis, golf and croquet.

The Olympics were held in St Louis in 1904. They were held in London in 1908. This time there were 2,800 athletes from 22 nations. They were held in Stockholm in 1912. This time swimming events for women were introduced. There were no Olympic Games in 1916 because of the First World War. However in 1920 the Olympics were held in Antwerp. They were held in Paris in 1924. The first Olympic Winter Sports were held in 1924 at Chamonix in France.

In 1928 the Olympic Games were held in Amsterdam. This time athletic events for women were introduced. In 1932 the Olympics were held in Los Angeles. In 1936 they were held in Berlin. For the first time they were televised.

No Olympic Games were held in 1940 or 1944 because of the Second World War but they were held in London in 1948. This time 4,104 athletes took part from 59 countries. In 1952 they were held in Helsinki. (In 1952 women were allowed to take part in equestrian events for the first time). In 1956 the Olympics were held in Melbourne, Australia. In 1960 they were held in Rome. The Olympic Games were held in Tokyo in 1964 (the first time the Olympics were held in Asia), in Mexico City in 1968 and in Munich in 1972. They were held in Montreal in 1976 and in Moscow in 1980. However in 1980 65 countries boycotted the Moscow Olympics because the Soviet Union had recently invaded Afghanistan. The USSR boycotted the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984. The Olympics were held in Seoul in 1988 (the second time they were held in Asia). In 1992 they were held in Barcelona.

In 1996 the Olympic Games were held in Atlanta. They were held in Sydney in 2000 and in 2004 they were once again held in Athens. In 2008 they were held in Beijing. They were held in London in 2012 and in Rio De Janeiro in 2016.

A brief history of Toys

A brief history of Holidays

A brief history of Games

Life in the 19th Century

A timeline of Games and Sports


Last revised 2016