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OLYMPIC ORIGINS

History repeats this summer as the Games of the XXXII Olympiad opens July 23 in Tokyo.

Originating in Greece almost 3000 years ago, the Games were designed to honor the god Zeus and took place every four years from August 6 to September 19 during this religious celebration.   This athletic festival, as legend has it, was  created by Hercules, the son of Zeus, and the mortal Alcmene and derived its name from the sacred location of Olympia situated on the "Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece". During the first Games in 776 BC, only one event took place; a 192-meter footrace.  The Games continued to flourish after Romans conquered Greece in the 2nd century BC, but in 393 AD,  Christian Emperor Theodous halted all pagan festivals including the Olympics.   

It took another 1500 years, until Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937) upon visiting the ancient sites in Greece was inspired to revive this sporting tradition and proposed it to the Union des Sports Athlétiques in Paris in 1892.  Four years later, the modern Olympics were reborn into an international fellowship of athletes being held in Athens culminating with 280 participants in 43 events.

by Nigel Kensington | Information via The History Channel

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