Zappas.org
for the founders of the Modern Olympic Games



Sports Journalists' Association News (UK)

July 16, 2007

Living legacy of Wenlock’s Games

Dear Mrs Smith, Unfortunately it is not THE event that started the modern Olympics.

Dear Mr Samaranch, Unfortunately your point of view excludes important facts. Dr Brookes was not THE founder of the modern Olympics. He was A founder of the modern Olympics.

Actually, the Games staged by Brookes in 1850 did not in any way resemble an Olympic Games. But it did resemble some Junior School sports days (only with fewer athletic events). It was not a revival of the Olympic Games by a long chalk. In fact, it had little in common with the Olympic Games of ancient Greece. The only thing about it that was Olympic was that between 1850 and 1859 it was called the "Olympian Class". It was the physical education part of the curriculum. In 1859 the name of the Games was changed to "Wenlock Olympian Games". In 1860 the Wenlock Olympian Society was founded.

Brookes was the first to organise a modern national Olympic Games outside of Greece that looked like a modern Olympic Games at Crystal Palace in 1866. But it was very different from what happened in Much Wenlock between 1850 and 1859.

Dr Brookes adopted athletics events from the first modern international Olympic Games held in an Athens city square in 1859 and these were incorporated in the early 1860s.

Yes, Dr Brookes did inspire Baron Pierre de Coubertin who went on to found the International Olympic Committee in 1894.

What the Baron wrote in 1890 regarding who revived the Olympic Games in La Revue Athletique is irrelevant since a wealthy Greek philanthropist called Evangelis Zappas sponsored the first modern international Olympic Games held in 1859. He also paid for the refurbishment of the ancient Panathenian stadium that was used for modern international Olympic Games in 1870, 1875, 1896, 1906, and in 2004 (for archery and the marathon finish).

Yes, the legacy of Brookes lives on since his ideas for the organisation of the Games and the ceremonies were used by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in the IOC's version of the Olympic Games. But so does the legacy of Evangelis Zappas who was the first to sponsor a modern international Olympic Games with participants from the Ottoman Empire as well as Greece. Thanks to Zappas, Athens is the only Olympic city that can boast that its stadium hosted modern international Olympic Games five times.

The Wenlock Olympian Society has always been ready to boast that Much Wenlock is the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games. In fact, they only started to use the word "modern" when I informed them that the birthplace of the Olympic Games was in ancient Greece and that they should use the word "modern" preceding the words "Olympic Games". But unfortunately, they are still using the word "THE" to describe Dr Brookes as THE founder of the modern Olympic Games when they should be using the word "A".

Unfortunately, the facts do not substantiate the boast. It's time that the Wenlock Olympian Society put up or shut up. Unfortunately, they have nothing to put up.

Yours faithfully,
Zappas.org

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Recommended reading by Zappas.org:

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The Modern Olympics: A Struggle for Revival

cover

by
David. C Young

published by
The Johns Hopkins University Press

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A Brief History of the Olympics

cover

by
David. C Young

published by
Blackwell Publishing

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