Jennifer Ellison Brown | History and development of physical education and sports
The Ancient Olympic Games
The first Olympic Games were heavily based on religion and were tributes to the gods of Ancient Greece. The Games can be traced as far back as 776 BC and were held every four years in Olympia, Greece, until 393 AD when they were banned by a Christian, Emperor Theodosius I, who saw them as pagan festivals.
The ancient Olympics was also an opportunity to show the abilities of young people and to promote good relationships between competing cities. A truce was declared during the games, all fighting had to stop. Married woman were strictly forbidden to watch the Games, which officially lasted one day, but gradually went to three and then five days of competition. The events competed in included athletics, boxing, wrestling, pentathlon, which consists of three running races, jumping and discus throw, chariot racing, equestrian events, and the pancratium, a violent combination of boxing and wrestling. Winners were given laurel wreaths and palm branches, which were highly regarded.
The modern Olympic Games
In 1894, Baron Pierre de Coubertin became inspired by a number of events that were held all claiming to be the revival of the Olympic Games. This led him to set up the International Olympic Committee (IOC), initiating the modern Olympic Games. The baron had been impressed by the games he had seen in the English public schools and the athleticism they generated. He wanted to improve the physical health of his countrymen and thought the Olympic Games would be a good way to do it. The first game took place in Athens, Greece, in 1896, where 241 male athletes from 14 countries competed in nine sports.
Today, the Olympic Games is the world's biggest and most famous sporting event. Held every four years with both summer and winter sports competition, the aim is to promote the ideals of:
- Personal excellence
- Sport as education
- Cultural exchange
- Mass participation
- Fair play
- International understanding.
The International Olympic Committee works to ensure that a lasting legacy is developed, helping the host cities to change their community for the better. They are also working with developing countries to help with expansion of sporting programmes, focusing on education and sport, peace and sports, women and sport, and sports and the environment. The Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship are of huge importance before, during and after the event. The last Olympic game in 2016 was held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, where 204 countries took part in 26 sports. The next Olympic will be held in Tokyo, Japan, in 2020.
PAST OLYMPIC GAMES
1904 St Louis
1916 cancelled (World War I)
1932 Los Angeles
1940 cancelled (World War II - 1994)
1968 Mexico City
1984 Los Angeles
2016 Rio de Janeiro
The IOC chooses the host city through its members' votes. Cities, not countries, put their names forward. A number of scandals showed a great deal of bribery was involved in the process and new rules were introduced by the IOC in 1999. Cities cannot now be accepted as official candidates until the IOC Executive Board is satisfied that they are properly prepared, in line with IOC guidelines. IOC member visits to such cities and gifts to IOC members are banned.
All Summer Olympics since 1984 have made healthy profit. There is status and publicity for both the city and country. They must improve their facilities as well as roads, transport system, guest accommodation and tourist attractions. Holding the Olympics provides other commercial opportunities because of the large influx of competitors and spectators during the Games.
Cuba was the first Caribbean country documented to have entered the Summer Olympic Games, doing so in 1900 in Paris. They won two medals, gold and silver in fencing. Haiti entered in 1924, but it was not until 1948 that teams from a number of Caribbean countries, including Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago participated.
Arthur Wint won Jamaica's first gold medal and Rodney Wilkes won a weightlifting bronze for Trinidad and Tobago. In 1998, a meeting of Caribbean delegates took place to discuss Caribbean Olympism and the Caribbean Association of National Olympic Committees came to be established.