August 24, 2000
The modern Olympics
"The most important thing in the Olympics is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph as the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well." - Baron de Coubertin.
Perhaps no other statement symbolizes the spirit of the Modern Olympics as that one made by Frenchman Pierre Fredy, the Baron de Coubertin. He is also known as the Father of Modern Olympics and deservedly so, for it was his vision that saw the formation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that led to the staging of the first edition of the Modern Games in Athens in 1896.
The IOC was established as an independent, international, sovereign organization that was assured of continuity. It had arbitrary powers and was the supreme power in the Olympic Movement. The membership of the IOC has increased from 15 in 1894 to 93 today.
However, the IOC was not the sole reason for the revival of the Games. The spirit of the Games was released, so to peak, when excavators and archaeologists unveiled the ruins of Olympia. Since then, efforts were made from 1859 to 1892 to stage the Games but without success.
At this point, Coubertin entered the scene and his persistence saw the IOC overcome the several organizational, technical and diplomatic difficulties and stage the first of the Modern Olympics in 1896. Coubertin was also the designer of the Olympic flag: an emblem of five interlaced rings of different colours (symbolizing the five continents) on a white background.
Although the Olympics have been held with great success during the years, it has been beset with political problems right through. From the two World Wars to apartheid; from the boycotts '76, '80 and '84 by various nations to the banning of China and Indonesia; from rioting students in Mexico (1968) to 'Black September' in Munich (1972); international political wrangles have disturbed not only the Games but the very spirit of it.
There have been other issues as well. Issues such as the amateur vs. professional debate, the use of drugs, taking advantage of technological advancements, showcasing ideologies (Nazism, Communism etc) and the Games' increasing commercialization.
But sport is a winner and the Olympic Games have come out stronger because of all its trials. Here is a chronological look at some of the important milestones in the history of the modern Games:
What are the Olympics without the events themselves? Here is a look at when some of the events were first introduced or re-introduced into the games. However all of these dates apply to women only.
By the same token, several sports have been demonstrated at the Olympics but not included permanently. Some of these are American Football, Australian Rules football, gliding, pelota and baseball.
Furthermore, several have been held at the Games but then discontinued for various reasons. Some of these unfortunate sports are Rugby Football, polo, cricket, golf, tug-of-war, 60 metres, free style javelin, and two-hand discus and shot put.
Mail Sports Editor
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