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The Olympic Games – ancient versus modern

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The Ancient Olympics:
The ancient Greeks dedicated the Olympic Games to the god Zeus. The original games were held on the plain of Olympia in Peloponnesos, Greece.

The Greeks held the first Olympic games in the year 776 BC (over 2700 years ago), and had only one event, a sprint (a short run that was called the „stade“). The race was run by men who competed in the nude. A wreath of olive branches was placed on the winner’s head (in Greek, this is called a kotinos). The olive tree was the sacred tree of Athens, Greece.

Women were neither allowed to compete in the games nor to watch them, because the games were dedicated to Zeus and were therefore meant for men.

The four-year period between the Olympic games was called an olympiad. Every four years, for 1,170 years, the Greeks held an Olympics, which continued to grow and change. Many other sports were added, including other races, wrestling, boxing and pentathlon. The Olympic games were banned by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius II in the year AD 394.

The Modern Olympic Games:
Over a fifteen hundred years later, Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (1863-1937) (a French educator and sportsman) revived the Olympic Games. An all-male Olympic games were held in 1896, in Athens, Greece. The first winter Olympics were held in 1924, in Chamonix, France.

The Flag of the Olympic Games:
The flag of the Olympic Games has five interlocking rings (blue, yellow, black, green, and red) on a white ground. The rings represent the five parts of the world that were joined together in the Olympic movement: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe. Baron de Coubertin designed the flag of the Olympics in 1913-1914.

The Olympic flag was first used in the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium. The Olympic flag is paraded during the opening ceremony of each Olympic Games. At the end of an Olympics, the mayor of the host-city presents the flag to the mayor of the next host-city. The flag will remain in the town hall of the next host-city until the next Olympic Games, four years later.

History of the Olympic Flame
The tradition of the Olympic flame began during the ancient Olympic Games, over 2700 years ago in Greece. A flame was lit for each Olympics, every four years, and it burned throughout the games. The flame symbolized the death and rebirth of Greek heroes. There was no torch relay in the ancient Olympics. The first torch relay took place at the 1936 games in Berlin, Germany.

The Olympic Motto:
The Olympic motto is, „Citius, Altius, Fortius,“ which means „Swifter, Higher, Stronger.“    Source: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/olympics/

Find out about the Olympic Winter Games 2010 in Vancouver on http://www.vancouver2010.com/

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