Archaeologists and scientists believe the ancient Olympic Games began more than 4,000 years ago in Olympia, a valley in Greece. Recorded history of the Games is from 776 BC, when the event lasted five days. The Olympics were held every four year during the summer months. No one were canceled or delayed even wars had to be stopped. Only men were allowed to compete in 10 events: running, the pentathlon, jumping, discus, javelin, wrestling, boxing, the pancration (combination of wrestling and boxing), chariot racing, and horse racing. Every winner was crowned with an olive twig and treated like hero for the rest of his life. In 146 the Greece was defeated by Romans and lost independence. The consequence was that in 394 the Games were prohibited. The ancient Olympic Games lasted more then 12 centuries and were symbol of Greek unity and national spirit.
The man who stayed behind the revival of Olympic Games was Baron Pierre de Coubertin. This Frenchman had an idea or vision and he did everything possible and even impossible to come his dream true. At first nobody agreed with the revival of Olympic Games – they thought it was a nonsense. But Pierre Coubertin didn’t surrender he traveled around the world, promoted the Games and made friends, persuaded opponents. In July 1894 the international congress about sport took place in Paris and it was Coubertin´s chance. Before the congress started he did some pretty good tricks and plots. He added one more item to the program called The revival of OH and in the last moment he renamed the congress to The international congress of revival of the Olympic Games. And then everything happened so fast. The people were enthusiastic and fascinated and the IOC was founded. The first chairman was Dimitrios Vikélas from Greece. It was Coubertin´s idea that the chairman should be elected every four year and he would come from the county which holds the Games. But it didn’t come true and after the Games in Athens Coubertin was elected chairman of the IOC and remained him since 1925. We have had a member in IOC since its foundation – it was Jiří Guth-Jarkovský a friend of Coubertin.
The first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896 in Athens in honor of ancient Greeks. 13 countries participated in the Games but not Bohemia. The athletes competed in 9 kinds of sport and every winner gained olive twig, diploma and silver medal (until the Olympics in London in 1908 the award for winner was silver medal).
In 1924 a „Week of winter sports“ – as it was officially named – took place in Chamonix. Today we consider this event as the first Winter OG.
The games are organized every four years except the war years. Until 1992 were Summmer and Winter Games held in the same year. But then the next Winter games took place in 1994 in Lillehamer.
Our first Olympic winner was Bedřich Šupčík. He won the climb in Paris in 1924. Our most successful athletes which are known all over the world were Emil Zátopek – he surprisingly won 10 and 5 km run and marathon in 1952 in Helsinky, Věra Čáslavská – best gymnast in our history. Our first Winter Olympic winner was Jiří Raška. He won ski jumping competition in 1968 in Grenoble.
I can’t forget our successful teams – our football players won gold medal in 1980 in Moskva and our hockey players won the „Tournament of the century“ in Nagano.
One curiosity – The OG could took place in our republic even twice. For the first time in 1980 but our communist Republic didn’t dare to compete with Moskva. Next winter games in 1984 were suggested to take place in Vysoké Tatry. But the Comunist Party didn’t agree and the leaders declared some pointless and actually comic reasons for ex. that Czechs wouldn’t accept the place Vysoké Tatry (Slovakia) and that it would separated the nations. But in fact the reasonable arguments were economic and ecological. And now our small country has no hope, no possibility to hold such an expensive business.