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Olympic Spirit will Reignite in London in 2012

The next Summer Olympic Games will be in London, in the United Kingdom, from July 27 to August 12 in 2012. This event occurs in a different city every 4 years for top athletes from various countries to compete in sports.

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Olympic Games

The Summer Olympic Games include a range of sporting events, such as swimming.

Illustration based on artwork from ©iStockphoto.com/Juan Monino/Oey Yu Kwok

About the Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are a global multi-sporting event subdivided into summer and winter sporting events. The summer and winter games, which are held every four years, both occurred in the same year until 1992.

Since then, the summer games are held during the first year of an Olympiad and the winter games are held during the third year. Summer sports may include aquatics, athletics, cycling, fencing, judo, tennis, volleyball, wrestling and much more. Winter sports include the biathlon, bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, luge, skating and skiing.

The summer games are usually highlighted by a torch relay featuring the Olympic flame prior to the official opening ceremony. In the context of the modern Olympic Games, the Olympic flame represents positive values associated with fire. The relay begins in Olympia, Greece a few months before the opening of the Olympic Games. The flame is lit in front of the ruins of the Temple of Hera by actresses playing the part of priestesses. For the winter games the torch is lit in the same way as for the summer games, with one difference: the handing over of the flame to the first runner takes place near the monument to Pierre de Coubertin near the stadium.

Another highlight prior to the competitions is the opening ceremony, which features a parade, an opening speech, the Olympic anthem, and raising the Olympic flag. Following the Olympic Games are the Paralympic Games. The Paralympics are elite sport events for athletes from six different disability groups.

What Do People Do?

Billions of people around the world tune to their televisions, radios, newspapers, websites and other forms of media to keep up-to-date with the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games attracts global media attention and people on every continent tune into this event. During the Sydney Summer Olympics in 2000, there were more than 16,000 broadcasters and journalists, and an estimated 3.8 billion viewers watched this event on television.

Many people flock to the Olympic Games to watch a sporting event or to become a volunteer. These volunteers show hospitality to guests around the world.

Those who cannot attend the Olympic Games organize a range of activities to ignite the “Olympic Spirit”. Many hold gatherings at a community hall or a private home to watch or listen to sporting events that are part of the Olympics. Businesses, organizations and individuals may hold local Olympic-themed events in support of the Olympic Games. Many people feel that the Olympic culture around the world is one of unity and showcases talents of representatives from the many countries that compete in the games.

Public Life

Although the Olympic Games are not a public holiday, many governments of host cities have, over the years, issued public notices on temporary traffic control measures. These measures may include road restrictions.

Some businesses in host cities suspend their operations during the Olympic Games. Some workers living in host cities take their annual vacation during this time of the year to volunteer for or watch the Olympic Games. Hotel reservation rates also rise during the games.

Background

On June 23, 1894 Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in a ceremony held at the University of Sorbonne in Paris. Demetrius Vikelas from Greece became the first president of the IOC. Two years later, in 1896, the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, where Coubertin was elected as the second IOC president, a role which he remained in until 1925. The second Olympic Games took place in Paris, France. It was the first Olympic event where women were allowed to compete. Past Olympic sports that are no longer practiced at the Olympic Games include tug-of-war, golf, rugby, polo and lacrosse.

Over the years, the Olympic Games have grown in both size and popularity. More than 200 countries currently participate in the Olympics, which started with less than 250 athletes at the first games in 1896. The last Summer Olympics was in Beijing, the People's Republic of China, from August 8-24, 2008.

Symbols

The Olympic spirit is symbolized by the Olympic flag (including logo), charter, motto, anthem, emblems, posters, mascots, torches, medals, and pictogram. The flag features five interlaced Olympic rings at the center on a white background. The rings’ colors are blue, yellow, black, green and red. Each ring represents one of five continents united by Olympism. The flag therefore reinforces the idea of the Olympic Movement’s universality through uniting countries around the world. The Olympic charter is the codification of the fundamental principles of Olympism, while the Olympic motto is made up of three Latin words “Citius, Altius, Fortius”, meaning “Faster, Higher, Stronger”.

In the context of the modern Olympic Games, the Olympic flame, which is a key part of the torch relay, represents the positive values that are associated with fire. The purity of the flame is guaranteed by the way it is lit using the sun’s rays. The choice of Olympia as a departure point emphasizes the link between the ancient and modern games and underlines the profound connection between these two events.

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