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Olympic Games Timeline 




Detailed Information

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.

490BCE Greece First Marathon

The messenger Pheidippedes ran 42km from Sparta to Athens to bring the news of the Greek victory at the battle of Marathon.

424BCE Greece Decline

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 to signify the 5 continents – Africa, Americas, Asia, Australasia and Europe
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

Summer 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

Summer Olympics

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.
1956 Melbourne, Australia Boycotts

Summer Olympics

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.
1960 Rome
  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,

Summer Olympics

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

Summer Olympics

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 debuted 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  

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