for the founders of the Modern Olympic Games
July 27, 2012
Making Olympic history special (Op/Ed)
We all take for granted that the history that we are taught at school is accurate and we tend to accept what we are told by many trusted organisations. Unfortunately, history is occasionally manipulated to serve the best interests of those in power. One such organisation with that power is the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
"London has a special place in Olympic history. London will be the first city to host the Games three times."
Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC, 124th Session of the IOC, London, July 24, 2012.
Sebastian Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, echoed that claim at the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. There is no doubt that the special place that Rogge is referring to is special but not for the reason that he has stated. In fact, London is not the first city to host the Olympic Games three times.
Athens has hosted Olympic Games, under the auspices of the IOC, in 1896, 1906, and 2004. The IOC referred to Athens 1906 as its second Olympic Games when it was held. Paris 1900 and St. Louis 1904 were held under the auspices of the Paris Exposition and the World’s Fair respectively and were not recognised by the IOC at that time. Paris and St. Louis were later brought under the IOC's umbrella but that left the IOC with a dilemma of what to do with Athens 1906. It was not until the ‘Brundage Commission’ of 1949 that the IOC reached a decision to call them ‘Intermediate Games’.
Olympic Games hosted prior to the foundation of the IOC, in 1894, are not recognised by the IOC. If you include those sponsored by the philanthropist Evangelis Zappas, Athens has hosted six modern Olympic Games in 1859, 1870, 1875, 1896, 1906, and 2004. The Panathenian stadium in Athens hosted events at five of them. The Zappas legacy also part-funded Athens 1896 that had received no funding from the IOC.
But that is not all. A national Olympic Games was held in London in 1866 that is also not recognised by the IOC. Swimming events were held in the River Thames on July 31. Gymnastics were held at a gymnasium in London. Athletics events were held inside the original Crystal Palace. The National Olympic Association was called ‘National Olympian Association’ at that time. The association was formed specifically for the London 1866 Olympic Games. Dr William Penny Brookes of Much Wenlock, who founded the Wenlock Olympian Society in 1860, was the key organiser and driver of the event. It was the first held outside of Greece to resemble an Olympic Games in modern times.
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