History Timelines

Olympic Games Timeline

Olympic Games Timeline

Olympic Games Timeline




Detailed Information

776BCEAthens, GreeceFirst Olympics

First recorded evidence of the ancient Olympic games. The games were held at Olympia. There was only one event - the men's 200m sprint.

490BCEGreeceFirst Marathon

The messenger Pheidippedes ran 42km from Sparta to Athens to bring the news of the Greek victory at the battle of Marathon.


With large numbers of young men having to go to fight against the Spartans there were fewer athletes able to train and compete in the games and so they began to fall into decline.

394CERoman EmpireOlympics banned

The Roman Emperor, Theodosius I, abolished the games claiming they were a pagan event.

1612Cotswolds, UKCotswold Olympick Games

Robert Dover, a barrister, founded the Cotswold Olympick Games. The games featured horse racing, fencing, shin-kicking and throwing the hammer.

1766GreeceAncient Olympia site found

Englishman Richard Chandler discovered the site of ancient Olympia.

1796FranceFrench Olympic Revival

L'Olympiade de la République was an olympic-style yearly competition held between 1796 and 1798 in France.

1850Shropshire, UKWenlock Olympian Games

An Olympic-style yearly sports festival was established in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, UK by Dr William Penny Brookes. It continues to this day.

1859GreeceZappian GamesDr William Penny Brookes persuaded Greek Evangelis Zappas to stage a revival of the ancient Olympic games. Brookes sent 10 pounds to be used as prize money.
1875GreeceOlympia ExcavatedA German-funded team of archeologists excavated the site of ancient Olympia.
1890Shropshire, UKPierre de Coubertin visited Much WenlockPierre de Coubertin was invited to attend the Much Wenlock games by Dr William Penny Brookes.
1894FranceIOC foundedThe International Olympic Committee was founded by Baron Pierre de Coubertin who took the title of President of the committee. Coubertin suggested that the Olympics be re-established as an international four-yearly event to be hosted by different countries each time.
1896Athens GreeceFirst Modern Olympic GamesThe first modern Olympic games was held in Athens, Greece. All winners were presented with an olive branch and a silver medal.
1900Paris, FranceWomen competed for the first timeParis hosted these games without a stadium. Most events were held in the Bois de Boulogne and swimming events were held in the river Seine. Women competed for the first time.
1904St Louis, USAGold, silver and bronze medals were introducedGold, silver and bronze medals were introduced. Winners of events were given a gold medal, second place a silver medal and third place a bronze medal.
1908London, UKOlympic StadiumFor the first time the Olympics take place in a purpose built stadium. Figure skating was introduced as an Olympic sport. Australia and New Zealand competed together as Australasia.
1912Stockholm, SwedenCompetitors from all 5 continentsAthletes from all 5 continents take part. A public address system and electric timing devices were used for the first time. The Decathlon and Pentathlon were introduced for the first time.
1914-Olympic RingsPierre de Coubertin designed the Olympic symbol of 5 interlocking rings to signify the 5 continents - Africa, Americas, Asia, Australasia and Europe
1916CancelledDue to be held in Berlin this games was cancelled due to World War One
1920Antwerp, BelgiumDoves first releasedThe Olympic rings symbol was used for the first time. It was depicted on a flag with a white background which has been used ever since and is known as the Olympic flag. The opening ceremony saw doves, which symbolise peace, released for the first time. Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and Turkey were not allowed to take part because they were defeated in World War One
1924Chamonix, FranceWinter OlympicsThe first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix France
1924Paris, FranceSummer OlympicsThe games returned to Paris France
1928St Moritz, SwitzerlandWinter OlympicsThe second Winter Olympics held in St Moritz, Switzerland
1928Amsterdam, NetherlandsSummer Olympics

Olympic Flame first lit

Amsterdam had previously bid for the 1920 and 1924 games. The Olympic flame was lit for the first time and burned throughout the entire competition. At the opening ceremony Greece led the athletes procession with the host nation at the end for the first time.
1930UruguayFirst FIFA World CupJules Rimet abandoned all hope of incorporating football into the Olympic games and established a separate competition - the FIFA World Cup.
1932Lake Placid, USAWinter OlympicsFirst Winter Olympics in America
1932Los Angeles, USASummer OlympicsFirst use of a photo finish camera. First time winners stood on a tiered stand with national flags raised above them
1936Garmisch-Partenkirchen, GermanyWinter OlympicsAlpine skiing was introduced for the first time.
1936Berlin, GermanyFirst televised Olympics

Summer Olympics

First Olympics to be televised, however the footage could only be watched on local television. Basketball became an Olympic sport for the first time and was won by the USA.
1940Cancelled-Cancelled due to World War Two
1944Cancelled-Cancelled due to World War Two
1948St Moritz, SwitzerlandWinter OlympicsGermany and Japan were not invited to take part
1948London, UKAusterity Games

Summer Olympics

Dubbed the 'Austerity Games' as there was no money to fund a lavish spectacle.
1948Stoke Mandeville GamesForerunner to ParalympicsSir Ludwig Guttmann organised a sports event for recuperating British veterans of World War Two to coincide with the London Games. It was called the Stoke Mandeville Games after the leading rehabilitation hospital at Stoke Mandeville and became an annual event.
1952Oslo, NorwayWinter OlympicsAfter much discussion Germany and Japan were allowed to compete
1952Helsinki , FinlandSummer Olympics
1956Cortina d'Ampezzo, ItalyWinter OlympicsSnow had to be imported into the country before the games could even begin.
1956Melbourne, AustraliaBoycotts

Summer Olympics

Iraq, Lebanon and Egypt boycotted the games in protest at the British, French and Israeli invasion of Egypt (Suez Crisis)
Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland boycotted the games in protest at the Soviet invasion of Hungary
The People's Republic of China boycotted the games in protest at the games' recognition of Formosa (now Taiwan)
1960Squaw Valley, USAWinter OlympicsThe games were awarded to Squaw Valley despite its not being a city but a winter sports resort
1960Rome, ItalySummer OlympicsMany events took place in the ancient ruins around the city.
Sir Ludwig Guttmann brought a team of disabled athletes to compete in a games parallel to the Olympics. The name was shortened to Paralympics.
1964Innsbruck, AustriaWinter OlympicsWarm weather meant that the Austrian army had to bring lorry loads of snow from alpine regions before the games could begin
1964Tokyo, JapanSummer OlympicsFirst Olympics held in Asia
1968Grenoble, FranceWinter OlympicsAn Olympic ban on branded equipment was revoked after many competitors protested that without donated equipment from sponsors they would not be able to compete at all
1968Mexico City, MexicoSummer OlympicsFirst Olympics held in Central America.
Tommie Smith and John Carlos both give the 'black power' salute as the US national anthem is played in protest against racial prejudice in America.
1972Sapporo, JapanWinter OlympicsFirst Winter Olympics to be held in Asia.
1972Munich, GermanySummer OlympicsBlack September terrorists killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team
1976Innsbruck, AustriaWinter OlympicsOriginally awarded to Denver, USA but transferred to Innsbruck when Denver rejected the offer due to costs
1976Montreal, CanadaSummer Olympics31 nations boycotted the games as a protest against the New Zealand rugby team's recent game with South Africa
Increased costs together with a reduced number of visitors nearly bankrupted Montreal
1980Lake Placid, USAWinter OlympicsThe Winter games were held at Lake Placid for a second time
1980Moscow, Soviet UnionWestern boycott,

Summer Olympics

61 Nations refused to compete in these games as a protest against Russia's invasion of Afghanistan.
1984Sarajevo, YugoslaviaWinter OlympicsTorvill and Dean, GB skaters scored perfect 6's for their Bolero routine
1984Los Angeles, USAEastern boycott

Summer Olympics

15 communist block countries refused to compete in these games in retaliation for the boycott of the Moscow Olympics 4 years earlier. Romania was the only communist block country to take part and came 2nd in the medals table.
1986Amateur status requirement droppedThe IOC agreed to drop the requirement that competitors taking part in the Olympics had to have amateur status. The official Olympic Charter was amended accordingly.
1988Calgary, CanadaWinter OlympicsThe Winter games were extended to 16 days
1988Seoul, South KoreaSummer Olympics11 medalists disqualified for using banned substances. The cost of the games was met by the sale of TV broadcasting rights.
1992Albertville, FranceWinter OlympicsAlbertville is the smallest place to host an Olympics
1992Barcelona, SpainSummer OlympicsFormer Soviet Union members competed as a Unified Team and Germany competed as one nation following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
1994 winterLillehammer, NorwayWinter OlympicsNorway's only Olympics to date
1996Atlanta, USASummer OlympicsTelevision rights were sold for a record sum and Coca-Cola was a major sponsor of these games.
1998Nagano, JapanWinter OlympicsWomen's ice hockey debuted at this Olympics
2000Sydney, AustraliaSummer OlympicsSteve Redgrave won a fifth consecutive gold medal in rowing.
2002Salt Lake City, USAWinter OlympicsDespite members of the IOC accepting sweetners from the NOC Salt Lake City did not lose the right to stage these games.
2004Athens, GreeceSummer OlympicsThe games returned to Athens. The cost involved in staging the Olympics, especially with regard to increased security provision following the 9/11 terror attacks led to delays and venues were completed only just in time.
2006Turin, ItalyWinter OlympicsThe second Winter Olympics held in Italy
2008Beijing, ChinaSummer Olympics43 world records and 132 Olympic records were broken during the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals in swimming the most ever at a single Olympics
2010Vancouver, CanadaWinter OlympicsThe first games to hold its opening ceremony indoors
2012London, UKSummer OlympicsThe games return to London for the third time
2014Sochi, RussiaWinter Olympics
2016Rio de Janeiro, BrazilSummer Olympics