For more information on counter-intuitive facts of ancient and medieval history, see Anthony Esolen’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization.
|776BCE||Athens, Greece||First Olympics||
First recorded evidence of the ancient Olympic games. The games were held at Olympia. There was only one event – the men’s 200m sprint.
The messenger Pheidippedes ran 42km from Sparta to Athens to bring the news of the Greek victory at the battle of Marathon.
With large numbers of young men having to go to fight against the Spartans there were fewer athletes able to train and compete in the games and so they began to fall into decline.
|394CE||Roman Empire||Olympics banned||
The Roman Emperor, Theodosius I, abolished the games claiming they were a pagan event.
|1612||Cotswolds, UK||Cotswold Olympick Games||
Robert Dover, a barrister, founded the Cotswold Olympick Games. The games featured horse racing, fencing, shin-kicking and throwing the hammer.
|1766||Greece||Ancient Olympia site found||
Englishman Richard Chandler discovered the site of ancient Olympia.
|1796||France||French Olympic Revival||
L’Olympiade de la République was an olympic-style yearly competition held between 1796 and 1798 in France.
|1850||Shropshire, UK||Wenlock Olympian Games||
An Olympic-style yearly sports festival was established in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, UK by Dr William Penny Brookes. It continues to this day.
|1859||Greece||Zappian Games||Dr William Penny Brookes persuaded Greek Evangelis Zappas to stage a revival of the ancient Olympic games. Brookes sent 10 pounds to be used as prize money.|
|1875||Greece||Olympia Excavated||A German-funded team of archeologists excavated the site of ancient Olympia.|
|1890||Shropshire, UK||Pierre de Coubertin visited Much Wenlock||Pierre de Coubertin was invited to attend the Much Wenlock games by Dr William Penny Brookes.|
|1894||France||IOC founded||The International Olympic Committee was founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin who took the title of President of the committee. Coubertin suggested that the Olympics be re-established as an international four-yearly event to be hosted by different countries each time.|
|1896||Athens Greece||First Modern Olympic Games||The first modern Olympic games was held in Athens, Greece. All winners were presented with an olive branch and a silver medal.|
|1900||Paris, France||Women competed for the first time||Paris hosted these games without a stadium. Most events were held in the Bois de Boulogne and swimming events were held in the river Seine. Women competed for the first time.|
|1904||St Louis, USA||Gold, silver and bronze medals were introduced||Gold, silver and bronze medals were introduced. Winners of events were given a gold medal, second place a silver medal and third place a bronze medal.|
|1908||London, UK||Olympic Stadium||For the first time the Olympics take place in a purpose built stadium. Figure skating was introduced as an Olympic sport. Australia and New Zealand competed together as Australasia.|
|1912||Stockholm, Sweden||Competitors from all 5 continents||Athletes from all 5 continents take part. A public address system and electric timing devices were used for the first time. The Decathlon and Pentathlon were introduced for the first time.|
|1914||–||Olympic Rings||Pierre de Coubertin designed the Olympic symbol of 5 interlocking rings.|
|1916||Cancelled||Due to be held in Berlin this games was cancelled due to World War One|
|1920||Antwerp, Belgium||Doves first released||The Olympic rings symbol was used for the first time. It was depicted on a flag with a white background which has been used ever since and is known as the Olympic flag. The opening ceremony saw doves, which symbolise peace, released for the first time. Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and Turkey were not allowed to take part because they were defeated in World War One|
|1924||Chamonix, France||Winter Olympics||The first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix France|
|1924||Paris, France||Summer Olympics||The games returned to Paris France|
|1928||St Moritz, Switzerland||Winter Olympics||The second Winter Olympics held in St Moritz, Switzerland|
|1928||Amsterdam, Netherlands||Summer Olympics
Olympic Flame first lit
|Amsterdam had previously bid for the 1920 and 1924 games. The Olympic flame was lit for the first time and burned throughout the entire competition. At the opening ceremony Greece led the athletes procession with the host nation at the end for the first time.|
|1930||Uruguay||First FIFA World Cup||Jules Rimet abandoned all hope of incorporating football into the Olympic games and established a separate competition – the FIFA World Cup.|
|1932||Lake Placid, USA||Winter Olympics||First Winter Olympics in America|
|1932||Los Angeles, USA||Summer Olympics||First use of a photo finish camera. First time winners stood on a tiered stand with national flags raised above them|
|1936||Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany||Winter Olympics||Alpine skiing was introduced for the first time.|
|1936||Berlin, Germany||First televised Olympics
|First Olympics to be televised, however the footage could only be watched on local television. Basketball became an Olympic sport for the first time and was won by the USA.|
|1940||Cancelled||–||Cancelled due to World War Two|
|1944||Cancelled||–||Cancelled due to World War Two|
|1948||St Moritz, Switzerland||Winter Olympics||Germany and Japan were not invited to take part|
|1948||London, UK||Austerity Games
|Dubbed the ‘Austerity Games’ as there was no money to fund a lavish spectacle.|
|1948||Stoke Mandeville Games||Forerunner to Paralympics||Sir Ludwig Guttmann organised a sports event for recuperating British veterans of World War Two to coincide with the London Games. It was called the Stoke Mandeville Games after the leading rehabilitation hospital at Stoke Mandeville and became an annual event.|
|1952||Oslo, Norway||Winter Olympics||After much discussion Germany and Japan were allowed to compete|
|1952||Helsinki , Finland||Summer Olympics|
|1956||Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy||Winter Olympics||Snow had to be imported into the country before the games could even begin.|
|Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt boycotted the games in protest at the British, French and Israeli invasion of Egypt (Suez Crisis)
Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland boycotted the games in protest at the Soviet invasion of Hungary
The People’s Republic of China boycotted the games in protest at the games’ recognition of Formosa (now Taiwan)
|1960||Squaw Valley, USA||Winter Olympics||The games were awarded to Squaw Valley despite its not being a city but a winter sports resort|
|1960||Rome, Italy||Summer Olympics||Many events took place in the ancient ruins around the city.|
|Sir Ludwig Guttmann brought a team of disabled athletes to compete in a games parallel to the Olympics. The name was shortened to Paralympics.|
|1964||Innsbruck, Austria||Winter Olympics||Warm weather meant that the Austrian army had to bring lorry loads of snow from alpine regions before the games could begin|
|1964||Tokyo, Japan||Summer Olympics||First Olympics held in Asia|
|1968||Grenoble, France||Winter Olympics||An Olympic ban on branded equipment was revoked after many competitors protested that without donated equipment from sponsors they would not be able to compete at all|
|1968||Mexico City, Mexico||Summer Olympics||First Olympics held in Central America.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos both give the ‘black power’ salute as the US national anthem is played in protest against racial prejudice in America.
|1972||Sapporo, Japan||Winter Olympics||First Winter Olympics to be held in Asia.|
|1972||Munich, Germany||Summer Olympics||Black September terrorists killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team|
|1976||Innsbruck, Austria||Winter Olympics||Originally awarded to Denver, USA but transferred to Innsbruck when Denver rejected the offer due to costs|
|1976||Montreal, Canada||Summer Olympics||31 nations boycotted the games as a protest against the New Zealand rugby team’s recent game with South Africa
Increased costs together with a reduced number of visitors nearly bankrupted Montreal
|1980||Lake Placid, USA||Winter Olympics||The Winter games were held at Lake Placid for a second time|
|1980||Moscow, Soviet Union||Western boycott,
|61 Nations refused to compete in these games as a protest against Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan.|
|1984||Sarajevo, Yugoslavia||Winter Olympics||Torvill and Dean, GB skaters scored perfect 6’s for their Bolero routine|
|1984||Los Angeles, USA||Eastern boycott
|15 communist block countries refused to compete in these games in retaliation for the boycott of the Moscow Olympics 4 years earlier. Romania was the only communist block country to take part and came 2nd in the medals table.|
|1986||Amateur status requirement dropped||The IOC agreed to drop the requirement that competitors taking part in the Olympics had to have amateur status. The official Olympic Charter was amended accordingly.|
|1988||Calgary, Canada||Winter Olympics||The Winter games were extended to 16 days|
|1988||Seoul, South Korea||Summer Olympics||11 medalists disqualified for using banned substances. The cost of the games was met by the sale of TV broadcasting rights.|
|1992||Albertville, France||Winter Olympics||Albertville is the smallest place to host an Olympics|
|1992||Barcelona, Spain||Summer Olympics||Former Soviet Union members competed as a Unified Team and Germany competed as one nation following the collapse of the Soviet Union.|
|1994 winter||Lillehammer, Norway||Winter Olympics||Norway’s only Olympics to date|
|1996||Atlanta, USA||Summer Olympics||Television rights were sold for a record sum and Coca-Cola was a major sponsor of these games.|
|1998||Nagano, Japan||Winter Olympics||Women’s ice hockey débuted at this Olympics|
|2000||Sydney, Australia||Summer Olympics||Steve Redgrave won a fifth consecutive gold medal in rowing.|
|2002||Salt Lake City, USA||Winter Olympics||Despite members of the IOC accepting sweetners from the NOC Salt Lake City did not lose the right to stage these games.|
|2004||Athens, Greece||Summer Olympics||The games returned to Athens. The cost involved in staging the Olympics, especially with regard to increased security provision following the 9/11 terror attacks led to delays and venues were completed only just in time.|
|2006||Turin, Italy||Winter Olympics||The second Winter Olympics held in Italy|
|2008||Beijing, China||Summer Olympics||43 world records and 132 Olympic records were broken during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in swimming the most ever at a single Olympics
|2010||Vancouver, Canada||Winter Olympics||The first games to hold its opening ceremony indoors|
|2012||London, UK||Summer Olympics||The games return to London for the third time|
|2014||Sochi, Russia||Winter Olympics|
|2016||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil||Summer Olympics|