for the founders of the Modern Olympic Games
June 2, 2012
Re: Lighting the Road to 2012 (online comment at www.telegraph.co.uk)
I wrote to the Wenlock Olympian Society years ago when they used to claim that Much Wenlock was 'the birthplace of the Olympic Games'. I explained that ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games. However, I also explained that they could claim that Much Wenlock was 'a birthplace of the modern Olympic Games'. Since then the society has claimed that Much Wenlock is 'the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games'.
Much Wenlock has Olympic provenance, however, not through the 1890 meeting with Baron Pierre de Coubertin since at that time the Baron had no Olympic provenance himself, but due to something that Dr William Penny Brookes decided to do in 1859. Dr Brookes adopted events from the Athens 1859 Olympic Games in to future programmes of the Wenlock Olympian Games. That directly linked the Wenlock Olympian Games with a series of Olympic Games held in Athens in 1859, 1870, and 1875, that were sponsored by Evangelis Zappas. It was Zappas who refurbished the ancient Panathenian stadium and the first modern international Olympic Games to be held in a stadium was hosted there in 1870. Meanwhile, Dr Brookes organised, a very respectable national Olympic Games at Crystal Palace, in London, in 1866. It was not until the Athens 1896 Olympic Games at the Panathenian stadium that Baron Pierre de Coubertin connected to the very same Olympic provenance that Dr Brookes had connected with. Like the torch relay, the flame needs to pass from torch to torch and the Baron's flame, although smouldering from 1890, only flamed on at Athens in 1896.
Athens has hosted modern international Olympic Games six times including: 1859, 1870, 1875, 1896, 1906, and 2004. If the Baron is the father of the modern Olympic Games then Dr Brookes and Mr Zappas are the British and Greek grandfathers.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) does not formally recognise either Brookes or Zappas as founders of the modern Olympic Games. In fact, the IOC goes out of its way to promote the myth that the Baron is the only founding father when planting de Coubertin oak trees everywhere it can. At the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games the President of the IOC, Jacques Rogge proclaimed 'Athletes, these Games were created for you by our founder, Pierre de Coubertin'. He did not mention Brookes or Zappas.
Recommended reading by Zappas.org: