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Catch the Olympic Spirit

Atlanta 1996

I caught the spirit after attending the Atlanta Olympics in the summer of '96, and I've been hooked ever since. It's exciting to be a part of the Olympic movement, but even if you can't get to the games, you can still get into the spirit. Watch on television, follow the event results online, and watch your local news for local athletes. Get into Olympic pin collecting. If you're lucky enough to live in or near the host city, enjoy the atmosphere and the international visitors even if you don't have event tickets.

Scroll down and use the official links to learn more about Olympic history, the principles of Olympism, and the next four scheduled games.

A Brief History of the Modern Olympics

The modern Olympics began in 1896, when Athens hosted the first modern Olympiad. Since then, what most people now know as the Summer Olympics have taken place every four years, though though suspended during the two World Wars. The numbering of the Games, however, does not skip the war years: the V Olympiad was in 1912, the VI Olympiad did not take place, and the VII Olympiad was in 1920. That's why London in 2012 will host the XXX Olympiad, even though it will be only the 27th time the summer Games are held.

The Olympic Winter Games began in 1924 in Chamonix with what was originally known as Winter Sports Week and designated a winter Olympics two years later. The games likewise continued every four years hence, except during World War II, until the International Olympic Committee decided to stagger the summer and winter games. So after winter and summer games in 1992, the next winter Olympics took place just two years later before resuming the quadrennial schedule.

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Fun Olympic Facts

  • The first summer Olympics featured 13 sports; the most recent featured 44 sports.
  • The first winter Olympics featured 9 sports; the 2012 games features 15 sports.
  • The first Olympic held outside Europe was the III Olympiad hosted by St. Louis, USA (1904).
  • The first winter Olympics held outside Europe was hosted by Lake Placid, USA (1932).
  • The first Olympics held in the southern hemisphere was hosted by Melbourne, Australia (1956).
  • There has not yet been a winter Olympics awarded to a city in the southern hemisphere.
  • The first Olympics held in Asia was hosted by Tokyo, Japan (1964).
  • The first winter Olympics held in Asia was hosted by Sapporo, Japan (1972).
  • The first Olympics awarded to a South American city will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2016).
  • The only city to have been selected to host three Olympic games is London, UK (1908, 1948, 2012).
  • Six cities have hosted the Olympics twice: Athens, Greece (1896, 2004); Paris, France (1900, 1924); St. Moritz, Switzerland (1928, 1948); Los Angeles, USA (1932, 1984); Lake Placid, USA (1932, 1980); and Innsbruck, Austria (1964, 1976).
  • The most frequent host country is the USA (summer 1904, 1932, 1984, 1996, and winter 1932, 1960, 1980, 2002).
  • The 1976 winter Olympics were awarded to Denver, USA, but the voters of Colorado passed a referendum prohibiting the use of public funds to pay for it. The IOC accepted Innsbruck's offer to stand in because they had all the facilities in place from having hosted 12 years earlier.

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Official Olympic Websites

Olympic rings USOC Vancouver 2010
US Olympic

London 2012 Sochi 2014 Rio de Janeiro 2016
Rio de Janeiro

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This page updated on January 3, 2010.
Page layout and contents, exclusive of Olympic logos, © 1997-2010 Kelly A. Jefferson.