Baron Pierre de Coubertin, an influential French aristocrat and historian, proposed a revival of the Ancient Olympic Games at a congress that he organised in Paris in 1894. The congress resulted in the formation of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Athens was chosen to stage the first of the Modern Olympics in 1896.

Pierre de Coubertin had been keen for the inaugural Games to be held in Paris but as Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympics, Athens was perceived to be the more appropriate choice to stage the first Games of the modern era.

They became known as the Games of the First Olympiad and were declared a success. However the subsequent two Games after this were fraught with controversy and confusion.

Both the Games of the Second Olympiad in Paris in 1900 and the Games of the Third Olympiad in St Louis, Missouri in 1904 were held in conjunction with the World’s Fair, and the sporting events were simply treated as a side-show to the main fair. They were disorganised, the venues were poor and there were no officially agreed rules and regulations.

In fact the 1900 and 1904 Games almost caused the downfall of the Modern Olympic movement and it took the interim Games of 1906 held in Athens and the London Games of 1908 to get them back on track.

After the success of the inaugural Modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 there were calls for the Games to be staged there permanently. However Pierre de Coubertin rejected this believing that they should be organised in different countries every four years in order to raise awareness of the Olympic movement and to ensure that they were truly international and more nations could compete.

It was finally agreed to hold the second of the Modern Olympic Games in de Coubertin’s home city of Paris but the staging of the 1900 Games became embroiled in political controversy. The French Government took control, a new committee was formed to take over from the IOC to oversee all sporting events...

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Author: Robin Voigt