As the world assembles in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro on August 5 to 21 to celebrate the greatest sports events in the world, 10,500 athletes from 206 countries are expected to showcase their physical talents, in line with the ancient Greek ideal of building a peaceful and better world through sports.
The seventeen days’ celebrations will have 36 medal events, including 136 women’s, 161 men’s and 9 mixed events, making a total of 306 events to be contested in 42 sports. They also include the latest two additions, golf which is returning after 112 years and rugby which is also returning after 92 years.
There are 32 competition venues in four regions; 15 in Barra, 4 in Maracana, 4 in Copacabana and 9 in Deodora. The organizing committee has announced 7.5 million tickets available and they can be purchased online.
Accordingly, there will be 25,000 tennis balls, 8,400 shuttlecocks and 315 horses, along with 60,000 clothes’ hangers, 100,000 chairs, 72, 000 tables, 34,000 beds. They will serve11 million meals.
There will be 45,000 volunteers, 85,000 outsourced staff and 6,500 employees.
The Olympic Games started in Olympia, Greece with the first games held in 776 BC. It was suspended in 392 AD after Theodosius the Great (Theodosius I), the Christian emperor of the east Roman Empire, outlawed the Olympic Games because the Christian church enjoyed its full support and waged war against heresy and any notion of the ancient ‘pagan’ religion.
The games resumed 1,500 years later in 1896 in Athens, Greece, through the initiative of Frenchman Baron Pierre de Coubertin.
The Olympic Games are celebrated like the annual County Sports Meet in Liberia where Liberians put all their problems behind them to cheer the sporting teams to victory.
The most significant event in the early history of the Games is the birth of the Olympic truce (824 BC). The truce began as a month-long “Holy Treaty” between King Iphitos of Elis (city that controlled Olympia), King Lykourgos of Sparta, and King Kleosthenes of Pisa. Other Greek city-states subsequently ratified this agreement. A key to the success of the truce was the perpetual neutrality of Elis (which it maintained until 420 BC during the Peloponnesian War), according to the website Olympic-Legacy.com.
The Olympic truce changed the Games from a local event into a growing PanHellenic competition that drew competitors and spectators from neighboring regions. And Baron de Coubertin also supported the belief that sports can unite a troubled world.
The motto of the Olympic Games is: (In Latin) Citius, Altius, Fortius, meaning Faster, Higher, Stronger and the values are excellence, friendship and respect.