|In 1894, Baron Pierre de Coubertin assembled delegates from 12 countries to re-establish the ancient Greek tradition of the Olympic games. Two years later, the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens. The Games were a great success with 60,000 people attending the opening ceremony.
The next two Games, 1900 in Paris and 1904 in St Louis were overshadowed by the Paris Universal Exposition and the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, respectively, and the Games were flagging. An interim Games, attended by twenty countries, was held in Athens in 1906 to revive the movement.
The next Games, in London in 1908, were the most successful to date. The tradition of awarding gold, silver and bronze medals began at these Games. (Previously, a silver medal had been awarded to the winner only.)
Successful games in Stockholm in 1912 saw the introduction of electric timing of events.
After the First World War, the Olympic flag and the Olympic was introduced at Antwerp in 1920. The Olympic oath was introduced in the Paris Games of 1924. The tradition of the Olympic flame burning throughout competition and the release of doves at the opening ceremony began in the 1928 Stockholm Games. 1932 in Los Angeles saw the first purpose-built Olympic Village and the first use of photo-finish equipment.
The 1936 Berlin Games were the most lavish to date but were marred by the political motivation of the Nazi German hosts.
59 countries attended the first post-War Games in London in 1948 but Germany and Japan were excluded. Germany and Japan were re-admitted to the 1952 Helsinki Games which were also the first Games attended by the USSR.
Melbourne in 1956 began the tradition of all the athletes entering the stadium together for the closing ceremony.
Although the first Olympic Games to held in Asia, in Tokyo in 1964, were not affected by the exclusion of South Africa for practising apartheid in sport, the following Games, in Mexico City, in 1968, only proceeded after threats of boycotts from black Americans, African and Soviet bloc nations to force the continued banning of South Africa.
The 1972 Games in Munich were interrupted by a Palestinian terrorist attack on the Israeli compound. Nine Israelis, five terrorists and one policeman were killed.
Most African boycotted the 1976 Games in Montreal in protest against New Zealand’s having played Rugby Union against South Africa.
35 countries, including the United States, boycotted the 1980 Games in Moscow in protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union and most of its allies retaliated by boycotting the 1984 Games in Los Angeles, alleging inadequate security; but the Chinese participated for the first time since 1952.