Athens 1896 Summer Olympic Games

On 6 April 1896, King George I of Greece opened the first modern Olympic Games at the partially renovated stadium in Athens. The event marked the beginning of the story of modern Olympic Games.

Time and Place: Athens (Greece); 6 April – 15 April 1896
Other candidates: /
Participation: 14 countries, 241 athletes (all male)
Number of sports: 9 sports, 43 events
Number of Slovenian athletes: /
Fire lit by: the Olympic fire was lit for the first time in Amsterdam in 1928. King George I
Olympic oath: beginning in 1920


Trivia from the Athens 1896 Summer Olympic Games

The first modern day Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece, and were opened on 6 April 1986 by King George I of Greece. The opening ceremony also marked the 75th anniversary of the Greek independence movement. The Games hosted men from 13 countries competing in 9 sports events: tennis (singles and doubles), fencing, weight lifting, track and field, cycling, wrestling, shooting, swimming and gymnastics. Competitions in rowing and sailing were also scheduled but had to be cancelled due to bad weather. Cricket and football tournaments were cancelled due to insufficient participation.Winners received an olive branch and silver medal and the second placed received an olive branch and a copper medal.


The idea of the Athens Games was born from the wish for reviving old ideals and realizing the ideas of Baron Pierre de Coubertin, father of the modern Olympic Games. It was uncertain whether the Games would even be held due to financial problems, but with the selfless labor of crown prince Constantine who was president of the organization committee, and the generous assistance of Georgios Averoff who donated 900,000 gold Drachmas, the premiere did indeed take off.  An additional financial injection was gained from selling lottery tickets and printing the first series of sports-themed stamps. The Games themselves did not pass without trouble. Bad weather literally blew away competitions in rowing and sailing and organizers were forced to cancel the football and cricket competitions due to insufficient participants.


The honor of becoming the first Olympic winner was bestowed upon American athlete James Brendan Connolly who won the triple jump. As in the antique Games, the winner received an olive branch, a paper certificate and a silver medal. Second placed competitors were given an olive branch and a copper medal.


The discus throw event was a bridge between the Athens Games and the antique Olympic Games. The marathon was infused with symbolism. The renowned track discipline continues to be a part of the Olympics to this day and is held in the memory of the run of a messenger at the Marathon battle in 490 BC. In Athens 1896, the marathon win went to local athlete Spiridion Louis.


The first modern Olympics were not attended by Slovenian representatives.