The first modern Olympic Games

In the first official games, which began on April 6th, 1896, 241 athletes from 14 countries competed in 43 events.

Preparation for the 100 metres at the Olympic Games, 1896. Ⓒ AlamyThe modern International Olympic Games credit as their founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937). Coubertin was of the belief that ‘organised sport can create moral and social strength’, which, having visited Rugby School in 1883, he believed explained Britain’s power. He looked, too, to the Athenian gymnasium. As well as being a romantic, his ideas had a practical motivation and he hoped his efforts would produce a generation of young men better suited for war, a response to France’s defeat in the Franco-Prussian War.

This came together in the foundation of the International Olympic Committee, of which he was president until 1924. The first modern International Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.

To read this article in full you need to be either a print + archive subscriber, or else have purchased access to the online archive.

If you are already a subscriber, please ensure you are logged in. 

Buy Subscription | Buy Online Access | Log In

Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week