Before 776   B.C.

Ancient Greece

Athletic contests are held at Olympia every four years, between August 6 and September 19. Records reach back as far as 776 B.C., but it is generally accepted that the Olympic Games had already been held for several centuries before that.

The Games originally consist only of foot races. Other events are gradually added, starting with wrestling and the pentathlon.

A.D. 394

Roman Emperor Theodosius I abolishes the Games, as part of a series of reforms against pagan practices.


Pierre de coubertin

At the urging of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is founded.

At this same Congress, it has been decided that the first modern Olympic Games will take place in Athens and that subsequent Games will be held every four years.


Athens Games

The first modern Olympic Games. 14 countries are represented by about 245 men, competing in 43 events.

No women compete, as de Coubertin feels that their inclusion would be "impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect."


Paris Games

The second modern Games are overshadowed by, and incorporated into, the Paris Exposition. 1,319 men from 26 countries compete in 75 events, although it's not entirely clear—even to some of the participants—which events are actually part of the Olympics.

Eleven women are allowed to compete in lawn tennis and golf.


St. Louis Games


Only 13 countries show up.

Fred Lorz rides in a car for eleven miles during the marathon, but is briefly taken as being the winner anyway. The Amateur Athletic Union has decided to ban him for life, but revoked this decision after his public apology.



Intercalated Games

The first, last, and only Intercalated Games are held in Athens, as the Greeks plan to hold interim Games between Olympics every four years. While these bolster the Olympics' flagging reputation, medals won here are considered unofficial by the IOC.


London Games


The 1906 eruption of Mt. Vesuvius requires the Games to move from Rome to London. For the first time, athletes march into the stadium behind their nations' flags. There are more than 2,000 competitors in more than 100 events.

Italian Dorando Pietri needs to be helped across the finish line of the marathon, but is declared the winner before being disqualified in favor of Johnny Hayes of the U.S.


Stockholm Games

Jim Thorpe

American Jim Thorpe dominates the Games, taking the gold in the pentathlon and decathlon.

Finland begins its domination of long-distance running events, as Hannes Kolehmainen picks up three gold medals and a silver.

Women compete in swimming events for the first time, but none of them are from America, which bars its female athletes from competing in events without long skirts.


Jim Thorpe's medals are taken away, when it is discovered that he was paid $25 a week for playing baseball in 1909 and 1910. The Olympics are strictly limited to amateur players.


Games cancelled due to World War I.


Antwerp Games


The Olympic flag is introduced, as is the Olympic oath.

Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Turkey are not invited, having been on the wrong side of the Great War.

Distance runner Paavo Nurmi wins three medals for Finland.

Figure-skating events are held for the second time, and ice hockey for the first.

Philip Noel-Baker of Great Britain takes the silver in the 1500-meter dash; he later becomes the only Olympian ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Winter 1924.

Chamonix Winter Games

The "International Winter Sports Week" takes place in Chamonix, and is dominated by the Scandanavians. Two years later, this is retroactively given the status of the first Olympic Winter Games.

Due to an error in computing the scores, American Anders Haugen is placed in fourth in ski jumping, behind Norway's Thorleif Haug. This is discovered in 1974, and Haugen is awarded the bronze in a special ceremony.

Summer 1924

Paris Games

Originally planned to take place in Amsterdam, the Games are moved to Paris at the urging of Baron de Coubertin. He's about to retire, and wants to see them in his homeland one last time.1924-Olympic-Games

Germany is still banned, but the other four nations banned in 1920 are back.
Paavo Nurmi wins five gold medals; his teammate, Ville Ritola, wins four.

Johnny Weissmuller wins three golds and a bronze in water-based events; he later becomes known for playing Tarzan.


The IOC explains that "An amateur is one who devotes himself to sport for sport's sake without deriving from it, directly or indirectly, the means of existence. A professional is one who derives the means of existence entirely or partly from sport." They forbid such practices as compensating athletes for time taken away from work to compete, making it hard for working-class athletes to participate.

Winter 1928

St. Moritz Winter Games

The Winter Games are plagued with warm weather, slowing some events and cancelling the 10,000-meter speed-skating race.

Gillis Grafström of Sweden wins the last of his three consecutive gold medals in figure skating; Norwegian Sonja Henie will equal that feat, winning the first of her three consecutive gold medals in figure skating here at the age of 15..

Summer 1928

Amsterdam Games


The Olympic flame is introduced.

Germany returns.

Paavo Nurmi picks up three more medals, including one gold.

Women compete in track and field events for the first time; however, so many collapse at the end of the 800-meter race that the event is banned until 1960.

Luigina Giavotti becomes the youngest medalist of all time, helping the Italian gymnastics team pick up a silver at 11 years and 302 days old.


The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) holds soccer's first World Cup tournament in Montevideo, Uruguay, largely due to the Olympics' restrictions against professional athletes.

The World Cup is held every four years from this time onward, excepting World War II years.

Winter 1932

Lake Placid Winter Games

Canada continues to be undefeated in hockey, taking home the gold for the fourth time.

America's bobsleigh team, led by Billy Fiske, wins the gold; the team includes Eddie Eagan, who was a boxing champion in the 1920 Games.

Summer 1932

Los Angeles Games

Paavo Nurmi is barred from the Los Angeles Games, on grounds that, on a trip to a German meet, he had claimed too much money in travel expenses.

There is no soccer event.


Babe Didrikson picks up gold medals in hurdles and javelin.
She would have tied for a gold in the high-jump, but her jumping style is ruled illegal.

Winter 1936

Garmish-Partenkirchen Winter Games

Alpine skiing events are held for the first time, but ski instructors are barred as being professionals. This leads to an Austrian and Swiss boycott, and to the decision not to have skiing events in the 1940 Games.

Canada finally loses an ice hockey match, as Great Britain takes the gold. Only a complete stickler would point out that almost all of the British players lived in Canada.

Summer 1936

Berlin Games

The first-ever relay of the Olympic torch.

The Games are the first to be televised, being shown on large screens around Berlin.

Basketball is admitted as an Olympic sport for the first time. In the final—played on a dirt court in the rain, making dribbling impossible—the United States team beats Canada 19–8.

Denmark's 12-year-old Inge Sorensen wins a bronze medal in the 200-meter breaststroke, making her the youngest medalist ever in an individual event.

Jesse OwensIn what may be the most famous incident in Olympic history, Jesse Owens wins four gold medals, showing up German claims of Aryan superiority..

   1940,   1944

Games called off due to World War II.

Winter 1948

St. Moritz Winter Games

Held for a second time in St. Moritz, Switzerland, as that city was untouched by the war.

Men and women each have three alpine skiing events.

The American Olympic Committee sends a hockey team, as does the American Hockey Association; the IOC bars either from being considered for a medal.

Skeleton—a head-first version of the luge—appears for the first time since the previous St. Moritz Games 20 years earlier. American John Heaton wins the silver, as he had done the previous time.

Summer 1948

London Games

The first Games to be shown on home television.

Germany and Japan aren't invited, but a record 59 other countries attend.

Dutch athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen wins four gold medals, the equivalents of the ones Jesse Owens had won twelve years earlier. She holds the world records in the high and long jumps, but does not compete in those, as rules prohibit women from competing in more than three individual events.

Right-handed Hungarian Karoly Takcaz, a member of the national pistol-shooting team, had that hand shattered by a grenade in 1938. He teaches himself to shoot with his left, and wins the gold in the rapid-fire pistol event this year.

Winter 1952

Oslo Winter Games

The Olympic torch is lit in the fireplace of skiing pioneer Sondre Norheim, and relayed by 94 skiers to the Games in Oslo.

28-year-old Norwegian truck driver Hjalmar Andersen wins three speed-skating gold medals, setting Olympic records in two of the events.

The Canadian ice hockey team wins their seventh gold medal in eight Olympics; it will be fifty years before they win another.

Summer 1952

Helsinki Summer Games

Russian athletes participate for the first time in forty years.

Soviet Maria Gorokhovskaya—unhindered by the limits set on female competitors at earlier Games—sets a record for most medals won by a woman in one Olympics, with two golds and five silvers

The U.S. edges out the U.S.S.R. in the overall medal count, 76-71.

Czechoslovakian Emil Zátopek sets Olympic records in the 5,000 meter race, 10,000 meter race, and the marathon, an event he'd never run before.

Winter 1956

Cortina d'Ampezzo Winter Games

The Soviets break Canada's gold-medal monopoly in ice hockey, and win more medals than anybody else.

Toni Sailer of Austria becomes the first skier to sweep all three Alpine events.

The U.S. sweep five of the six medals in individual figure skating, the lone exception being Austria's Ingrid Wendl's bronze.

Summer 1956

Melbourne Summer Games

As quarantine laws don't allow the entry of foreign horses, equestrian events are held in Stockholm in June. The rest of the Games start in late November, when it's Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden boycott the games in protest of the Soviet invasion of Hungary. Egypt, Lebanon, and Iraq do the same as a result of the Suez crisis. The People's Republic of China refuses to participate due to the inclusion of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

East and West Germany are represented by one combined team.

The Soviets dominate the field, winning 98 medals, while the Americans take 74.

In the Closing Ceremonies, for the first time, athletes from all nations enter the stadium in unity, rather than marching in by nation.

Winter 1960

Squaw Valley Winter Games

The only Winter Games ever not to include bobsledding, as the organizing committee refuses to build an expensive bobsled run for the mere nine nations that would use it.

Walt Disney is in charge of pageantry, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

Sweden's Klas Lestander wins the first-ever biathlon, combining cross-country skiing and shooting.

The U.S. ice hockey team wins the gold for the first time, upsetting both the Canadian and Soviet teams.

The Soviets end up with more than twice as many medals as their closest rivals, the Americans.

Summer 1960

Rome Summer Games

The first Summer Games covered by television worldwide.

A record 5,348 athletes from 83 countries compete.

Muhamed Alijpg18-year-old boxer Cassius Clay—later to be known as Muhammad Ali—is the light heavyweight boxing champion.

Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila, running barefoot, becomes the first black African to take home a gold medal.

American Wilma Rudolph wins three gold medals for running.

After taking amphetamines, Danish cyclist Knuth Jensen collapses during a race, fatally fracturing his skull.

The Soviets again lead the pack, with 103 medals (43 gold) to the Americans' 71 (34 gold).

Winter 1964

Innsbruck Winter Games

Unfavorable weather conditions require the Austrian army to carry ice and snow from higher elevations.

Because of its policy of apartheid, South Africa is barred from the Olympics; it won't be invited back until 1992.

Luge is added for the first time, but a cloud hangs over it after a British luger dies in the course of a practice run a week before competition.

The U.S.S.R. again leads with 25 medals; the United States' six medals put it in eighth place.

Summer 1964

Tokyo Summer Games

Japan spends about $3 billion to rebuild Tokyo for the Olympics, revitalizing a city that had been devastated by earthquakes and World War II bombings. 25 Olympic and world records are broken in the course of the Games, and Japan's worldwide image gets a significant boost.

Abebe Bikila again wins the marathon, this time less than six weeks after having his appendix removed.

Larisa Latynina, Birgit Radochla, Věra Čáslavská 1964Soviet gymnast Larissa Latynina wins six medals for the third time in a row; she remains the Olympic athlete with the most medals (18) and the most medals in individual events (14).

American Al Oerter wins the discus toss for the third straight time, despite a cervical disc injury and torn rib cartilage.

The U.S. and U.S.S.R. end up neck-and-neck, with the Soviets winning more medals overall, but the Americans winning more gold medals.

Winter 1968

Grenoble Winter Games

East and West Germany compete on separate teams for the first time.

Sex tests and drug tests are introduced.

Norway wins the most medals (14) for the first time, coming in one ahead of the Soviets.

Peggy Fleming wins America's only gold medal, in figure skating.

France's Jean-Claude Killy sweeps all three Alpine events, after some controversy surrounding the disqualification of Austria's Karl Schranz in the slalom.

The Soviets win the gold in hockey again.

Women still have only 12 events, compared to 21 men's events. (There are also two mixed doubles events, in figure skating and luge.)

Summer 1968

Mexico City Summer Games

These Games are controversially held at the highest altitude ever: 7,349 feet. The thin air is bad for athletes in endurance events, but it leads to records in short races, relays, and jumping events.

Bob Beamon shatters the long-jump world record by more than 21 inches.

Dick Fosbury revolutionizes the high-jump with his back-first "Fosbury flop" technique, taking home the gold.

Al Oerter wins the discus toss a fourth time.

Mexico 1968On the winning podium after the 200-meter race, Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists in a Black Power salute; the two are immediately suspended from the Games and deported from the country.

Swedish pentathlete Hans-Grunner Liljenwall is the first to be disqualified for drug use, having tested positive for excessive alcohol.

Athletes compete in 122 men's events, 39 women's events, and 11 mixed events, and the U.S. pulls ahead of the U.S.S.R., winning 107 medals (45 gold) to 91 (29 gold).

Winter 1972

Sapporo Winter Games

Retiring IOC president Avery Brundage threatens to disqualify 40 Alpine skiers for taking money from ski product manufacturers. He ultimately makes an example of just one skier, barring Austrian Karl Schranz.

Adding to the controversy, the United States, the Soviet Union, and others have been routinely circumventing the IOC's amateur code for decades, with no consequences. The Soviets have been paying their athletes for jobs they never actually perform, while the Americans have handed out athletic scholarships to thousands of athletes.

Canada boycotts the Games, in protest of Eastern European "state amateurs."

Norway's Magne Myrmo becomes the last athlete to win a cross-country skiing event using all-wooden skis.

The Soviet Union maintains its lock at the top of the Winter Games standing.

Summer 1972

Munich Summer Games

The Olympic Oath is taken by a referee for the first time.

Mark Spitz sets seven world records and wins seven gold medals in swimming events.

The Games are overshadowed when members of the Black September terrorist group kidnap eleven Israeli athletes from the Olympic Village, killing two and taking the other nine hostage. During a failed rescue attempt by German authorities, the remaining athletes and all but three of the terrorists are killed.

After a day of mourning, the Games continue, although Spitz, a Jew, leaves the country for his own safety.

1972 Olympics

The U.S. basketball team loses a game for the first time, falling to the Soviet Union, but refuses to accept the silver medal, claiming that the clock had been improperly restarted in the final moments.

The Soviets lead the U.S. in the medal count, 99 (50 gold) to 94 (33 gold).


The word "amateurism" is removed from the Olympic Charter. This has no immediate effect on Olympic policy, but paves the way for future changes.

Winter 1976

Innsbruck Winter Games

These were originally planned for Denver, but Colorado residents voted against spending money on them.

Ice dancing makes its debut.

Austrian Franz Klammer gets the gold in downhill skiing.

The Russian hockey team wins its fourth straight gold medal.

America's Dorothy Hamill and Britain's John Curry win golds in figure skating.

The U.S.S.R. and East Germany rank first and second, while the United States moves up to a distant third-place tie.

Summer 1976

Montreal Summer Games

The original estimated cost of the Montreal Games had been $310 million, but labor problems, financial mismanagement, the addition of an extravagant stadium, and other expenses—plus increased security, clearly needed after the events of Munich—drive the price tag past $1.5 billion.

Canada bars the Republic of China (Taiwan) team from the country, then allows them to enter if they agree not to compete as "the Republic of China"; the Taiwanese consider this unacceptable and withdraw.

Dozens of other nations, mostly African, boycott the Games in protest of the inclusion of New Zealand, whose rugby team is touring racially segregated South Africa.

nadia comaneci14-year-old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci scores seven perfect 10s on the way to three gold medals, plus a silver and a bronze. Nobody had achieved even one 10 before.

Five American boxers win gold medals, including three future world boxing champs: Ray Leonard, Michael Spinks, and Leon Spinks.

The Soviet Union leads the medal count, followed by the U.S. and East Germany.

Winter 1980

Lake Placid Winter Games

The first to use artificial snow.

American Eric Heiden wins all five speed skating events, the first time that's ever been done.

The U.S. wins only one more gold medal, and the U.S.S.R. and the East Germans once again dominate the field…

1980 Miracle on Ice…but the Americans hardly care. That sixth gold medal, in ice hockey, is summed up by six words from Al Michaels:

 "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

Summer 1980

Moscow Summer Games

The first Games to be held in a communist country.

Due to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, President Carter calls upon the U.S. Olympic Committee to boycott the Games. The Olympic Charter requires such committees to "resist all pressures of any kind whatsoever, whether of a political, religious or economic nature," but theory and practice diverge; the Americans stay home, and many other countries follow suit.

80 nations participate in the Games, down from 122 at Munich.

Soviet athlete Aleksandr Dityatin wins a record eight medals in gymnastics.

Super-heavyweight Teófilo Stevenson of Cuba becomes the first boxer to win in the same weight division three times in a row.

Nadia Comaneci wins two more gold medals.


Not long after Juan Samaranch becomes president of the IOC, international sports federations are given the right to determine which athletes may compete. While athletes must live up to the standards in the Olympic Charter, the door is opened for nations to admit professional athletes.

Athletes are still barred from receiving money during the Games, whether for participating or for winning.


Jim Thorpe—whose amateur status was revoked in 1913—is officially pardoned by the IOC, 29 years after his death. Replicas of his 1912 medals are presented to his family at the start of 1983.


The IOC votes to allow the Games to be opened up to corporate sponsorship.

Winter 1984

Sarajevo Winter Games

The first to be held in a socialist country.

49 nations attend, 12 more than the previous record for the Winter Games.

As usual, the Soviets and East Germans end up on top; the U.S.S.R. has more medals overall (25-24), but the East Germans have more gold medals (9-6).

The Soviets regain top honors in hockey, while the U.S. fails to qualify for the medal round.

Britain's Jayne Torville and Christopher Dean win the gold in ice dancing, getting perfect scores from all judges for artistic impression.

Summer 1984

Los Angeles Summer Games

In retaliation for the U.S.-led boycott of 1980, the Soviet Union leads a 14-country boycott, citing security concerns.

The first privately-financed Olympics are a commercial success. In addition to a lucrative broadcasting deal, there are 34 official sponsors, 64 companies with supplier rights, and 65 licensees. These are the second Games ever to turn a profit—$215 million—the first being the 1932 Los Angeles Games.

The right to be part of the torch relay is sold for $3,000 a kilometer, over Greek protests, although the $11 million raised goes to local youth groups.

A record 140 nations show up, but, without the Soviets and East Germans, the Americans win almost three times as many medals as their closest competitors.

American Carl Lewis repeats Jesse Owens' 1936 feat, winning gold medals in the same four events.

16-year-old Mary Lou Retton earns her place on Wheaties boxes by winning four gymnastics medals—including a gold in all-around gymnastics—just six weeks after undergoing knee surgery.

In a compromise with FIFA, professional soccer players are allowed to compete, but only if they haven't been part of a World Cup event.


The IOC votes to change the schedule of the Olympics. Starting in 1984, the Summer Games and Winter Games will take place two years apart from one another, rather than in the same year.

Winter 1988

Calgary Winter Games

The Winter Games are spread over 16 days for the first time.

East German figure skater Katarina Witt defends her title, while American Brian Boitano gets the gold in the men's event.

Alberto "La Bomba" Tomba of Italy wins the men's slalom and giant slalom. In the women's events, Vreni Schneider does the same.

Loveable loser Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards comes in dead last in the 70-meter and 90-meter jumps, and is welcomed home by hundreds of fans in London.

calgary 1988
Jamaica enters its first bobsled team at the Winter Games in Calgary, but finishes in last place.

Summer 1988

Seoul Summer Games

North Korea refuses to participate, and Cuba and Ethopia follow suit in solidarity, but there are no widespread boycotts for the first time since 1972. 159 nations send 9,465 athletes, including 2,186 women.

Canadian Ben Johnson beats Carl Lewis in the 100-meter dash with a world-record time of 9.79. Shortly thereafter, he tests positive for steroid use and is stripped of his medal.

Florence Griffith Joyner of America wins four medals, three of them gold, in running events, while sister-in-law Jackie Joyner-Kersee wins the long jump and heptathlon.

Greg Louganis hits his head on the diving board but successfully defends his Olympic springboard title a few days later.

The last American basketball team without NBA players comes in third.

Tennis returns after a 64-year absence, and Steffi Graf gets the gold.

In the overall medal count, the rankings are U.S.S.R. (132), East Germany (102), U.S.A. (94).


The IOC votes to disallow unofficial demonstration events at Olympics, starting with the 1996 Games.

Winter 1992

Albertville Winter Games

Germany has reunited and the Soviet Union has broken up. In spite of the accompanying turmoil, the German team and Unified team of former Soviet states remain at the top of the rankings.

Norway sweeps the men's cross-country skiing events, thanks to Vegard Ulvang and Bjorn Daehlie.

The U.S. wins five gold medals, all by female athletes: speed-skater Bonnie Blair, figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, freestyle skier Donna Weinbrecht, and short track speed skater Cathy Turner.

Summer 1992

Barcelona Games

For the first time in decades, every single nation with an Olympic Committee shows up, even Cuba, North Korea, and South Africa. A record 172 nations participate, represented by 10,563 athletes.

Dream Team at the 1992 Summer OlympicsWith the door open to professional athletes, the U.S. sends a Dream Team including Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, and Karl Malone. As expected, they go undefeated.

Carl Lewis wins two more gold medals, bringing his total to eight.

13-year-old Fu Mingxia of China wins the platform diving event, making her the second-youngest person to win an individual gold medal.

World Cup athletes are now allowed to compete in soccer, but only three players over the age of 23 are allowed on each team, effectively making the Olympic event the under-23 championship.

Gymnast Vitaly Scherbo of the Unified Team wins six gold medals in gymnastics.

Cuba wins seven gold medals in boxing, and the first one ever awarded in baseball.

In the end, the Unified Team takes home 112 medals, the United States has 108, and Germany has 82. A total of 64 nations win at least one medal, the highest number yet.

Winter 1994

Lillehammer Winter Games

These are the only Winter Games to take place two years after the preceding ones.

Tonya and Harding 1994

It's the Tonya and Nancy show in figure-skating. Nancy Kerrigan gets the silver; Tonya Harding gets the notoriety. Ukraine's Oksana Baiul gets the gold.

Vreni Schneider, whose herniated disk had kept her from winning anything in 1992, wins medals in all three alpine skiing events, bringing her total to five

In speed skating, Norway's Johann Olav Koss wins three gold medals, setting a world record in each event. Dan Jansen finally wins a race, setting a world record in the 1,000m. And Bonnie Blair picks up two more gold medals in the 500m and 1,000m.

Norway, Germany, and Russia are at the top of the final standings.

Summer 1996.

Atlanta Games

Muhammad Ali lights the cauldron at the start of the Centennial Games. 179 nations participate; 79 win medals.

A pipe bomb in Centennial Olympic Park kills one person and injures 111, but the Games go on.

America's Michael Johnson wins both the 200m and 400m races; France's Marie-José Perec does the same.

Carl Lewis gets his ninth gold medal by winning the long jump.

Amy Van Dyken of the U.S. wins four gold medals in swimming, while Ireland's Michelle Smith wins three golds and a bronze. Smith is accused of using performance-enhancing drugs; this remains unproven, but she is suspended in 1998 for tampering with a urine sample.

The American women's teams win the first-ever softball and women's soccer events. They also win gymnastics, with the help of Kerri Strug, who nails her second vault despite a sprained ankle.

The United States returns to the top of the standings, followed by Russia and Germany.

Winter 1998

Nagano Winter Games

A record 2,177 athletes from 72 countries participate.

Snowboarding, curling, and women's ice hockey are introduced.

Austria's Hermann Maier wipes out on the men's downhill, flying through the air and two retaining fences, but wins two gold medals later in the Games.

Masahiko "Happy" Harada redeems himself from his 1994 failures, helping Japan's ski-jumping team win the gold.

Bjorn Daehlie wins three more gold medals in Nordic skiing, boosting his total to twelve medals (eight gold) overall.

15-year-old American figure skater Tara Lipinski becomes the youngest athlete to win a gold medal at the Winter Games.

Ice hockey is open to professionals for the first time, and the Czech Republic wins.

Germany, Norway, and Russia lead the overall rankings.

Summer 2000

Sidney Games

10,651 athletes (4,069 of them women) from 199 nations participate; the only nation excluded is Afghanistan.

North and South Korea enter the stadium under one flag.

Australian Aboriginal Cathy Freeman lights the cauldron at the start of the game, and goes on to win the 400m race.

British rower Steven Redgrave becomes the first athlete to win gold medals in five consecutive Olympics.

The U.S. softball team defends its title; Michael Johnson does the same in the 400m race.

17-year-old Ian Thorpe of Australia wins four medals (three gold) in swimming, breaking his own world record in the 400m freestyle.

American Marion Jones wins five track medals, three of them gold.

Russian gymnast Alexei Nemov takes home six medals, as he had done in Atlanta in 1996.

Eric "the Eel" Moussambani of Equatorial Guinea is this year's lovable loser, taking 152.72 seconds in the 100m freestyle swim. This is more than twice as long as Pieter van den Hoogenband's gold-winning performance.

There are 165 events for men, 135 for women, and 12 mixed events. Women are excluded from boxing and baseball; men are excluded from synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics, and softball.

The United States, the Russian Federation, and the People's Republic of China lead the medal-winners.


Jacques Rogge replaces Juan Samaranch as president of the IOC.

Winter 2002

Salt Lake City Winter Games

These Games are controversial starting about three years before they begin, as it is revealed that several IOC members accepted inappropriately large gifts in exchange for voting to hold the Games in Salt Lake City. At least four IOC members resign, as do top Salt Lake City committee officials, in the midst of several investigations, and the IOC pledges to change the way host cities are chosen.

Ground Zero Flag Olympics 2002Also controversial is the United States' decision to include, in the Opening Ceremony, a flag that had been at Ground Zero in New York. This is seen by some as contrary to the Olympic spirit.

These Games are also dominated by doping scandals. Spain's Johann Muehlegg and Russia's Larissa Lazutina and Olga Danilova are disqualified due to darbepoetin use; the first two lose gold medals, although all retain medals won before they were tested.

Britain's Alain Baxter similarly loses his bronze slalom medal after a drug test, although the drug detected turns out to be a Vicks inhaler. Unknown to him, it has a different formulation in America than in the UK. A later investigation clears him of all moral guilt, but his medal is not returned.

Elena Anton 2002Russian figure skating pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze win the gold over Canadian pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. The Canadians protest, the French judge admits to having been pressured to give the Russians a higher ranking, and, in an unprecedented ceremony, the Canadian pair is given gold medals, although the Russians retain theirs.

American Sarah Hughes gives the free-skating performance of a lifetime, nailing two triple-triple combinations and vaulting from fourth-place dark horse to gold medalist. This, too, has some measure of controversy, as a slight change in the judges' placement would have put Russia's Irina Slutkaya ahead, but that protest goes nowhere.

The International Skating Union votes to radically overhaul the scoring system for figure skating and ice dancing in future competitions.

The Canadian men's ice hockey team wins the gold medal, 50 years to the day after the last time they'd done so. Their women's ice hockey team also emerge victorious. In both cases, the Americans take the silver.

Skeleton is an event for the first time since 1948; for a change, John Heaton is not around to compete.

Claudia PechsteinGerman speed-skater Claudia Pechstein wins two gold medals, taking home a medal in four straight Winter Games. Teammate Georg Hackl gets the silver in luge, becoming the first athlete ever to win five medals in one event. Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen wins all four men's biathlon events.

For the first time since 1968, female athletes are not tested for gender. There are 41 men's events, 34 women's events, and 3 mixed events.

Germany, the United States, and Norway end up with the most medals, with Norway taking home the most golds.

Summer 2004

Athens Games

The Games return to Greece.

The Olympic medals get a new design, this time showing the Panathinaiko Stadium. This modification at last corrects the error made by Giuseppe Cassioli all the way back in 1928, when he used the Roman Colosseum for his design.

The 2004 summer games were hailed as "unforgettable, dream games" by IOC president Jacques Rogge, and left Athens with a significantly improved infrastructure, including a new airport, ring road, and subway system.

For the first time the Olympic Flame toured the world, visiting previous and next city hosts of the Olympic, before finally arriving to Greece.

The shot put event was held in ancient Olympia, site of the ancient Olympic Games (that is the very first time women athletes competed in Ancient Olympia), while the archery competition was held in the Panathinaiko Stadium, in which the 1896 games were held.

The USA won a total of 101 medals, of which 36 golden. China won 63 (32 gold medals), Russia 90 (28 gold medals). Greece has broken its previos record by winning a total of 16 medals, of which 16 golden.


At the 2005 Singapore meeting the IOC decided to eliminate baseball and softball from the 2012 Olympics, the first sports to be dropped since polo in 1936.

Winter 2006

Torino Winter Games

The second time that Italy hosts the Olympic Games. The official mascots were a woman and a man: Neve ("snow" in italian) who is a snowball and Gliz who is an ice cube.

There were a record breaking 80 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) at these Games – a first time for Albania, Ethiopia and Madagascar. These are the only Games where Serbia and Montenegro participated, as they took place between the time when country changed its name in 2003 and the moment when Montenegro declared its independence in May 2006.

Germany won the most medals – 29 (11 gold medals), followed by USA which one 25 (9 gold medals) and Austria on 23 (9 gold medals).


Jones CourtControversy continued around Marion Jones, the 2000 Olympic track star, when she announced her retirement from track and field after pleading guilty to Federal charges of using performance-enhancing drugs. Jones also confessed to making false statements during two government drug investigations. 

In November, the International Association of Athletics Federation decided that Jones must return all medals and money, including the $700,000 prize money, and forfeit all race results since September 1, 2000. Jones is officially suspended from competition until October 7, 2009.

Summer 2008

Beijing Summer Games

Human rights activists and government officials propose boycotting the 2008 Olympics in Beijing due to China's economic and military connections to Sudan, where more than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced by the civil war.

Concern about Beijing hosting the Summer Olympics resurfaced in March 2008 after Chinese police violently cracked down on protests by ethnic Tibetans and Buddhist monks in Lhasa, Tibet.

In April, protests by human rights groups disrupted the Olympic torch progression to Beijing..

Beijing 2008Air pollution in Beijing is at least two to three times higher than levels considered safe by the World Health Organization. Medical research by the IOC shows that air pollution will put athletes at risk and may inhibit their performance.

In an attempt to clear air pollution for the Summer Games, Chinese officials called a halt to construction work and quarrying and enforced a 30% emissions reduction for power plants in and around Beijing, effective July 20.

Between March 26 and April 6, Chinese officials arrested 35 members of a criminal ring based in Xinjiang for plotting to kidnap Olympic athletes, journalists, and others. Police found at least 22 pounds of explosives and 8 sticks of dynamite during their raids.

On May 8, 2008, the Olympic torch was carried by climbers to the b.roof of the world,b. reaching the 29,035-foot summit of Mount Everest at 0920 local time. During the ascent, Tibetan women were the first and last to carry the torch.

On May 19, 2008, the Olympic torch relay was suspended during a three-day national mourning period in honor of those who suffered from the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck China on May 12, 2008.

On July 23, 2008, authorities announced that peaceful public demonstrations will be allowed in Ritan Park, Beijing World Park, and Purple Bamboo Park during the 2008 Summer Games. Citizens must be approved by the local public security bureau five days before their intended protest.

On Aug. 8, 2008, the 2008 Summer Games commenced in Beijing with music, dancing, and fireworks at the opening ceremony.

All but one out of 205 NOCs that existed in 2008 were present at these Games (the exception being Brunei)Svaki osim jednog od 205 Nacionalnih Olimpijskih komiteta koji su postojali 2008 je učestvovao na Ljetnjoj olimpijadi (izuzetak je Brunej). Crna Gora, Maršalska ostrva i Tuvalu po prvi put učestvuju na Olimpijskim igrama. Crnogorski Olimpijski komitet je prihvaćen kao novi NOC u 2007 godini.

The 2008 Summer Games ended on Aug. 24 with the United States, China, and Russia taking home the most medals. Despite skepticism, the Beijing Games were widely praised as a success.

Winter 2010

Vancouver Winter Games

February 12, 2010 through February 28, 2010

On Feb. 12, 2010, shortly before the Games began, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died during a training run after his sled left the track and crashed into a pole. As a result of this tragedy, the start for the course was moved further down the track.

82 NOCs participated on Winter Games in 2010 and seven countries made their debut: Cayman Islands, Columbia, Ghana, Montenegro, Peru and Serbia..

Vancouver 2010 Winter OlympicsWhile the United States was the winner in the total medal count with 37, Canada's "Own the Podium" initiative proved successful, as Canada shattered its gold ceiling (in two previous Olympics, host Canada failed to win gold), winning 14 gold medals on home soil–a new record for a host country.

American Shaun White delighted snowboard fans with an unnecessary (he had already clinched the gold), but totally spectacular trick, the "Double McTwist 1260," which showcased not only the athlete's talent, but also the bold attitude that is advancing the sport.

In women's figure skating, Kim Yu-Na blew away the competition with grace and precision, and now proudly sports South Korea's first figure skating gold medal. Canada's Joannie Rochette won not only a bronze medal, but also our hearts as she stepped onto the ice, her legs shaking, to compete only four days after the death of her best friend and mother, Therese.

Apolo Anton Ohno became the most decorated American Winter Olympic athlete of all time, winning three medals, bringing his overall medal total to eight.

Summer 2012

London Summer Games

July 27, 2012, through August 12, 2012

July 27, 2012

Some 80,000 people in Olympic Stadium and billions worldwide watched the Opening Ceremony as Britain celebrated its milestones and points of pride, from the Industrial Revolution to its National Health System to Harry Potter, in a high-tech ceremony called The Isles of Wonder directed by Oscar winner Danny Boyle. One of the most talked about events featured stunt doubles for James Bond actor Daniel Craig and Queen Elizabeth jumping from an airplane and parachuting into the stadium.

The 2012 Games were the first in which each of the 205 participating countries sends at least one woman athlete.

July 31, 2012

Michael Phelps won his 19th Olympic medal, becoming the winningest Olympic athlete of all time. He surpassed the record held by Russian gymnast Larisa Latynina.

August 2, 2012

Phelps won his 20th medal, a gold in the 200m individual medley.

August 4, 2012

Phelps ended his Olympic swimming career with another gold medal. He amassed 22 medals in his Olympic career: 18 gold, two silver, and two bronze.

August 11, 2012

Montenegro wins its first ever Olympic medal – a silver in women's volleyball. Six more countries win their first medals at this event as well: Bahrain, Botswana, Cyprus, Gabon and Grenada.

Great Britain achieves their best result since the Games in 1908 (also held in London) and ends in third place overall. USA takes first place with 103 medals (46 golden), China was second at 88 (38 golden), while Great Britain takes third with a total of 65 medals, of which 29 golden.


In July and August 2013, Russia's new anti-gay bill sparked international protest and outrage. Athletes throughout the world threatened to boycott the 2014 Olympics in protest. The International Olympic Committee began probing Russia to see how the country would enforce the law during the Olympics. In an effort to do damage control over the controversy, the International Olympic Committee said by late July that it had "received assurances from the highest level of government in Russia that the legislation will not affect those attending or taking part in the Games."

On July 31, protesters gathered outside the Russian consulate in New York City and called for a boycott of the 2014 Olympics as well as sponsors of the Winter Games by dumping several cases of vodka. On August 10, hundreds gathered in London near the residence of Prime Minister David Cameron and demanded that the government pressure Russia into repealing the law.

On August 1, 2013, Vitaly L. Mutko, Russia's minister of sports, said to R-Sport, a state news agency, that gay athletes were welcome to attend the Winter Olympics in Sochi. However, Mutko pointed out that all athletes participating in the games would be expected to obey the new law and that no athlete or attendee could promote any nontraditional sexual orientation.

On Sunday, December 29, 2013, at least sixteen people were killed in a suicide bombing at a railroad station in Volgograd, a city in southern Russia. Nearly three dozen others were wounded. The following day another suicide bombing took place on a trolley bus in the same city. At least ten people were killed and ten others were wounded.

Both explosions came just six weeks before the Winter Olympics were being held in Sochi, 400 miles away from Volgograd. Never has a host country experienced this level of violent terrorism so close to the Olympic Games. During the Olympics, the government has planned for more than 40,000 law enforcement officials to be on hand at the event.

Winter 2014

Sochi Winter Games

February 7, 2014, through February 23, 2014

Soyuz RolloutFirst Games held in Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Olympic torch goes around the world, reaches the North Pole for the first time, as well as the outer space (where it was not lit for safety reasons).

A record breaking number of 88 NOCs participates, which breaks the previous high of 82 set at Vancouver Winter Games. Dominica, Malta, Paraguay, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tonga and Zimbabwe.

Russia wins the most medals – 33 (13 golden), Norway comes second with 26 (11 golden), while Canada takes third with 25 medals (11 golden). USA achieves a total of 28 medals, out of which only 9 gold medals, which is why it ended up in fourth.

Sources: Olympic.org www.olympic.org
History www.history.com
Infoplease www.infoplease.com
Wikipedia www.wikipedia.org

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