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The Olympic Games is an event for the best athletes in the world to show their skill and endurance in a series of contests. It is the biggest global multi-sport event. It has taken place every four years since 1896 and is held during the summer. Almost every nation sends teams of selected athletes to take part.

The Games is held in a different country each time and several countries make a bid to try to host the event. The competition brings a great deal of money and publicity to the host country.

The Olympic Games was invented by the ancient Greeks. It aims to promote friendship among nations.

Olympic sports include the following:

  • Athletics
  • Gymnastics
  • Cycling
  • Aquatics
  • Badminton
  • Basketball
  • Fencing
  • Handball
  • Football
  • Rowing
  • Sailing
  • Shooting
  • Teakwood
  • Tennis
  • Weightlifting
  • Wrestling
  • Hockey
  • Judo
  • Archery
  • Triathlon
  • Volleyball
  • Table tennis
  • Pentathlon
  • Boxing
  • Equestrian

An Olympic gold medal is the highest honour an athlete or sportsperson can hope for in their career. Medals are awarded to competitors who come first, second and third place in their event. A gold medal is awarded for first place, silver for second place and a bronze for third place.

The Opening Ceremony

  • The Olympic Games is opened with an official ceremony where the host country's national flag is raised and its national anthem is performed
  • The ceremony features parades of participating nations, during which athletes march into the stadium country by country
  • One honoured athlete from each country carries the flag of his or her nation, leading the entourage of other athletes
  • Traditionally, Greece marches first and the host nation marches last
  • After all nations have entered, the president of the host country's Olympic Organising Committee makes a speech. This is followed by a speech from the IOC president, who then introduces the organising country's head of state to formally open the Games

The Olympic Flame

  • The opening ceremony climaxes with the lighting of the Olympic Flame
  • The Olympic Flame is a fire that is kept burning throughout the Olympic Games and it is known as the symbol of the Games. It represents eternal hope and the endurance of the athletes
  • The Olympic Flame is lit in the city where the ancient Games originated - Olympia, Greece - and is brought to the host city by runners who carry the Olympic Torch in a relay
  • The last relay runner is usually a famous athlete who runs into the host stadium with the torch during the Opening Ceremony and lights the Olympic Flame in the stadium's cauldron

The Closing Ceremony

  • The Games finishes with a closing ceremony that marks the end of the event and looks forward to the next one
  • Three national flags are hoisted separately as the national anthems are played - the Greek flag, the host country's flag and the flag of the next Games host
  • Flag bearers of each country march into the stadium, but the athletes walk behind without any distinction of nationality
  • The Olympic Flame is extinguished, and while the Olympic anthem is being played, the Olympic Flag hoisted during the opening ceremony is lowered and carried out of the stadium

Did you know…?

  • The first recorded celebration of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece was recorded in 776 BC, but the event originated long before this
  • The ancient Greeks believed strongly in competition and all aspects of life were centred on the concept. It was one of the greatest honours to win a victory at Olympia, and so the only prize given at that time was an olive wreath
  • Winners at the Games in ancient Greece were immortalised in poems and statues

The Winter Olympic Games

The Winter Olympic Games, first held in 1924, is the cold weather equivalent of the Olympic Games and features winter sports held on ice or snow. The Winter Olympics is held every four years, but at a different time to the summer Olympic Games.

Winter Olympic sports include the following:

  • Bob-sleigh
  • Curling
  • Ice hockey
  • Skating
  • Skiing
  • Luge
  • Biathlon

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