Olympics: The History of This Worldwide Sporting Event


Tokyo 2020 officially kicked off over the weekend — albeit a year late! With nearly every nation now represented, the Olympics promotes sportsmanship and national pride. Because it moves every two years, it provides the opportunity for the host city to show off their country to the world. In today’s blog, we’ll talk about the history of this sporting event. Plus, highlight the Paralympics in honour of Disability Pride Month

The History of the Olympics

To begin our story, we must first travel to Ancient Greece. 

The Games occurred every fours year at the holy place of Zeus in Olympia, Greece. Competition was among representatives of several city-states and kingdoms of the country. The origins of this idea is mysterious and legendary.

After Heracles completed his twelve labours, he built the Olympic Stadium in honour of Zeus. Following this, he walked in a straight line for 200 steps. He named it a “stadion”. This later became a unit of distance. 

Historically, the inception date of the Ancient Olympics is 776BC. Inscriptions listing the winners of a footrace held every four years deduce this. Alongside sporting events, there were religious sacrifices honouring Zeus. The Games reached their height in the 6th and 5th centuries BC. However, they declined importance as the Romans gained power and influence. It is assume that the decree to eliminate all pagan cults and practises caused the official end of the Ancient Games.

The Modern Games

Since the 17th century, the term “Olympic” described athletic events . Greek interest in reviving the Games began with the Greek War of Independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821. Funded by a wealthy philanthropic, the ancient Panathenaic Stadium was restored to host the event. Thus, the Olympics were held in 1870 and 1875 respectively. After the 1890 Games, the International Olympic Committee was founded. It aimed to establish internationally rotation games that happened every four years. 

Although they set off to a rocky start when shown in other cities, eventually interest picked up for the Games. With it came the the birth of the Winter Olympics, The Youth Games, and the Paralympics. 

The Paralympics

The Paralympics run in parallel to the Olympics and saw their first events in 1948. Hence, the name “Parallel Olympics” becoming Paralympics. Originally, it was to promote the rehabilitation of soldiers after World War II. Eventually, evolving as an effort to use sports as an avenue to healing. 

Expanding beyond injured veterans, these Games involve athletes with a range of disabilities. Shown with the colours red, blue, and green, their motto is “Spirit in Motion”. Its shape is an Agito — Latin for I move/ I shake/ I stir. The International Paralympics Committee’s vision is “to enable Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and to inspire and excite the world”. 

And that they do, with the Games triggering changes in accessibility of buildings, sidewalk, and public space. Also, it encouraged an increase in willingness to hire individuals with Disabilities. 

“In China, the (Paralympic) Games were really a transformation tool for changing attitudes across the board in China towards people with disability. From building accessibility facilities in the city, to changing laws. And, allowing people with a disability to be part of society.”

– Chief Executive Office for IPC, Xavier Gonzalez

About the Author

Lydia B.

Lydia B.

Lydia B. is a Marketing Coordinator and Music Club Coach for Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers Math, English, SAT, Coding, Spanish tutoring, and more.