The centenary Olympic Games were held at Atlanta in the United States of America from 17th July to 4th August 1996. It was the hundredth year of the commencement of modern Olympic Games which revived by the French educator Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1986. Athletes from 197 countries participated in the games and it was the biggest Olympic event ever held. The United States of America stood first in the Olympic Games, winning the maximum number of medals, followed by Russia and Germany. India’s performance in the event was unsatisfactory. Though India expected a medal in hockey, her hockey team got only 8th place. Most of her athletes couldn’t even qualify for the competition. India’s only gain was the bronze medal won by the Leander Paes in tennis.
Olympic Games are international athletic competition held every four years. They were first held on the plains of Olympia in Greece for honouring Greek gods. The first such recorded festival of games was held in 776 B.C. There are records of Olympic Game held from 776 B.C. to 393 A.D., after which they are stopped by a Roman emperor. Olympic Games were started again because of the efforts of a French man called Baron Pierre de Coubertin. He was an educator believed that athletic competition between the nations would promote better relations between them. The first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.
The Olympic motto is “Swifter,Higher,Stronger”. The Olympic symbol comprises 5 rings linked together to represent the friendship of all peoples and also to represent the five continents- Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. Each ring is of different colour – blue, yellow,black, green and red. The Olympic flag has interlocking ring on plain white background. the Olympic flame is first lit by the sun’s ray at Olympia and then carried to the site of the games by relays of runners. The winners were presented with a crown of olive branches in the ancient times. But, today they are given medals and certificates.
Olympic Games serve a useful purpose in stimulating interest in sports. The sense of competition urges the athletes of various countries to keener endeavours. The desire to distinguish themselves leads the sportsmen of different nations to achieve the highest proficiency they are capable of in the field of sports. Body vigour, physical endurance, ability, quickness and skill thus touch greater heights. New records are set and new standards of excellence are established. The games start with elaborate ceremonies. The flags of all the participating nations are paraded. Lakhs of spectators assemble daily to watch the games. There is widespread excitement and enthusiasm.
Olympic Games provide an opportunity to the youth of various nations to meet one another in friendly contests. A spirit of brotherhood is promoted among the youths. On the playfield all meets as equals. All distinctions of caste, colour,creed and nationality are set aside and a general atmosphere of goodwill prevails. These games lead to mutual understanding among the nations and contribute to international peace.