n the ancient times, four great game festivals were held on Greek land: The Isthmians, The Nemeans, The Pythians and The Olympic Games. Part of a religious festival, the Olympic Games were held every four years at Olympia. The four year interval was called an Olympiad, and was the system upon which time in ancient Greek history was calculated. The games were so important that even wars were stopped at the time they were held.
The first Olympic Games were held in 776 B.C. At first, only one race (the sprint) was run. Later, the discus and javelin throw, broad jumping and wrestling were added. The Olympic Games were held for more than 1,000 years. They were abolished by the Byzantine Emperor Theodosius in 394 A.D.
The Games were revived in 1896 to promote understanding and friendship among nations. The first modern games were held in Athens, Greece. Young men and women come from all over the world to compete in various sports and represent their country. They live in an Olympic Village at the site of the games.
The Olympic Games are organized and governed by the International Olympic Commitee (IOC). It sets the general program, chooses the city where the games are to be held, and determines the standards of amateurism. Each participating country has a National Olympic Commitee that is responsible for arranging the participation of the nation's athletes in the games.
The opening ceremony of each Olympic Games is held in a major stadium. The president of the host nation usually officiates. Led by athletes from Greece, all athletes march around the stadium in the parade of Nations. Then, facing the Olympic Flag, the athletes take the Olympic Oath:
We swear that we will take part in these Olympic Games
in the true spirit of sportsmanship, and that we will
respect and abide by the rules that govern them, for
the glory of sport and the honor of our country.
The Olympic Flame is lit with a torch that is brought by a relay of athletes from the ruins of ancient Olympia in Greece. When the Games are completed, the flag is lowered and the flame extinguished.