Olympics History: Why are the Olympics held every 4 Years

Olympics Logo
Olympics Logo
Anushree Dinesh Burad

The Olympic Games is the highest sporting International event that features Winter and Summer Olympics. Thousands of athletes from across the world participate in different competitions. The Tokyo 2021 Olympics that will be held this year will be the 32nd edition of the Olympics. Moreover, it will be the second time that Japan, specifically Tokyo has hosted the Summer Olympic Games, the first being in 1964.

Importantly, the Summer Olympics are the long lost tradition of ancient Greece. The ancient Olympics were held every four years during a religious festival to honor the Greek God, Zeus. Consequently, to respect the ancient origins of the Summer Olympics, the modern Olympics are held every four years.

History of Olympics and the Origination of Olympiad

Ancient Olympic Games
Ancient Olympic Games

Ancient Olympics were held in Olympia, Greece from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. The four-year interval was known as 'Olympiad' and time was counted in Olympiads rather than years at that time. Moreover, the ancient Olympics featured religious and athletic festivals between different kingdoms of ancient Greece. The Olympics reached their height of success in the 6th and 5th century BC. However, it gradually declined in importance after the Romans gained power and control over Greece.

The revival of the Summer Olympic Games took place in 1896 when Pierre de Coubertin became IOC President. It was his determination and initiative for the Summer Olympics to be brought back into the picture. Eventually, he presented the idea to the IOC after which the first modern Olympics was decided to take place in 1896 in Athens. He guided the Games through many difficult years in which it lacked support and popularity.

The first modern Olympic Games brought together 14 nations and 241 athletes who competed in 43 different events. Notably, many athletes demanded that Athens should be the permanent host city for the Olympics. However, the IOC was determined that the Games should rotate to other countries around the world. Eventually, the second Olympics was decided to be held in Paris. Since then, the Olympics have been held every 4th year except during World War I and World War II.

To date, an Olympiad begins on the first of January of the first year and ends on 31st December of the fourth year.

Difference between ancient and modern Olympics

The Ancient Olympics were predominantly the Greeks' way of saluting their Gods. It featured competitions in music, oratory as well as a theatre performance. Conversely, the Olympics in the modern era is a system of supporting athletic talents from different countries. The modern Games define a more athletic agenda with an aim to neutralize International conflict between countries with friendly competition between them.

Modern Olympics
Modern Olympics

The Olympics Movement was revolutionized in the 20th and 21st century with the inclusion of Winter Olympics for snow and ice sports and Paralympics for athletes with disabilities. In addition, the Youth Olympic Games for athletes between the ages of 14-18 were also introduced to the system.

Edited by Rohit Mishra
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