Athens 1896

The renascence of the Olympic Games

I. Olympic Summer Games
Date April 6 - 15
Participants 12 nations
265 athletes
(only men)
Sports 9
Events 43
Patron King Georg I. of Greece
Visitors 312,000 (estimated)

The Olympic thought - it was not newly-discovered - it has never been forgotten. It has only reposed the last 1,500 years after the ancient games had been forbidden by the Roman emperor Theodosius I. as an heathenish culture. But even in the last 300 years there were consistently sportive competitions entitled as Olympic Games, like in England and France. Between 1859 and 1889 so-called "Olympiens" have taken place in Greece initiated by Evangelos Zappas and provided by the royal house.

In the end of the 19th century a lot of areas of live proceeded rapidly. Capitalism of the free business competition was the economical structure of its time, its consequences were technical attainments like the phone, the extension of the infrastructure on a grand scale with shipping lanes, railway lines, the construction of the automobile. Besides, a new political feeling of nationalism - and internationalism - rised. New educational values, likewise a certain conflict between classical humanism and modern technology, the urge to education were the image of a society becoming more modern that also attends more and more to sport.

The Olympic stadium of Athens
The Olympic stadium of Athens

The Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin, Secretary-General of the Union des Sociétés Francais (USFSA), was conceived by the development of his time. He was a competent man, his knowledge was his might. On 25 November 1892 he has afforded the first mention about an international sport competition in the amphitheater of the Sorbonne in Paris. Therewith the starting signal of the Olympic Games was shut. He maybe led by some patriotic thoughts to regain France's strength that was decreased as a result of the lost war against Germany in 1870/71, which one Coubertin has witnessed as child. But heself was primarily pedagogue, and therefore it was his goal to create games of peace and international understanding with orientation towards the ancient ideals. The Olympic Idea was born and Coubertin was its father.

The Olympic Games had been finally reborn on 23 June 1894, thus two years later, during an international congress for physical education in the Sorbonne. The performance of the first games in Athens was not already concluded, this issue has happened even later. In this item the process has taken course against Coubertin's wishes. He has wanted to begin the first games in Paris in 1900, as Frenchman understandable.
Not only the dignified respect for the Greeks and their tradition of the ancient games bases the start of the first Olympic Games in Greece. Therefore, the delegation in Paris has already accepted the year 1896 and the place of holding in Athens for the first modern games. Coubertin has got his way insofar as that not only the games takes place in a four-year rhythym, but also the next games were appointed to Paris.

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Medal Tally
# Country G S B
1 USA 11 7 2
2 Greece 10 18 19
3 Germany 7 5 3
4 France 5 4 2
5 Great Britain 3 3 3
6 Hungary 2 1 3
7 Austria 2 1 2
8 Australia 2 0 1
9 Denmark 1 2 3
10 Switzerland 1 2 0