According to legend, the ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles (the Roman Hercules), a son of Zeus. Yet the first Olympic Games for which we still have written records were held in 776 BCE (though it is generally believed that the Games had been going on for many years already). At this Olympic Games, a naked runner, Coroebus (a cook from Elis), won the sole event at the Olympics, the stade – a run of approximately 192 meters (210 yards). This made Coroebus the very first Olympic champion in history.
The ancient Olympic Games grew and continued to be played every four years for nearly 1200 years. In 393 CE, the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences.
Pierre de Coubertin Proposes New Olympic Games
Approximately 1500 years later, a young Frenchmen named Pierre de Coubertin began their revival. Coubertin is now known as le Rénovateur. Coubertin was a French aristocrat born on January 1, 1863. He was only seven years old when France was overrun by the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870. Some believe that Coubertin attributed the defeat of France not to its military skills but rather to the French soldiers’ lack of vigor.* After examining the education of the German, British, and American children, Coubertin decided that it was exercise, more specifically sports, that made a well-rounded and vigorous person.
Coubertin’s attempt to get France interested in sports was not met with enthusiasm. Still, Coubertin persisted. In 1890, he organized and founded a sports organization, Union des Sociétés Francaises de Sports Athlétiques (USFSA). Two years later, Coubertin first pitched his idea to revive the Olympic Games. At a meeting of the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris on November 25, 1892, Coubertin stated,
“Let us export our oarsmen, our runners, our fencers into other lands. That is the true Free Trade of the future; and the day it is introduced into Europe the cause of Peace will have received a new and strong ally. It inspires me to touch upon another step I now propose and in it I shall ask that the help you have given me hitherto you will extend again, so that together we may attempt to realise [sic], upon a basis suitable to the conditions of our modern life, the splendid and beneficent task of reviving the Olympic Games.”
His speech did not inspire action…..
The Modern Olympic Games Are Founded
Though Coubertin was not the first to propose the revival of the Olympic Games, he was certainly the most well-connected and persistent of those to do so. Two years later, Coubertin organized a meeting with 79 delegates who represented nine countries. He gathered these delegates in an auditorium that was decorated by neoclassical murals and similar additional points of ambiance. At this meeting, Coubertin eloquently spoke of the revival of the Olympic Games. This time, Coubertin aroused interest.
The delegates at the conference voted unanimously for the Olympic Games. The delegates also decided to have Coubertin construct an international committee to organize the Games. This committee became the International Olympic Committee (IOC; Comité Internationale Olympique) and Demetrious Vikelas from Greece was selected to be its first president. Athens was chosen as the location for the revival of the Olympic Games and the planning was begun.
The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, officially the Games of the XXX Olympiad, also known informally as London 2012, began in London, United Kingdom, on 27 July and will continue until 12 August 2012. The first event, the group stages in women’s football, began two days earlier on 25 July. Around 10,500 athletes from 204 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are expected to participate.
Following a bid headed by former Olympic champion Lord Coe and the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, London was selected as the host city on 6 July 2005 during the 117th IOC Session in Singapore, defeating bids from Moscow, New York City, Madrid and Paris. London is the first city to officially host the modern Olympic Games three times, having previously done so in 1908 and in 1948.
Construction in preparation for the Games involved considerable redevelopment, particularly themed towards sustainability. The main focus of this is a new 200-hectare Olympic Park, constructed on a former industrial site at Stratford in the east of London. The Games also make use of venues which were already in place before the bid.
The opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics was held on 27 July 2012 and was called “Isles of Wonder”. Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle was the artistic director for the opening ceremony and the music directors were Rick Smith and Karl Hyde of the electronic music duo Underworld.
The Games were officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II, who was accompanied by Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. It was the second Games opened personally by the Queen; she opened the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. Philip opened the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne on her behalf. The Games held in Australia and Canada in 1988, 2000 and 2010 were opened by their countries’ respective Governors General.
A comedic short film starring Daniel Craig as secret agent James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II as herself was screened during the television coverage of the ceremony. Sir Paul McCartney performed the song “Hey Jude” at the end of the ceremony. As per reports, the gala opening ceremony was watched by 27 million UK viewers.
The closing ceremony of the London 2012 Summer Olympics is scheduled to begin on 12 August 2012. The ceremony is planned to include a handover of the Olympic flag by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, to Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, the host city of 2016 Summer Olympics. The Spice Girls are rumoured to be reuniting for the first time since 2008 to perform in the closing ceremony.
Copyright 2012 by london2012.com, history1900s.about.com & YouTube