The games began in ancient Greece, where athletes focused on combat and chariot races. They were important religiously as they were held at the same time as sacrifices were given honouring the god, Zeus. Held every four years they were most popular during the 6th and 5th centuries BCE, but as the Romans seized power the importance of the games declined. These ancient games, therefore, ended in either the 4th or 5th centuries CE. The precise date was not recorded.
Olympic style games surged in popularity in different countries about 1,300 years later beginning in revolutionary France held in both 1796 and 1798. There was widespread favour to bring the games back into existence in Greece after the Greek War of Independence in 1821. This led to the upswing in interest and the modern version of the games being held in 1870, which eventually led to the International Olympic Committee being founded and the first modern Summer Olympics to be held in 1896. In Athens, Greece, the games brought 14 nations and over 200 athletes to compete in 43 events.
Though the Olympics had been focused on summer sports in 1908 and 1920 figure skating was held as an event in the Summer Olympics, as was ice hockey in 1920. The Winter Olympics only came into existence in 1924, held in Chamonix, France, as a way to encompass all winter activities into the games. Until 1992 both the games held in summer and winter were organized in the same year.
Another interesting fact about the Olympics is that since the modern games have been in existence they have only been cancelled three times. In 1916 during World War I the games were cancelled. Then during World War II in both 1940 and 1944 the games did not take place.
In some instances the games were boycotted by certain countries including the 1980 Olympic Games held in Moscow, U.S.S.R. after an aggression by the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in 1979. Other games were also boycotted, but this is one of the more well known examples.
Now the Summer Olympics are almost upon us again. On Friday, July 27, the world will come together to celebrate and showcase athletic prowess from across the globe. Expected to participate in the event are athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees. This year the Olympics will be held across the pond in London, U.K. They have developed greatly over the years and will bring the entire world together again.
Though Canadians tend to fair better in winter sports, we still have great athletes who compete for us in the Summer Olympics. Canadian athletes have been able to qualify in a large number of events: archery, athletics, badminton, women’s basketball, boxing, canoeing, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, women’s soccer (football), gymnastics, judo, women’s modern pent-athalon, rowing, sailing, shooting, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, tri-athalon, women’s beach volleyball, women’s weightlifting, and wrestling.
During the last Summer Olympics, which was held in 2008, Canada walked away with a total of 18 medals: three gold medals, nine silver medals, and six bronze medals. Not quite the impressive showing of the Winter Olympics held in Vancouver two years ago where we took home a total of 26 medals, 14 of them gold; however, the heart of our athletes remain whether competing in winter or summer events.
Though I am the stereotypical Canadian who enjoys watching winter sports more than summer ones I look forward to 2012 Olympics. For some reason I do enjoy watching rowing. Diving and gymnastics are others that I find quite interesting, probably because the skill level simply amazes me. I can do a front flip on a trampoline and occasionally land on my feet, but these athletes defy gravity constantly.
The Olympics are a way to come together as a nation and as a world. It is a great way to showcase talent and skill, which many enjoy watching. Sports in some form are past times for quite a few people and to watch the Olympics is to say that you are often watching the best in sport. Great spectacles are shown and though it may be quite extravagant, costing billions of dollars, it manages to be one of the most revered and largest global competitions out there. Really it could be considered the pinnacle of competition in the world.