Amazing Facts About The Original Olympics

By: Carol Kingston | Last updated: Nov 30, 2022

The 2022 Tokyo Olympics took place during a difficult time for the entire world. The Corona virus devastated every aspect of life. As a result, the attendance of the Tokyo Olympics was not open to the whole public as compared to previous events, which saw stadia full for the entirety of the games. Despite that, people streamed these games all over the world. The games had an audience of over 64 million streams through the Olympics App alone.

Today’s numbers and nature of our Olympic events trump what the first Olympic event was. Looking at today’s Olympics, you might disregard whatever happened in 776 BCE. However, the original Olympic event still has much significance today. That is why we shall learn about the amazing facts about the original Olympics.

First Regular Olympics

The next Olympic games will be in 2024. These games usually occur after four years. The pandemic altered the sequence and pushed the 2020 games to 2022. The correct Olympics interval will resume with the 2024 Olympics. But have you ever wondered why the Olympics come after every four years?


Initially, Olympic events were for the aristocrats, but they were never regular events. Eventually, the Greeks started the culture of having these games after every Olympiad, which was a four-year season.


First Olympics With an Open Audience

Previous games in the ancient cultures were only for the chosen few. The audience was the kings and the aristocrats of the societies then. The regular citizen did not get to enjoy it.


But the Olympics of 776 BCE were the first Olympics that opened doors to an audience. People would travel to see the games. The first Olympics were not well attended, but as the culture caught on, tens of thousands would travel from all over the world to attend.

One Athletic Event Olympics

Close your eyes and imagine it. Think of the magnitude of today’s Olympics. How many Olympic Games can you name offhand? I’m sure you can name more than one. Today’s Olympic Games serve us a buffet of games that we choose what to pay attention to depending on our preference.


The ancient Greeks, especially in the first Olympic event, did not have such a luxury. There was only one game in the entire Olympics. However, later many other games were introduced. But for the first Olympics, they were stuck with the stadion.

The Stadion Race

The stadion race was named after where it was held, which was inside a stadion. In the first Olympics, the stadion was the only event.


The stadion was similar to the 200 meters sprint event of the current Olympics. The race had 20 participants who ran approximately 180 meters. Olympic officials manned both the starting and finishing points to determine the winner correctly. The few seconds of sprint climaxed the whole Olympic event.

The Olympics Were Held at the Stadion

The stadion was the primary venue for the first Olympics. Like we have our Olympics today in stadiums, the first Olympics was held in a stadion. People would flood into the stadion to witness these four-year games.

Nowadays, we have track and field games, but it was only one game in the first Olympics. The stage for the stadion race was right in the middle of the stadion. The tracks were marked to accommodate 20 competitors. There was also a marked starting point and finish point.


The Start Gun Was a Trumpet

On your mark. Get set. Go. A start gun marks today, Go. In the first Olympics, it was marked by a sharp trumpet sound.

The ‘before the race practices’ look similar to today’s. The athletes would each take their position at the starting position. The officials would check everybody and confirm no one is trying to have an unfair advantage, like having a foot before the starting point. Once everything was set and the audience’s adrenaline could be visible, another official would shout the Greek version of on your mark, get set, and then a loud trumpet would go off.


They Started From a Standing Position

Today, most Olympic races start from a crouching position. They also have a launchpad that gives them leverage while starting. Back in the day, athletes taking part in the stadion race started while standing. They had to put their arms out and stay set.

There was, however, a stone start line. Later, the stone start line was improved, and they carved four inches groove that athletes would use to launch themselves into the race.


An Olympiad Named After the Winner

Thinking of today’s equivalent of the stadion would be a 200-meter sprint. When athletes today win such an event, their award is gold. But in Greek times, apart from various rewards, the winner would have the next four years named after him.

Since the Olympics were every four years, a period known as an Olympiad, the winner of the stadion would have the next Olympiad named after him. Therefore, people would refer to years in relation to the winner of the previous Olympic game, which was only the stadion.


A Rerun Broke a Tie

The Olympics employed officials at the start of the race and the finish line. Part of the work of the officials at the end of the race was to see who crossed the finish line first and award them as the winner. But what if the race was too tight and there was no clear winner. There would be a rerun, which would offset the tie.

If we used this criterion today, we would have never-ending reruns. Today’s athletes are very competitive that some only win by microseconds. Thank you for the technology. We do not have to go to reruns.


The Olympics Were Held in Honor of Zeus

Zeus was the supreme god of the ancient Greeks. The first Olympic Games were held in honor of him. There were other Olympic events held in honor of other gods. But the 776 BCE main Olympics held in Olympia in the city of Ellis were dedicated to Zeus.

The other games dedicated to other gods were Pythian Games in honor of Apollo, the Nemean Games in honor of Zeus and Heracles, and the Isthmian Games in honor of Poseidon.