Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games. The first recorded Ancient Olympic Games were held in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece, and continued every four years, finishing about 394 AD. In 1766 Englishman Richard Chandler discovered the site of ancient Olympia, and after that there were several olympic-style competitions in France, Greece and Britain. In one such competition, the Much Wenlock Games, Pierre de Coubertin, the best-known architect of the modern Olympic Games, was invited to attend by Dr William Penny Brookes in 1890. On this competition Coubertin based his idea of modern games. With ideas and work of several other people the modern Olympic Games were born at the Congress of Paris in 1894.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was also established during this congress and the control and development of Games were entrusted to this committee. Coubertin suggested that the Olympics be re-established as an international four-yearly event to be hosted by different cities each time. As the official motto of the Games, he adopted “Citius, altius, fortius,” Latin for “Faster, higher, stronger,” now famous phrase apparently coined by his friend Henri Didon. It was at first agreed that the Games should be held in Paris in 1900, however, it was decided to change the venue to Athens in 1896. As the birthplace of the Olympic Games, Greece was perceived to be an appropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games.
At the second Olympics in 1900 in Paris, for the first time women were allowed to officially compete, in croquet, golf, sailing and tennis. The Games were integrated with the Paris World's Fair and lasted over 5 months. In the third Olympics, in 1904 in St Louis, medals were introduced, and in 1908 in London, for the first time the Olympics took place in a purpose built olympic stadium. On this game Coubertin made the statement “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to participate,” on a day when the British and Americans were bitterly disputing who had won the 400-metre race. In 1912 in Stockholm, athletes from all 5 continents took part, and the Olympic Flag was presented by Coubertin in 1914.
The scheduled 1916 Olympics in Berlin, were cancelled following the onset of World War I. The Olympic Flame first appeared at the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam. The torch relay was the idea of Carl Diem, organizer of the 1936 Berlin Games, where the relay made its debut, and that was the first televised Olympics. Due to World War II, the Games of 1940 (due to be held in Tokyo and temporarily relocated to Helsinki upon the outbreak of war) were cancelled. The Games of 1944 were due to be held in London but were also cancelled, instead, London hosted the first games after the end of the war, in 1948. The 1964 Olympics in Tokyo were the first to be broadcast worldwide on television, enabled by the recent advent of communication satellites.
The 1972 Games in Munich, saw the first “official mascot.” Unfortunately, on this game Black September terrorists killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team, and after much debate, it was decided that the Games would continue. In 1971 the IOC decided to eliminate the term amateur from the Olympic charter, and after many events were opened to professional athletes. The 1980 Games in Moscow were boycotted by 66 nations, including the US, and in 1984 the Soviet Union and 13 Soviet allies reciprocated by boycotting the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. In 1986 the IOC adopted rules that permit the international federation governing each Olympic sport to decide whether to permit professional athletes in Olympic competition.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was announced that the 2020 Games were to be delayed until 2021, marking the first time that the Olympic Games have been postponed. To date, the Summer Olympics has been hosted on five continents by a total of nineteen countries. Forty two sports, spanning fifty five disciplines, have been part of the Olympic program at one point or another. Only athletics, artistic gymnastic, fencing and swimming has been part of every Game, and only Australia, France, Great Britain, Greece and Switzerland have participated in every Summer Olympic Games. The various Olympic Sports federations are grouped under a common umbrella association, the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).