The Ancient Olympic Games were a series of competitions held between city-states and kingdoms in Ancient Greece. These games featured mainly athletic, but also combat events and chariot racing.
The Olympic Games reached their peak in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, but then gradually declined in importance as the Romans gained power and influence in Greece.
1. No-one actually knows when the Olympic Games began. The earliest recorded event was at Olympia, Greece in 776 BC, but it may well have been held even earlier.
2. From 776 BC onwards, it was held every four years, and the ancient Greeks calculated their calendar in four year periods called 'Olympiads'.
4. The ancient Olympics ended in AD 393 when the Roman Emperor Theodosius banned the games because they were becoming too pagan.
5. The earliest games were held to honour Zeus and included a ceasefire in all wars in the region.
6. When the modern Olympics began in Athens in 1896, only 13 countries took part.
7. The five Olympic rings represent the five major regions of the world – Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania, and every national flag in the world includes one of the five colors, which are (from left to right) blue, yellow, black, green, and red.
9. During the 1900 Olympic archery competition, live pigeons were used as targets.
10. Britain has always won at least one gold in every modern Olympics - however, one was the grand total of gold medals for the UK in 1904, 1952 and 1996 - embarrassing!
11. Because of World War I and World War II, there were no Olympic Games in 1916, 1940, or 1944.
13. Women were first allowed to participate in 1900 at the second modern Olympic Games.
14. Three continents – Africa, South America, and Antarctica – have never hosted an Olympics.
15. The 'Berlin Olympics' held in 1936 were the first Olympic games ever to be broadcast on television.
16. Olympian Oscar Swahn of Sweden is the oldest olympian to have participated in any of the olympic events so far. He was a shooter who participated at the 1920 Antwerp Games at the age of 72 years.