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When was the first Summer Olympics held? And when did it come to the US?

April 6th

1896_Olympic_opening_ceremonyApril 6, 1896 — The first Summer Olympics was held today. Officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was a multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece, through April 15. It was the first international Olympic Games held in the modern era.

Because Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, Athens was considered to be an appropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games. It was unanimously chosen as the host city during a congress organised by Pierre de Coubertin, a French pedagogue and historian, in Paris, on June 23, 1894. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was also instituted during this congress.

Despite many obstacles and setbacks, the 1896 Olympics were regarded as a great success. The Games had the largest international participation of any sporting event to that date. The Panathinaiko Stadium, the only Olympic stadium used in the 1800s, overflowed with the largest crowd ever to watch a sporting event.  The highlight for the Greeks was the marathon victory by their compatriot Spyridon Louis. The most successful competitor was German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann, who won four events.

The 1900 Summer Olympics was already planned for Paris and, except for the Intercalated Games of 1906, the Olympics did not return to Greece until the 2004 Summer Olympics — 108 years later.

Since then, Los Angeles has hosted two Summer Olympics games — in 1932 and 1984. The only Olympics held in the Southern Hemisphere so far have both been in Australia (Melbourne 1956 and Sydney 2000). In 2016, Rio de Janeiro will host the first Summer Games in South America.

Words of Wisdom

With deep feeling towards Baron de Coubertin's courteous petition, I send him and the members of the Congress, with my sincere thanks, my best wishes for the revival of the Olympic Games.

— King George of Greece, June 21, 1894

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