The Olympics have a very long history. They began in 776 B.C., and took place for nearly 1,200 years at Olympia, Greece. The citizens of all the Greek states were invited to take part in the games. The prizes were wreaths made of branches of olive trees. Ancient Olympic Games were a great athletic festival and included many different kinds of sports: running, boxing, discus throwing, wrestling, the pentathlon (five different sports) and others. In 394 A.D. the games were stopped by the Roman Emperor Theodosius.
In 1894, a Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, managed to persuade people from fifteen countries to start the Olympic Games again. The International Olympic Committee was set up in 1894, and the first of the modern series of the Games took place in Athens two years later, in 1896. There were competitions in many kinds of sports: running, jumping, boxing. All the nations of the world were invited to send their athletic teams. From then on the Olympic Games have been international and the number of events on the programme have increased.
In these games only amateurs, or non-professional athletes can take part. Each country sends teams for as many different events as possible. The winners of each event are given a certain number of points. The International Olympic Committee decides where each Olympics will take place. They ask a city (not a country) to be the host.
The Olympic Games are attended by thousands and thousands of people every time they are held. They provide an opportunity for lovers of sports of all nations to meet together.