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Today in History, April, 6, 1896
First Modern Olympic Games Were held in Athens, Greece

1896 Summer Olympics The Games of the First Olympiad, was a multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece, from April 6 to 15, 1896. It was the first international Olympic Games held in our modern era. Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, so Athens was considered to be an appropriate choice to stage the first modern Games. It was unanimously chosen as the host city during a congress in Paris, on 23 June 1894, organised by Pierre de Coubertin, a dogmatic French historian determined to bring back the Olympics. The International Olympic Committee was also instituted during this congress.

There is no record of torch lighting or the fanfare we associate with the Olympics today. On that 6th of April, 1896, it was Easter Monday, the streets of Athens were even more animated than usual. All of the public buildings were draped in bunting, while multi-coloured streamers floated in the wind and green wreaths decked many of the house fronts. Everywhere one looked, one saw the letters “0. A.” (the Greek initials of the Olympic Games) and the dates “BC 776, AD 1896”, indicating the first year of the ancient Games and the first year of their modern reincarnation.

At two o'clock in the afternoon the 60,000-strong crowd began to make their way the Panathenaic Stadium, the venue for the Opening Ceremony and the track and field programme. Originally built in 330BC, the stadium had been excavated several decades earlier but was then abandoned in a state of disrepair. However, thanks in large measure to the financial support of Georgios Averoff, a wealthy Egyptian Greek, it was magnificently restored with white marble.

All in all over 300 athletes – all of them male – converged on Athens to compete...

You can explore more about the first modern Olympics here, at the Olympics website



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