Olympic Games (from ancient Greek τὰ Ὀλύμπια ta Olýmpia "the Olympic Games" modern Greek ολυμπιακοί αγώνες olymbiakí agónes "Olympic competitions") is the collective term for regularly held sports competition events, the "Olympic Games" and "Olympic Winter Games". Athletes and teams compete against each other in different sports. They are organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Olympiad (from ολυμπιάδα) denotes a repeating period of four calendar years first beginning on January 1, 1896. The Summer Games are named after them, such as the 2020 Summer Olympics , which are officially the Games of the XXXII. Olympiad (the XXXII Olympiad began on January 1, 2020 and will last until December 31, 2023). The Olympic Games have grown steadily in scope, so that almost every country in the world is now represented by athletes. Alongside the soccer World Cup , they are currently considered the largest sporting event in the world.
The introduction of the modern Olympic Games was decided in 1894 as a re-establishment of the ancient festivals in Olympia at the suggestion of Pierre de Coubertin . As a "meeting of the youth of the world" they should serve the sporting comparison and international understanding, they replaced the Olympics , which had been taking place since 1856 . The Olympic Games have been held every four years since 1896 and the Winter Olympics since 1924 . Since 1994, the winter and summer games have alternated every two years. An exception is the 32nd Summer Olympics in Tokyo . These should have taken place as scheduled in 2020, but were postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic . The IOC also provides sponsorship for the Paralympics as competitions for disabled athletes , the Deaflympics , Special Olympics and the World Games for non-Olympic sports. In addition, since 2010 there have been the Youth Olympic Games , intended for youth aged 14 to 18.
Ancient Olympic Games
The origin of the ancient Olympic Games is probably in the 2nd millennium BC. The lists of winners go back to the year 776 BC. and in the 4th century B.C. reconstructed. The count after Olympiads was a measure of time throughout Ancient Greece . Contrary to a widespread misconception, “Olympics” is therefore not synonymous with “Olympic Games”, but designates the four-year period that begins with the Games. The Olympic Games, named for where they were held, Olympia in the northwestern Peloponnese peninsula , were part of a cycle that included three other Panhellenic Games : the Pythian Games at Delphi , the Nemean Games at Nemea , and the Isthmian Games on the Isthmus of Corinth .
In the early days there was only one race over the distance of the stadium (192.24 meters). The games became more and more important over time. However, they were not a "sporting event" in the modern sense, but a religious festival in honor of Zeus , the father of the gods , and the divine hero Pelops . In their heyday, the games lasted five days – the first day was marked by ritual ceremonies such as consecration services and the entry of the athletes, coaches, judges and spectators into the sacred grove of Olympia. In addition to the competitions – most recently there were 18 in the sports of athletics , heavy athletics , pentathlon and horseback riding – artistic competitions were just as important. The focus was not on sport as such, but on the religious component.
The actual games began with everyone involved moving to the Temple of Zeus . Here the athletes swore to abide by the rules of the Games. The winners received a wreath ( kotinos ) and a headband. They were considered "favoured by the gods" and immortalized in poems and statues. Every defeat, even a second or third place, was considered an inescapable shame. The losers returned home by secret routes to avoid the ridicule that awaited them. The most famous Olympian of antiquity is the wrestler Milon of Croton , the first known by name is Koroibos .
From today's perspective, the ancient games were extremely brutal, every participant in the classic martial arts (boxing, wrestling, stick fencing, pankration ) also had to reckon with death and in some cases fighters were declared winners for their perseverance after their death in the fight had been determined .
In 393, all pagan ceremonies, including the Olympic Games, were banned by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. However, the cult in Olympia was probably maintained until the beginning of the 5th century AD. Theodosius II finally banned the Olympic Games in 426. However, there is evidence that the competitions continued clandestinely and at a lower level thereafter, until natural disasters destroyed the place of worship in the 6th century.
The modern Olympic Games
The Olympic idea was not entirely lost. The Cotswold Olympic Games were held for the first time in western England at the beginning of the 17th century . Another attempt to revive the Olympic Games was the Olympiades de la République , held annually in revolutionary France from 1796 to 1798 . The use of the metric system in sport also dates back to this event. In 1850, Much Wenlock 's agricultural reading society in Shropshire , England , introduced an 'Olympic class'. Ten years later, the Wenlock Olympian Games developed from this , which are continued to this day under the name Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games . In 1866, William Penny Brookes , the chairman of the Wenlock Olympian Society, organized national Olympic games at London's Crystal Palace .
Greek interest in reintroducing the Olympic Games arose after the Greek Revolution against the rule of the Ottoman Empire . The poet and publisher Panagiotis Soutsos made the first suggestion in his poem Dialogue of the Dead, published in 1833. The Olympic Games , which in turn were modeled on the Munich Oktoberfest , are considered to be the most important forerunners of the modern Olympic Games . Created by the wealthy Greek merchant Evangelos Zappas , they were regarded by a royal decree of Otto I as a high-ranking national task that also received international attention. The first edition took place in 1859 in the center of Athens . Zappas had the Panathinaiko Stadium repaired, which was the venue for other Olympic Games until 1889.
revival of the games
After the sports and temple complexes of Olympia were rediscovered in 1766, large-scale archaeological excavations began in 1875, led by the German archaeologist and ancient historian Ernst Curtius . Around this time, the romantic-idealistic reception of antiquities became more and more fashionable in Europe; the desire for a revival of the Olympic spirit spread. As Baron Pierre de Coubertin said at the time: “Germany had unearthed what was left of ancient Olympia. Why shouldn't France restore its former glory?” According to de Coubertin, the lack of physical fitness among the soldiers was one of the main reasons for France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. He strove to improve this situation by making physical education compulsory in schools. At the same time he wanted to overcome national egoism and contribute to peace and international understanding. The "youth of the world" should compete in athletic competitions and not fight each other on the battlefield. In his eyes, reviving the Olympic Games seemed to be the best way to achieve these goals.
The Wenlock Olympian Games, which de Coubertin attended in 1890, encouraged him to believe that a large-scale reintroduction of the Olympic Games was possible. He took Brooke's and Zappas' ideas and added the principle of rotation between different host countries himself. De Coubertin presented his ideas to an international audience at a congress that took place from 16 to 23 June 1894 at the Sorbonne University in Paris and went down in history as the first Olympic congress . On the last day of the congress, the participants decided that the first modern Olympic Games should take place in Athens in 1896 , that is, in the country of origin. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was established to organize the Games . The Greek Dimitrios Vikelas became the first president , while de Coubertin initially served as general secretary.
The first modern games proved to be a great success. Although only around 250 athletes took part, it was a major sporting event. The Greek officials were so enthusiastic about the success that they suggested that the games should always be held in Greece in the future. But the IOC stuck to the principle of rotation between different countries.
After the initial success, the Olympic movement fell into a crisis. The games of 1900 in Paris and 1904 in St. Louis were embedded in the parallel world exhibitions . The competitions dragged on for several months, were poorly organized and hardly noticed, and only a few foreigners took part in St. Louis. At the Olympic Intermediate Games in Athens in 1906 , the focus was again on sporting competitions. The IOC reluctantly agreed to host it, but never officially recognized the results. Some sports historians regard these games as the salvation of the Olympic idea, as they prevented it from sinking into insignificance.
The winter sport of figure skating was on the schedule of summer games in 1908 and 1920, ice hockey in 1920. The IOC wanted to expand this list to cover other winter activities. At the 1921 Olympic Congress in Lausanne , the decision was made that the organizers of the 1924 Summer Games should also organize an "international winter sports week" under the auspices of the IOC. This "week" (actually eleven days) in Chamonix proved to be a great success, which is why the IOC decided in 1925 to retrospectively recognize it as the 1st Winter Olympic Games and to organize further events of this type in the same year as the Summer Games in the future.
In 1986 the IOC decided to open a separate cycle beginning in 1994 and to host the Winter Games "in the second calendar year following that in which the Games of the Olympiad are held".
Ludwig Guttmann strived to promote the rehabilitation of physically disabled soldiers of World War II and thus integrate them into society. In 1948 he organized a multi-sport competition between different hospitals. These Stoke Mandeville Games grew into an annual sporting event. Guttmann and others increased their public relations work until the first Paralympics finally took place in 1960. Since then, these have been held every four years (since 1976 also in winter). The venues for the Paralympics and the Olympic Games have been identical since 1988. Also recognized by the IOC are the Special Olympics for people with intellectual disabilities, which have been held since 1968, the Deaflympics for the deaf, introduced in 1924, and the World Games for non-Olympic sports, which have been held since 1981 and are widely used worldwide.
The Youth Olympic Games for young athletes aged 14 to 18 go back to an idea from IOC President Jacques Rogge . The decision to introduce it was made in 2007, the first Summer Youth Olympic Games were held in Singapore in 2010, and the Winter Youth Olympic Games were held in Innsbruck for the first time in 2012 .
Around 250 athletes from 14 countries took part in the first modern Olympic Games in 1896. The number of participants has steadily increased over the years. For example, at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing , over 11,000 athletes from 204 countries took part in 302 competitions. In comparison, the number of participants at the Winter Games is significantly lower. At the 2006 Winter Games in Turin , slightly more than 2,500 athletes from 80 countries were registered, who competed in 84 competitions.
The number of member countries of the IOC is 205 (see list in article National Olympic Committee ). It is higher than that of the countries recognized by the United Nations (currently 193). That means there are 13 other IOC members. This is because nations that do not meet the strict requirements for political sovereignty required by most other international organizations are also eligible. As a result, several colonies or dependent territories have their own delegations that participate separately from their mother countries.
A multitude of national and international sports organizations and federations, recognized media partners, as well as athletes, coaches, judges and any other person or organization committed to upholding the Olympic Charter form what is known as the Olympic Movement. Its umbrella organization is the International Olympic Committee (IOC) based in Lausanne , which has been chaired by Thomas Bach since 2013. The IOC holds the patronage of the Olympic movement and claims all rights to the Olympic symbols and the Games themselves. Its main responsibility lies in the supervision and co-organization of the Olympic Games and the Paralympics, the selection of the venues and the sports and the marketing of the broadcasting rights.
The Olympic movement consists of three main components:
- International sports federations such as B. the FIFA , the FIS or the UCI are responsible for the observance of the rules in their respective sports.
- National Olympic Committees represent the IOC in each member country and select the athletes to take part in the Games.
- Organizing committees of the Olympic Games plan and oversee the organization of the events in the individual Olympic cities. They only exist for a few years and are dissolved after the end of the event as soon as the official final report is available.
English and French are the official languages of the Olympic Movement. In addition, the official language of the respective host country is used for each event. Each proclamation is made in these three languages, or in the two main languages if the official language of a country is English or French.
Spiritual counsel travels with the delegations of some nations. For the German team it was the clergymen Hans-Gerd Schütt and Thomas Weber in 2004 in Athens, 2008 in Sydney and 2012 in London.
The host city of Olympic Games is determined seven years before the staging. The selection process consists of two phases that extend over two years. A city first applies to the NOK in its country. If more than one city in the same country submits a candidacy, the NOC carries out an internal selection, as the IOC may only present one city per country. After the nomination period has expired, the first phase begins. The city organizing committees will be asked to complete a detailed questionnaire on several key criteria related to the organization of Olympic Games. Candidate cities must give assurances that they will comply with the Olympic Charter and other regulations established by the IOC's Executive Committee. A specialized committee uses the questionnaires to assess the projects of all applicants and their potential to host the Games. Based on this evaluation, the IOC Executive Committee will determine those applicants who will advance to the second application phase.
In the second application phase, the cities must submit a more extensive and detailed project presentation to the IOC. Each city is analyzed in detail by the evaluation commission. Commissioners visit the candidate cities, where they interview representatives of local authorities and inspect the locations of proposed sports facilities. A month before the IOC's final decision, the Commission publishes a report containing its assessments. During the second phase, cities must also provide financial guarantees. After the evaluation report is available, the IOC Executive Committee compiles the final list of candidates. The allocation of the games takes place at the General Assembly of the IOC members; these meet in a city that is not in a country with a candidacy. The venue is finally determined in a secret ballot. After the election, the successful organizing committee (together with the NOC of the respective country) signs a contract (Host City Contract) with the IOC.
symbols and ceremonies
The Olympic movement uses several symbols protected worldwide (in Germany by the Olympiaschutzgesetz ) , which are stipulated by the Olympic Charter . The best known is the Olympic flag with the five intertwined rings of different colors on a white field. The six colors white, red, blue, green, yellow and black were chosen because the flag of every country in the world has at least one of these colors. Furthermore, the number of rings stands for the five continents (classic counting). The flag was designed in 1914 and has been flown in Antwerp since the 1920 Summer Games .
The official motto of the Olympic movement is citius, altius, fortius ( Latin for "faster, higher, stronger"). De Coubertin's ideals are best reflected in the Olympic credo : "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not victory but participation, just as the most important thing in life is not victory but the pursuit of a goal. The important thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.”
A few months before the games, the Olympic torch is lit at a historic site in Olympia in a ceremony based on ancient rituals . An actress dressed as a priestess ignites the torch using a parabolic mirror and hands it over to the first runner of the subsequent relay race. This run runs from Olympia to the main stadium of each host city, where the flame burns for the duration of the event. The Olympic flame was first lit at the 1928 Summer Games in Amsterdam . However, at that time there was no torch relay before the opening ceremony, nor was the fire lit by a specific person. According to an idea by Carl Diem , the first torch relay took place before the Summer Games in Berlin in 1936 , and the first torch relay in Oslo in 1952 on the occasion of the Winter Games.
Handing over an Olympic flag to the next host of the games has been customary in Paris since 1924 and is an integral part of the Olympic Games. First, the so-called Antwerp flag was handed over to the organizer of the current games during the closing ceremony. At the first games after the Second World War , in London in 1948 , an officer of the Scottish Guard first handed the flag to then-President Edstrom , who passed it on to the Mayor of London. This ceremonial was moved to the opening ceremony in 1960. Due to the refusal of the then Soviet Union to participate in the 1984 Games, the Mayor of the City of Los Angeles received the Antwerp flag from the hands of then IOC President Samaranch . At the closing ceremony, the flag was handed over to the Seoul delegation . Due to the increasing use of the historic flag, a new flag was commissioned in Seoul and has been passed on ever since.
Since the 1968 Winter Games in Grenoble , there has been an official Olympic mascot for promotional purposes , usually an animal species native to the host region, more rarely a human figure representing cultural heritage.
The opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games include a number of traditional elements set out in the Olympic Charter. The celebration usually begins with the raising of the flag and playing of the host country's national anthem . Various artistic performances (music, song, dance, theatre) follow, representing the culture of the host country. Its size and complexity has only grown over the years as each host country strives to surpass previous celebrations and leave a lasting impression. The opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing cost over 100 million dollars.
Then the marching of the participating athletes into the stadium begins, one athlete at a time takes a few steps ahead of the rest of his team and carries the flag of his country. At the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in 2021, a duo of Laura Ludwig and Patrick Hausding carried the German flag together for the first time. Since 1928, the Greek team has always been the first to march into the stadium to commemorate the ancient tradition. Then the other participating nations follow in alphabetical order of the main language of the host country. If the language of the host country does not have a fixed alphabet, the invasion will proceed according to the English or French language. In Beijing in 2008, the number of strokes in the Chinese character was decisive for the country name. The team from the host country concludes the march.
When all athletes have arrived, the chairman of the organizing committee gives a short speech. They are followed by the President of the IOC, who at the end of his speech introduces the Head of State of the host country. This in turn formally opens the games. Next, the Olympic anthem is played while the Olympic flag is carried into the stadium (since 1960). Afterwards, the flag bearers of all participating countries gather around a podium. On this, an athlete (since 1920) and a referee (since 1972) speak the Olympic oath , with which they promise to comply with the rules.
Finally, the penultimate runner of the relay race carries the Olympic torch into the stadium and hands it over to the last runner. This, often a well-known and successful athlete from the host country, then ignites the fire in a large bowl with a torch. From 1920 peace doves were also released; however, this item was canceled after some pigeons were burned in the Olympic flame in Seoul in 1988.
Athletes (or teams) who place first, second or third in an Olympic competition are presented with medals as an award. At the award ceremony, the athletes stand on a pedestal and the national anthem of the winning country is played.
The winner receives a gold medal. These are silver medals with a gold coating; the IOC stipulates that the medal must be at least 92.5% silver and contain six grams of gold. Second place will receive a medal of at least 92.5% silver , third place will receive a bronze medal . In some competitions played in a knockout format (e.g. boxing ), bronze medals are awarded to both semi-final losers.
In 1896 and 1900 only the top two were awarded medals (silver for first and bronze for second). In 1904, the winner received a gold medal for the first time, the other medal colors were moved down one place. Since 1948, the athletes in places 4 to 6 have received Olympic diplomas (since 1976 also the three medal winners). Since 1984, the seventh and eighth places have also received diplomas. This was not only to recognize all participants in a quarter-final, it also eliminated the need to fight for places 5 to 8 in competitions with a knockout system.
The closing ceremony takes place when all the athletic competitions are over. Since 1956, the closing ceremonies have been far less formal and structured than the opening ceremonies. Again, the athletes march into the stadium, but this time not sorted by country, but a colorful mix. This symbolizes the connection between the athletes after the end of the competition. The IOC President gives a speech emphasizing the success of the Games. He then hands over the Olympic Order to members of the Organizing Committee and declares the Games over; at the same time he calls on “the youth of the world” to gather again in four years. Traditionally, three flags are flown, those of Greece, the current and the next host country. In addition, since 1984 the Olympic flag has been handed over to the mayor of the next Olympic city in Los Angeles . Finally, the Olympic anthem will be played and the Olympic flame will be extinguished. The host of the next Olympic Games will then introduce itself with a short cultural performance. At the end of the 20th century, it became common practice for a rock and pop concert to follow, but this was no longer part of the official part.
The current program of the Olympic Games includes a total of 35 sports, 28 of them in summer and seven in winter. With this counting method of the IOC, the sports are summarized according to sports associations. If these are divided up as usual, there are 41 summer sports and 15 winter sports (see Olympic sports ). Track and field , swimming , fencing and artistic gymnastics were included in the program of all summer games . At all Winter Games competitions in Nordic skiing , speed skating , figure skating and ice hockey were held, the latter two also at summer games before 1924. Until 1992, competitions in so-called demonstration sports were often held . The intention was to introduce these sports to a larger audience. The winners of these competitions are not considered official Olympic champions . Some sports were only popular in the respective host countries, while others are practiced worldwide. Some of these demonstration sports, such as curling and taekwondo , were eventually included in the official program.
The Olympic sports are regulated by international sports federations, which the IOC recognizes as global supervisory authorities. 35 sports associations are currently represented in the IOC. In addition, due to worldwide distribution and compliance with certain standards, the IOC recognizes various sports federations that are not represented in the official competition program with competitions (see list of international federations recognized by the IOC ). As part of a program revision at an IOC session, such sports can be included in the official program or excluded with a two-thirds majority of the IOC members.
In 2004, the IOC formed a commission (Olympic Program Commission) charged with assessing the Olympic program and all non-Olympic sports of the recognized federations. The aim was to define a systematic approach for planning the program of future Olympic Games. The commission established seven criteria against which a sport to be included will be measured: history and tradition of the sport, distribution, popularity, health of the athletes, development of the responsible sports association and costs of hosting. This procedure was used for the first time in 2005, when the IOC Executive Committee recommended five sports at the session in Singapore . Squash and karate were shortlisted but did not receive the necessary two-thirds majority to enter the official program. Four years later, at the 2009 Olympic Congress in Copenhagen , the sports golf and rugby 7s , which have been part of the program since 2016, were successful.
At its 2002 session in Mexico City , the IOC decided to limit the Summer Olympics program to 28 sports, 301 competitions and 10,500 athletes. The first comprehensive program revision was carried out in Singapore three years later. The decision was made to remove baseball and softball from the 2012 Summer Games program. Since the IOC members could not agree on the inclusion of two other sports as a substitute, only 26 sports were on the program in 2012. With the addition of golf and rugby, the number has increased to 28 since 2016. Skateboarding competitions will also be held from 2020.
Amateur status and professional sport
Pierre de Coubertin was significantly influenced by the aristocratic ethos exemplified in English private schools. In her view, sport was an important part of education; an attitude expressed in the idiom mens sana in corpore sano (Latin: "a healthy mind in a healthy body"). According to this ethos, a gentleman was a person who is good at many things but not the best at a particular field. Also prevalent was the concept of fairness , which equated practice or training with cheating. Professional athletes thus had a reputation for gaining an unfair advantage over amateurs .
The exclusion of professionals from participation in the Olympic Games resulted in repeated controversies and sensational conflicts about the exclusion or admission of athletes. For example, Jim Thorpe , the 1912 Olympic pentathlon and decathlon champion , was disqualified after it was revealed that he had previously played baseball semi-professionally; it was not until 1983 that the IOC rehabilitated him. Skiers from Switzerland and Austria stayed away from the 1936 Winter Games to show their solidarity with the ski instructors, who, according to the IOC's directives, were not eligible to participate as professional athletes. IOC President Avery Brundage disfellowshipped Austrian skier Karl Schranz shortly before the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo for violating amateur status. When Schranz returned to Vienna , tens of thousands of people gave him a heroic welcome.
The aristocratic amateur rules were increasingly evidently overtaken by the development of the sport and were increasingly seen as hypocrisy. In particular, athletes from communist-ruled countries were actually state employees (" state amateurs ") who were effectively given the opportunity to devote themselves fully to the sport and were therefore amateurs in name only. Furthermore, athletes in western countries had the opportunity to concentrate exclusively on training as sports soldiers . Even athletes from financially secure social classes were able to devote themselves to preparing for competitions without having to work. Nevertheless, the IOC remained undeterred by its amateur status for a long time.
Beginning in the late 1970s, the amateur rules were relaxed and eventually abolished entirely in the 1990s. The most visible sign of this change of heart was the admission of the " Dream Team ," made up entirely of well-paid NBA stars , that overwhelmingly won the 1992 basketball gold medal. From 2004 to 2016 boxing was the only sport in which professionals were not allowed, although even here the amateur status related to the rules of the fight and not to the payment. Professional boxers have also been allowed to compete since 2016. In the men's football tournament (but not in the women's), the number of players over the age of 23 is limited to three per team.
The IOC initially opposed funding from sponsors . It was only after the resignation of Avery Brundage , who was considered very principled , in 1972 that the IOC began to explore the potential of the medium of television and the associated lucrative advertising market. Under the presidency of Juan Antonio Samaranch , the IOC increasingly adapted to the needs of international sponsors wishing to promote their products with the Olympic name and branding.
The marketing of the Olympic trademarks is controversial. The main point of criticism is that the Olympic Games can no longer be distinguished from other commercialized sports spectacles. The IOC has been criticized for saying that the 1996 and 2000 Summer Games in particular saw market saturation and the host cities were flooded with companies and retailers looking to sell their Olympic products. The IOC promised to counteract overmarketing in the future. Another criticism addresses the fact that the Olympic Games are funded by the host cities and the governments of the respective countries. The IOC does not cover the costs, but controls all rights, benefits from the Olympic symbols and takes a share of all sponsorship and media revenues. However, cities continue to bid for the right to host Olympic Games, although they have no certainty that their costs will be covered. The most important thing for them is the global appeal.
In the first half of the 20th century, the IOC had only a small budget. Avery Brundage rejected any attempts to link the Olympics to commercial interests. He was convinced that corporate interests would have an unacceptable impact on the IOC's decisions. Brundage's rejection of this source of income meant that the organizing committees of individual games negotiated sponsorship deals themselves. When he resigned in 1972, the IOC was worth $ 2 million . Eight years later, that figure had grown to $45 million as the IOC took a far more permissive stance on sponsorship and the sale of broadcasting rights . When Juan Antonio Samaranch took office as President in 1980, he was determined to make the IOC financially self-sufficient.
The 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles marked a turning point. The LAOOC organizing committee, led by Peter Ueberroth , managed to generate a previously unimaginable surplus of USD 225 million through the sale of exclusive marketing rights. The IOC sought to secure this sponsorship revenue for itself. Samaranch created the exclusive sponsorship program The Olympic Program (TOP) in 1985. Participants in TOP receive worldwide marketing rights for their product category and can use the Olympic symbols in their advertising.
For the host cities and countries, the Olympic Games offer a prestigious opportunity to showcase and promote themselves to the world. The 1936 Summer Games in Berlin were the first to be televised , but coverage via Paul Nipkow television station was limited. The 1956 Winter Games in Cortina d'Ampezzo were the first to reach an international audience, and in 1960 television stations paid for the broadcasting rights for the first time. In the decades that followed, the Olympics evolved into an ideological front in the Cold War . Due to the competition between the political systems at the sporting level, media interest increased, from which the IOC in turn benefited. The sale of broadcasting rights enabled him to spread the word about the Olympic Games and thereby generate even more interest. This, in turn, was attractive to companies buying advertising time on television. Through this cycle, the IOC has been able to demand higher and higher fees for these rights.
Viewership increased exponentially from the 1960s to the end of the century. An estimated 600 million television viewers watched the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City . By 1984 in Los Angeles that number had risen to 900 million, and by 1992 in Barcelona it was already 3.5 billion. However, at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney , NBC recorded its lowest ratings since 1968. This was due to two factors: on the one hand, greater competition from cable channels, on the other hand, the Internet, which could deliver pictures and results in real time. American television stations in particular still rely on time-shifted transmissions, a concept that is rapidly becoming obsolete in the information age. In view of the high costs of broadcasting rights and the competition from new media, the television lobby demanded concessions. The IOC reacted with various changes to the competition program. For example, the popular swimming and gymnastics competitions have been spread over more days. Finally, in some cases, the American television lobby could also dictate when certain competitions were held, so that they could be shown live during prime time in the United States.
Contrary to Pierre de Coubertin's hopes, the Olympic Games did not prevent wars from breaking out. In fact, several events could not be held: the 1916 Summer Games were canceled because of the First World War , the Summer and Winter Games of 1940 and 1944 because of the Second World War .
The National Socialists successfully used the 1936 Winter Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the 1936 Summer Games in Berlin as a propaganda forum to improve Germany's image abroad and to feign good will and peace. The alleged superiority of the " Aryan race" was also to be demonstrated, which, however, did not succeed in view of the successes of Jesse Owens . Anti-Semitic slogans were temporarily removed and the hate leaflet Der Stürmer was not allowed to be publicly displayed in kiosks for the duration of the games.
The Soviet Union did not participate in the Olympic Games until 1952. On the other hand, from 1928 she organized Spartakiads . Workers' Olympics were held several times during the interwar period . These events were alternatives to the Olympics, which were seen as capitalist and aristocratic. Several recently independent (mostly socialist) states held back-to-back events in the 1960s, never recognized by the IOC. They were called GANEFO ( Games of the New Emerging Forces ) and took place in Jakarta in 1963 and in Phnom Penh in 1966 . The Chinese Cultural Revolution prevented the third edition in 1969.
Ten days before the opening of the 1968 Summer Games in Mexico City , the Tlatelolco Massacre occurred , when between 300 and 500 students were killed in the brutal crackdown on student protests. A comparatively minor political incident occurred at these games when two American track and field athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos , held up their black-gloved fists during the awards ceremony in the 200-meter dash. It was the symbol of the Black Power movement , which opposed discrimination against African Americans in the United States . The IOC gave the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) the choice of either sending the two athletes home or withdrawing the entire athletics team. The USOC chose the former.
During the 1972 Summer Games in Munich , the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September captured eleven members of the Israeli team, two of whom were murdered by the terrorists. A failed rescue operation at the Fürstenfeldbruck airfield resulted in the deaths of all the hostages, five of the terrorists and a police officer. The hostage-taking in Munich was remembered around the world as the "Munich massacre". IOC President Avery Brundage campaigned for the continuation of the games, his famous saying "The games must go on" ("The games must go on"). The tragic event has been filmed several times, for example by Kevin Macdonald ( One Day in September , 1999) and Steven Spielberg ( Munich , 2005).
The Soviet Union attempted to sabotage the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles . She sent threatening letters, purportedly from the Ku Klux Klan , to the National Olympic Committees of 11 Asian and African nations, threatening to shoot and lynch the athletes, especially black people. However, it was quickly proven that the letters were forged.
A bomb exploded in Atlanta 's Centennial Olympic Park during the 1996 Summer Games . Two people died and 111 were injured. The bombshell was planted by Eric Rudolph , who is close to the racist Christian Identity movement . After nearly seven years on the run, he was arrested in 2003. First, security guard Richard Jewell had been accused and prejudged in an unprecedented media campaign.
The Caucasus War between Georgia and Russia broke out on the opening day of the 2008 Beijing Summer Games . In the women's air pistol competition, Russia's Natalya Paderina won the silver and Georgia's Nino Salukvadze the bronze. Both women hugged and kissed demonstratively on the winner's podium and thus sent a well-received signal against the war.
The buzzword Olympic boycott refers to the decision of individual countries or groups of countries not to take part in the Olympic Games. The modern Olympic Games have been boycotted several times by one or more states, mostly for political reasons .
The first attempt at an Olympic boycott was made in the run-up to the 1896 games. Under the motto "Olympic participation is treason to the fatherland", nationalist circles tried to prevent German participation in the Olympics, but this failed. Ideologically influenced by the Franco-German hereditary enmity , they were bothered by the person of Pierre de Coubertin and by the idea of international sporting events, which was still unfamiliar at the time. When the National Socialists came to power, efforts were made in various countries to boycott the 1936 Olympic Games. The discussion was most intense in the USA, where the American sports association AAU finally decided to participate with a majority of only three votes. Participation would hardly have been possible without the signature of the sports association, as only the association could confirm the athlete's amateur status. The Netherlands , Spain and Switzerland boycotted the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne in protest at the Soviet Union 's suppression of the Hungarian People's Uprising . Because of the Suez crisis in the same year, Egypt , Iraq , Cambodia and Lebanon also stayed away from this event.
In 1972 and 1976 a large number of African countries threatened a boycott if the IOC refused to exclude South Africa and Rhodesia from the Games. In both cases, the IOC gave in to take a stand against racial discrimination. In 1976, the Africans also called for New Zealand to be excluded from the Games. The New Zealand national rugby union team played in South Africa, breaking the sporting ban against the apartheid regime . However, because rugby union was not an Olympic sport at the time, the IOC refused to exclude all New Zealand athletes. As a result, 28 African countries withdrew their teams from Montreal (some athletes had already been deployed). Only Iraq and Guyana showed solidarity with the Africans. Under pressure from the People's Republic of China , the Canadian government informed the Republic of China team that they could not compete under that name. The Taiwan compromise proposal met with rejection and the Republic of China decided not to take part. Only since 1984 has it participated again under the name Chinese Taipei , with a flag specially designed by the IOC for this purpose.
In 1980 and 1984, the Cold War superpowers boycotted each other's games in each other's countries. The US refused to participate in the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow ; The reason was the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan a year earlier. With the Federal Republic of Germany, Canada , Norway and Turkey , four of the 15 allied NATO countries followed the call of the Americans, as did 37 other NOK mainly from Third World or Islamic countries. On the other hand, the majority of Western countries such as Great Britain , Italy , France , Spain or Austria decided against a boycott and opted for a differentiated form of protest, for example not taking part in the opening or closing event or using the Olympic flag instead of their national flag. A further 24 NOK decided not to take part for financial or sporting reasons or left the invitation unanswered, so that in the end 66 countries stayed away from the games in Moscow.
The Soviet Union , in turn, did not participate in the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles . She justified this with alleged lack of safety of her athletes in the face of hostile sentiment and anti-Soviet hysteria in the US. In fact, at the latest after the downing of the South Korean passenger plane by the Soviet air force on September 1, 1983, there were increased actions by anti-communist groups, which finally culminated in the merger of the “Ban the Soviets” coalition. In addition, a resolution against "Soviet aggression" was unanimously approved in the Californian Congress and Senate , which aimed, among other things, for the exclusion of Soviet athletes from the upcoming Olympic Games. Despite further confrontations, for example the Soviet Olympic attaché was denied accreditation because of alleged KGB membership, two US presidents guaranteed that all athletes accepted by the IOC could enter the country unhindered. In the end, the Soviet leadership stuck to its course, which, however, was anything but uncontroversial among the allies. Romania , as an Eastern bloc country , assured the IOC that it would participate, and the GDR also tried to circumvent the Soviet decision until the end, but finally gave in so as not to further strain the then strained relations with Moscow. In the end, 19 NOK joined the boycott initiated by Iran in 1982. In 1984, the boycotting states held the friendship competitions as a counter-event.
After the third major boycott of the Olympic Games, the IOC passed a resolution at an extraordinary meeting in early December 1984, in which it was described as a "principal duty of a National Olympic Committee" to ensure the participation of its country's athletes in the Olympic Games. On the other hand, a proposal made by Greece in 1976 to hold the Olympic Games permanently on a neutral territory on Greek national territory in order to prevent future political interference was rejected. Nevertheless, it was not possible to prevent North Korea from boycotting the upcoming 1988 Summer Games in the South Korean capital Seoul because, contrary to earlier promises, the country had not been considered as a co-host. Negotiations about holding individual competitions in North Korea had dragged on for three years and finally failed without result. Ethiopia , Cuba and Nicaragua also stayed away out of solidarity with North Korea. Before the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, there were calls for a boycott in various countries because of the People's Republic of China's violent policy on Tibet and the suppression of human rights there , but ultimately without result.
- 1920 - Antwerp : Germany, Austria, Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary
- 1924 - Paris : Germany
- 1924 - Chamonix : Germany
- 1948 – London : Germany, Japan
- 1948 - St Moritz : Germany, Japan
- 1964 – Tokyo : South Africa
- 1964 – Innsbruck : South Africa
- 1968 – Mexico City : South Africa, Rhodesia
- 1968 – Grenoble : South Africa, Rhodesia
- 1972 – Munich : South Africa, Rhodesia
- 1972 – Sapporo : South Africa, Rhodesia
- 1976 – Montreal : South Africa, Rhodesia
- 1976 – Innsbruck : South Africa, Rhodesia
- 1980 – Moscow : South Africa
- 1980 – Lake Placid : South Africa
- 1984 – Los Angeles : South Africa
- 1984 – Sarajevo : South Africa
- 1988 – Seoul : South Africa
- 1988 – Calgary : South Africa
- 1992 – Barcelona : Yugoslavia
- 1994 – Lillehammer : Yugoslavia
- 2014 – Sochi : India (repealed during Games)
- 2016 – Rio de Janeiro : Kuwait
- 2018 – Pyeongchang : Russia
- 2021 – Tokyo : Russia
The steady growth and increasing international importance of the Olympic Games also led to numerous intergovernmental problems. In the past, the IOC has come under increased pressure. It has been criticized as an immobile, inflexible, commercial and non-transparent organization. The presidencies of Avery Brundage and Juan Antonio Samaranch were particularly controversial . Brundage had to put up with criticism that he was racist and anti-Semitic. Under Samaranch, the IOC was considered autocratic and corrupt. His close ties to the Franco regime and his lengthy 21-year tenure (he only resigned at the age of 81) were also grounds for criticism. Another cause for criticism was the fact that many IOC members were very old and some remained in office until their death.
In 1998 it was revealed that several IOC members had been bribed into voting for Salt Lake City in the selection of the 2002 Winter Games venue . The IOC conducted an inquiry which resulted in four members resigning and six others being expelled. Dealing with the scandal led to reforms. Among other things, the selection process was changed to avoid further bribery. The IOC appointed numerous current and former athletes to membership and limited tenure.
In August 2004, the BBC broadcast a documentary entitled Buying the Games . He investigated allegations of corruption in connection with the awarding of the 2012 Summer Games and showed that it was still possible to bribe IOC members into choosing a particular city.
One of the main problems in sport in general is illicit performance enhancement through doping . At the beginning of the 20th century, many athletes began using drugs; so the use of cocaine was widespread. Thomas Hicks , winner of the 1904 Summer Games marathon , was given brandy laced with strychnine by his trainer during the race . As athletes and coaches resorted to ever more extreme means, those responsible gradually realized that these methods were no longer compatible with the ideal of "health through sport".
Not least because of this incident, several sports associations began doping tests in the mid-1960s , and the IOC followed suit in 1967. The first athlete to test positive for banned substances was Swede Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall in 1968 , who had to return his bronze medal in the modern pentathlon due to ingestion of alcohol . Since then, dozens of athletes have been transferred, including several medalists. The Canadian Ben Johnson caused the biggest scandal : he had become Olympic champion in the 100-meter dash in 1988 with a new world record , but then tested positive for stanozolol . Despite the tests, many athletes used doping without ever being convicted. Documents unearthed in 1990 showed that numerous East German athletes had been deliberately doped with anabolic steroids and other drugs by their supervisors on government orders .
At the end of the 1990s, the IOC began to better organize the fight against doping; the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) started its work in 1999. From 2000, the stricter controls by WADA meant that significantly more athletes could be convicted, especially in weightlifting and cross-country skiing . The anti-doping standards specified by the IOC now serve as a model for other sports associations around the world and are also being incorporated into the anti-doping laws of various countries.
After the 2014 Winter Olympics , journalists in Russia uncovered a system of state doping. WADA then commissioned independent investigator Richard McLaren to prepare an investigation report. The McLaren Report was published on July 18, 2016 and confirmed Russian state doping. As a result, WADA recommended Russia's collective exclusion from the 2016 Olympic Games . Nevertheless, the IOC gave 271 of the 389 Russian athletes permission to start, only in athletics and weightlifting were no Russian athletes allowed to compete. The Russian whistleblower Julija Igorewna Stepanova , on the other hand, was not allowed to start because, according to the IOC, she did not meet the ethical requirements for an Olympic athlete. The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturned the IOC's decision to ban Russian athletes from the Games who had previously been banned for doping . Russian swimmer Yulia Efimova , who had previously been banned twice for doping, became the target of international protest after winning the silver medal in the 100m breaststroke. During the games, several swimmers accused each other of doping.
Olympic champion and medalist
The Olympic Games offer previously lesser-known athletes the opportunity to rise to become nationally and internationally recognized athletes. Because the Olympic Games are only held every four years, they enjoy a higher prestige among spectators and athletes than world championships, which often take place on an annual or biennial basis. Many athletes have become celebrities in their respective countries, some even worldwide, after winning the Olympics. Comparing the performance of athletes in different sports and at different times is of limited value. However, based on the number of gold medals, the following athletes can be considered the most successful (not counting the 1906 Olympic Intermediates):
|Michael Phelps||United States||to swim||2004-2016||23||3||2||28|
|Larisa Latynina||Soviet Union||apparatus gymnastics||1956-1964||9||5||4||18|
|Mark Spitz||United States||to swim||1968-1972||9||1||1||11|
|Carl Lewis||United States||athletics||1984-1996||9||1||–||10|
|Marit Bjorgen||Norway||cross country skiing||2002-2018||8th||4||3||15|
|Ole Einar Bjørndalen||Norway||biathlon||1998-2014||8th||4||1||13|
|Bjorn Daehlie||Norway||cross country skiing||1992-1998||8th||4||–||12|
|Sawao Katō||Japan||apparatus gymnastics||1968-1976||8th||3||1||12|
|Jenny Thompson||United States||to swim||1992-2004||8th||3||1||12|
|Matt Biondi||United States||to swim||1984-1992||8th||2||1||11|
- Most successful medalists of the German-speaking countries
- The most successful German athlete is Birgit Fischer , who won eight gold and four silver medals in canoeing from 1980 to 2004 .
- The most successful Austrian is Felix Gottwald with three gold medals, one silver medal and three bronze medals from 2002 to 2010 in Nordic combined .
- Georges Miez won the most medals for Switzerland (4 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze in artistic gymnastics from 1924 to 1936).
- Hanni Wenzel is the most successful athlete from Liechtenstein (2 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze in alpine skiing at the 1976 and 1980 games).
- Josy Barthel is the most successful athlete from Luxembourg (1 gold in athletics in 1952 in Helsinki).
- Bids for the Summer Olympics
- Bids for Olympic Winter Games
- List of Olympic medalists lists
- List of participating teams in Summer Olympics
- List of participating teams in Winter Olympics
- Paralympic Games
- Youth Olympic Games
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