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Born on this day
Emil Racoviță
Emil Racoviță was a Romanian biologist, zoologist, speleologist, explorer of Antarctica.
46th week in year
15 November 2018

Important eventsBack

The first modern revival of the Olympic Games 15.11.1859

Wikipedia (07 Nov 2013, 11:43)

On November 15, 1859 the first modern revival of the athletic Olympic Games took place in Athens. As the renovation of the ancient Panathenaic stadium was not yet complete, the contests were held in Loudovikou square in Athens (modern Koumoundourou square). Although they could be termed as the first Olympic Games of the present tradition, it was far from being an international festival. They had a distinctly national character, since the participants were exclusively of Greek ethnicity, coming both from inside the independent Greek state and the Greek diaspora of the Ottoman Empire. Athletes competed in a variety of disciplines, similar to those of the ancient Olympic games: running, discus, javelin throwing, wrestling, jumping and pole climbing.

Attendees included the king, officers and other dignitaries in rows of seats, as well as half of the inhabitants of Athens in the stands. Since it was one of the first mass gatherings in the city's modern history, neither the people nor the police had any previous experience with maintaining the order at such an event. The press of that time lauded the Games as being positive, but they were a disappointment for thousands of Athenians who could not see anything from the rear stands and who did not understand this kind of event. The site was also unsuited for the sports and the weather was too cold. Moreover, the athletic competition had a more game-like than sportive character: as athletes did not exist at the time, the Organising Committee accepted the participation of workers, porters, etc., who were attracted by the monetary prizes of the Games. According to the press of the time, many comical incidents took place during the games: for instance, a policeman, who was assigned to watch over the crowds, left his post and participated in the races. Even a beggar, who pretended to be blind, participated in the races.

The Committee of the Wenlock Olympian Class, brainchild of the English doctor and surgeon  William Penny Brookes, sent £10 to Athens for a prize for the best runner in the longest race at the Olympic Games. The Wenlock Prize was the largest prize on offer and was won by Petros Velissarios of Smyrna from the Ottoman Empire who was of Greek ethnic descent.

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