The beginning of the Olympic Games can be traced back to 776 B.C. with the venue for the games taking place in Olympia, Greece. The games were dedicated to Olympian gods and continued to feature in the Roman Empire until 393 A.D when they were banned by the Roman Emperor Theodosius. The games had a millennium and half hiatus before they were re-established by the head of the International Olympic Committee Pierre de Coubertin. The first Olympic games of the modern era were held in Athens, Greece, in 1896 in honour of the birthplace of the games. However, the first winter Olympics was held in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
Number Of Participants
The number of participants and countries represented in the summer and winter Olympic Games has increased with time. However, the summer games have far more participants than the winter Olympics have. For instance, the number of participants at the 2008 Olympic games held in Beijing was 10,942. 204 countries were represented in that event. On the other hand, approximately 2,500 athletes representing 82 nations participated in the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver, Canada.
The summer games have considerable wider range of events than the winter games. The number of programs featured in the Beijing Olympics was 302 across 28 sports. The Vancouver winter Olympics had 86 events across 15 sports.
Some of the most popular events in the summer games include gymnastics, track and field, cycling, swimming, boxing and weightlifting. While the most popular games in the Winter Olympics include biathlon, skiing, alpine skiing, speed skating, and ski jumping.
No city has hosted the winter and Summer Olympics in the same year. This is because the environmental factors required for summer games vary from those required for winter games and vice versa. The winter games are usually held in smaller, less known cities while the summer games have traditionally been held in larger, more recognised cities.
Some of the cities that have hosted the winter games include Sochi, Russia, St. Moritz, Switzerland, Innsbruck, Austria, Lake Placid, New York and others. Sochi has hosted the events once while the rest have hosted the Winter Olympics twice.
Some of the cities that have hosted the summer games include London, Los Angeles, Athens and Paris. These are the only cities that have been the venues of Summer Olympics on two occasions. London has been the host of the Summer Olympics three times.
The Olympic Games have witnessed their fair share of controversies. In 1956, Spain, Switzerland and Netherlands withdrew from the Summer Olympics in protest of the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Other countries including Egypt, China, Lebanon and Iraq also withdrew from this Olympics.
More than 20 African countries boycotted the 1976 Summer Olympics held in Montreal. 60 nations refused to participate in the 1980 Olympics in Moscow as a result of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The Soviet Union declined to participate in the 1984 Olympics held in Los Angeles because of safety concerns.
In 1988, North Korea, a bitter rival of South Korea, refused to participate in the summer games held in Seoul because South Korea did not want to co-host the event with its northern neighbours. In contrast, the Winter Olympics has not had so many controversies. The only time a nation refused to participate in the Winter Olympics was in 1980, when Taiwan boycotted the events.
The Winter Olympics are televised the world over. Many families remain glued to their televisions sets to watch Hockey games and other Winter Olympics games. The events are a fun treat for many families. Watching televised Winter Olympics games is a great way to avoid the cold during those days when playing outdoors is not an option.
David Willis is a ski instructor who helps people to book ski holidays through Dare 2 Ski. When he’s not on the slopes he loves watching the Winter Olympics.