The Ancient Olympic Games
Although the ancient Olympic games were first recorded in 776 BC, they originated at least a century before that and possibly as early as the 13th century BC.
One Greek legend said that the great Herakles (Hercules in the Roman form) won a race at Olympia, a plain in the small state of Elis, and then decreed that the race should be-re-enacted every four years. Another said that Zeus himself had originated the festival after defeating Cronus for the sovereignty of heaven.
The more likely story it’s that Olympic festival was a local religious event until 884 BC. when Iphitius, the king of Elis decided to turn it into a broader, pan Hellenic festival. To accomplish that, he entered into a temporary truce with other rulers, allowing athletes and others to travel peacefully to Olympia while the festival was going on. the Greeks based their chronology on four year periods called Olympiads, and the Olympic festival marked the beginning of each Olympiad. Evidently the festival was reorganized in 776 BC, which was considered the start of the first Olympiad.
28th Athens Olympic Games
There had been hopes that Athens would host the 1996 Olympics, marking the Centennial of the modern games. But Atlanta was selected for 1996 and Sydney for the 2000 Olympics.
Athens finally got its chance in 2004, eight years late for the centennial celebration, it seemed for a time that Athens would be even later than that. In 2000, the international Olympic Committee seriously considered moving the 2004 games to other country, possibly South Korea, because Athens’ preparation were so far behind schedule. Athens remained the host, though, and every thing was ready in time. Well almost every thing. There was no roof on the natatorium, so swimmers struggled with hot sun and high temperatures during after noon preliminaries. Medal races were fortunately held at night, when the air and water were cooler.
There was praise for the architecture of new and refurnished Olympic Venus, for the fountains and reflecting pools that ornamented the areas, for the shimmering wall of nations created by Spanish architect Santigo Calatrava, who also designed the new stadium and the Olympic sport center. Besides building the obligatory new structures, Athens could serve up tradition as no other host city ever could. The men’s and women’s shot put competition took place in the stadium of ancient Olympia.
The Panathinaiko stadium, where the first modern Olympic games were held in 1896. was modified to host archery competition and the finish of the marathon. The Karaiskaki stadium, which had been the velodrome in 1896, was totally renovated to host men’s and women’s soccer. And the marathon followed the historic route from marathon to Athens first run by Military courier named Pheidippides in 490 BC according to legend. After Athens was ready, the next perceived problem was terrorism. Despite constant reassurances about all the security measures in place ticket sales were slow. When the games officially opened on August 13, fewer than half of the 5.2 million available seats had been sold and, for the first several days, there were thousands of empty seats at the major events. Then, suddenly, the spectators began to show up. The 70,000 seats stadium was virtually sold out for every night of the truck and field competition and other Venus were nearly filled during the final week or so of the Olympics.
At the closing ceremony on August 29 IOC President Jacques Rogge proclaimed to the Greece people. “You have won. You have won by brilliantly meeting the tough challenge of holding the games. These were unforgettable dream games The only security breach was a bizarre incident that marred the men’s marathon, the final competition before the closing ceremony.
A defrocked Irish Priest with a history of such disturbances burst from the crowd and grabbed Vanderiel De Lima of Brazil, who was leading the race with about three miles to go. De Lima managed to break free but he kept looking warily over his shoulder for the rest of the race. He finished third and a protest from Brazil’s track federation, asking that he be given a share of the gold medal, was rejected.