Opening ceremony to be held in Rio de Janeiro today Summer Olympic Games. The Olympics are not only a sporting event, but also a cultural and political event: by the way the competitions are held, one can judge both the relations between individual countries and the situation in the world as a whole. This year, for the first time, a team of refugees will take part in the games - and this is also an important sign of the times. We decided to recall ten more events that changed the modern Olympic Games.
Women took part in the Games for the first time
The Olympic Games were revived in a relatively modern form at the end of the 19th century. Women first took part in them in 1900 and were eligible to compete in only five sports: tennis, croquet, horse riding, golf and sailing. Of the 997 Olympic athletes, 22 were women. Over time, there were more athletes at the Olympics: if in the 1928 games, women accounted for 10% of the total number of athletes, then by 1960 this figure increased to 20%.
The first woman joined the IOC executive committee only in 1990. After that, in 1991, the IOC made a historic decision: now, in all sports that are included in the program of the Olympic Games, women's competitions should also be held. But it is too early to talk about full gender equality: at the Sochi Olympics, women accounted for 40% of the total number of participants. In some countries, it is still difficult for women to participate in the Olympic Games: for example, in Saudi Arabia, women were allowed to compete only in 2012.
African American Jesse Owens wins four gold medals
The African American athlete won the gold medal for the first time in 1908: John Taylor took first place on the team in the mixed relay. But much better known is the story of Jesse Owens, an African American athlete who won four gold medals and set the world long jump record at the 1936 Olympics. The Olympic Games were held in Nazi Germany, and Owens had to fight for the gold in the long jump with the German Luz Long - Long was the first to congratulate him after the victory, and then together they made a circle of honor around the stadium.
“When I returned home, after all these stories about Hitler, I still had no right to go in front of the bus,” the athlete later recalled. “I had to go to the back door. I couldn't live where I wanted. I was not invited to shake hands with Hitler, but I was not invited to the White House to shake hands with the president."
First broadcast of the Olympic Games
The 1936 Berlin Olympics were televised for the first time: 25 special rooms were opened in Berlin, where the Olympic Games could be watched for free. The 1960 Olympic Games were broadcast in Europe and the United States: every evening, after the end of the competition, a recording of the games was sent to New York, and then it was broadcast on CBS.
Television broadcasts have changed the Olympic Games: now it is not just a sports event, but also an expensive show - the opening and closing ceremonies of the games interest the audience almost more than the competitions themselves, and famous brands and designers provide the national teams with uniforms.
The birth of the Paralympic movement
On July 29, 1948, on the opening day of the London Olympic Games, the neurosurgeon Ludwig Guttman, at the request of the British government, organized sports competitions on the grounds of the Stoke Mandeville hospital for WWII veterans with spinal cord injuries. Since then, the Stoke Mandeville Games began to be held annually, and in 1952 they became international: former soldiers from Holland took part in them.Eight years later, in 1960, the Stoke Mandeville Games were first held in the same city where the Olympics were held - in Rome; the competition was named "The First Paralympic Games".
Now the Paralympic Games are held in the same year and at the same sports grounds as the Olympics. 4,237 athletes from 164 countries took part in the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
Protest against racism
Although the Olympic Games are considered to be an event free from politics, it is not uncommon to make political statements in competition. At the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, track and field athletes Tommy Smith and John Carlos, who set the 200m world record, staged a protest. Athletes wore the Olympic Human Rights Project badges at the awards ceremony. They climbed the pedestal, taking off their shoes, in black socks, to show how poor the African American population is. As the anthem played, the athletes lowered their heads and raised their black-gloved fists in protest against racism in the United States. Who exactly came up with this idea is unknown: both athletes later claimed that they offered to raise their fists up.
The IOC criticized the actions of Smith and Carlos, calling their actions "a deliberate and flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of the Olympic spirit." The press was also outraged, and the athletes were expelled from the team. Homes Smith and Carlos also faced severe condemnation. But, despite all the warnings and prohibitions, the protests at the Olympics continued: the winners of the 400m race came to the awards ceremony in black berets, and the winners of the women's 4x100 relay dedicated their medals to Carlos and Smith.
Recognition of the act of athletes came much later, in the eighties. In 2005, a statue of them with fists raised was erected at California State University at San Jose, where Tommy Smith and John Carlos studied.
Munich terrorist attack
The 1972 Munich Olympics were overshadowed by a terrorist attack. On September 5, eight Palestinian terrorists entered the Olympic Village, killed two members of the Israeli team, and took nine more members of the national team hostage. The hostage rescue operation was unsuccessful - all nine were subsequently killed; in addition, five terrorists and a policeman were killed. The competition was suspended, but 34 hours later the IOC decided to resume it - in protest against terrorism.
African countries boycott the Olympics
In the days leading up to the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, more than twenty African countries announced they were boycotting the competition. Kenya was the last to announce its intention to boycott the games. James Osogo, the country's foreign minister, issued an official statement a few hours before the opening ceremony of the games: "The government and people of Kenya believe that principles are more important than medals."
African countries refused to participate in the games because of the New Zealand national team: the New Zealand rugby team, which is not part of the Olympic team, played a match in the summer with the South African national team, where the apartheid regime was operating. The South African national team was removed from the Games in 1964, but the protesters considered these measures insufficient: they believed that countries or sports teams should not interact in any way with the South African government.
This is far from the only boycott in the history of the Olympic Games: the 1980 Olympics, held in Moscow, were boycotted by 56 countries in protest against the introduction of Soviet troops into Afghanistan. The USSR and other countries of the socialist camp in response decided to boycott the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Derek Redmond Run
At the Olympic Games, there is a place not only for significant political events, but also for simple human stories: they do not change the course of the games, but help viewers to look at themselves and their lives in a new way. One of the most dramatic moments in gaming history is Derek Redmond's 400m race at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.The British athlete had serious chances for a medal, but during the semifinal race, he tore his tendons. Instead of leaving the race, Redmond decided to continue the race, hoping that he could still get around the other athletes. His father Jim ran to the athlete's aid and asked him to stop. Derek refused - and then his father said that they would finish together: both reached the finish line on foot, and the video footage of the race shows how hard and painful each step is for Derek and how upset he is by the defeat. Unfortunately, the athlete never managed to achieve success: two years after the games in Barcelona, after eleven operations on the Achilles tendon, his sports career ended.
North and South Korea marched together at the opening ceremony
Since ancient times, one of the main messages of the Olympic Games is that sports competitions should bring peace. At the opening ceremony of the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, North and South Korea brought this idea to life: the delegations of the countries marched together under a common flag depicting the Korean Peninsula. The flag was carried by South Korean basketball player Jung Sung Chun and Park Chong Choi, a judoka from the DPRK. The countries also marched together at the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and 2006 in Turin - but in 2008 they decided to split again.
Katie Freeman wins
At the 2000 ceremony, athlete Katie Freeman was honored to light the Olympic flame. This event had a great symbolic meaning: Freeman is from Australian aborigines, and by the fact that it was she who was entrusted to light the fire, the organizers wanted to show the desire of Australians to reunite with the indigenous people of the continent. This is especially important because opponents of the Olympics in Australia accused the government and people of the country of racism.
Later, Katie Freeman won gold in the 400m race, and the athlete ran the circle of honor with the flag of the Aborigines of Australia.
The team of refugees is participating in the Olympics
This year, for the first time, the refugee team will participate in the Olympic Games: in this way, the organizers hope to draw world attention to the migration crisis. The national team includes ten athletes - six men and four women from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They will perform under the white Olympic flag and will be held in front of the Brazilian national team at the opening ceremony. The IOC is committed to supporting athletes after the games.
“It will become a symbol of hope for all refugees and show the world the scale of the crisis,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “It is also a sign to the entire international community that refugees are people like us and they are of great benefit to our society.”
Photos: Wikipedia (1, 2), Wikimedia Commons