The Parthenon temple in the Acropolis of Athens, Greece
On the rebirth of the Olympic Games
Today marks the 125th anniversary of the first modern Olympic games, held in Athens in 1896—1,500 years after they were banned by the Roman Emperor. (The original games were held at least as far back as 776 BCE and probably earlier.) The 1896 games were held in the Panathenaic Stadium, in the shadow of the Acropolis of Athens, shown here. Those newly revived games of 1896 included athletes from 14 countries, with the largest delegations from Greece, Germany, France, and Great Britain. The 43 events included a marathon, tennis, cycling, fencing, shooting, Greco-Roman wrestling, and swimming. And while some things haven't changed over the years, some were pretty different back then. Swimmers were taken out to sea by boat for the longer races and had to swim back to shore. Winners were given a silver medal (copper for second place), as well as an olive branch and a diploma.
This is a unique time for the Olympics. We can look forward to the postponed 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo (now scheduled to start in July 2021) as well as the Winter Games in Beijing in 2022. The Beijing games will feature a mascot panda named Bing Dwen Dwen—and we swear we had nothing to do with it. 'Bing' means ice and symbolizes purity and strength, and 'Dwen Dwen' represents children. After the postponement of 2020, we can't wait to hear, 'Let the games begin!'