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Inspired by the ancient Greek Olympics and his belief that sport was an essential part of education and of life,
Pierre de Coubertin, a French aristocrat, conceived the idea of an international sporting event to be held every four years in a
different country. In 1894 he organized an international congress which resulted in the first modern
Olympics in Athens in 1896.**The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896. Since then, three games
have been canceled: in 1918 because of World War I and in 1940 and 1944 because of World War II. The 2020 games were postponed until 2021 due to the COVID pandemic.
In addition, several Olympics have suffered from major boycotts and terrorism. Despite these setbacks, the Olympics have
expanded and grown to include athletes from all continents, as well as the Winter, Paralympic and Youth Games.**For a sport to be
an Olympic Sport it must be governed by a recognized International Sports Federation and be widely popular and contested.
The International Olympic Committee specifically defines what widely contested means. For men, the criterion is at least 75 countries
on four continents, and for women, at least 40 countries on three continents. In addition, an Olympic sport may not
rely upon mechanical propulsion.**In the Olympics, sports are made up of disciplines, which are divided into events. Each event leads to a medal. For example, the women's
10 m platform diving event is part of the discipline of diving, which is part of the sport of Aquatics. The disciplines of diving, swimming, synchronized swimming and water polo, are all grouped
together as the sport of Aquatics because they are governed by the same international sports federation.**The Paralympic
Games grew out of the 1948 International Wheelchair Games. Dr. Ludwig Guttmann, who organized these games, envisioned them as being equivalent to the 1948
London Olympics, but for disabled World War II veterans. In 1960, when the Olympics were in Rome, the first Paralympic Games were held. These
Games were open to all wheelchair athletes, not just veterans. Today the Paralympics are fully coordinated with the
Olympics, being held in the same host city with the same facilities, and are open to a wide variety of elite disabled
athletes from around the world.**The Games are a well-known event, but are also part of a broader framework which is that
of the Olympic Movement.
The purpose of the Olympic Movement is to:
– link sport with culture and education;
– promote the practice of sport and the joy found in effort;
– help to build a better world through sport practised in a spirit of peace, excellence,
friendship and respect.
Excerpt from The Modern Olympic Games by the Olympic Museum