The Olympic Games is an international multi-sport event subdivided into summer and winter sporting events. The summer and winter games are each held every four years. Until 1992, they were both held in the same year. Since then, the summer games are held during the first year of an Olympiad, the winter games during the third year.
The original Olympic Games were first recorded in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece, and were celebrated until AD 393. Interest in reviving the Olympic Games proper was first shown by the Greek poet and newspaper editor Panagiotis Soutsos in his poem “Dialogue of the Dead” in 1833. Evangelos Zappas sponsored the first modern international Olympic Games in 1859. He paid for the refurbishment of the Panathinaiko Stadium for Games held there in 1870 and 1875. This was noted in newspapers and publications around the world including the London Review, which stated that “the Olympian Games, discontinued for centuries, have recently been revived! Here is strange news indeed … the classical games of antiquity were revived near Athens”.
The International Olympic Committee was founded in 1894 on the initiative of a French nobleman, Pierre Frédy, Baron de Coubertin. The first of the IOC’s Olympic Games were the 1896 Summer Olympics, held in Athens, Greece. Participation in the Olympic Games has increased to include athletes from nearly all nations worldwide. With the improvement of satellite communications and global telecasts of the events, the Olympics are consistently gaining supporters. The most recent Summer Olympics were the 2004 Games in Athens and the most recent Winter Olympics were the 2006 Games in Turin. The upcoming games in Beijing are planned to comprise 302 events in 28 sports. As of 2006, the Winter Olympics were competed in 84 events in 7 sports.
The emblem of the Olympic Games is composed of five interlocking rings (blue, yellow, black, green, and red respectively) on a white field. This was originally designed in 1913 by Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. Upon its initial introduction, de Coubertin stated the following in the August, 1913 edition of Revue Olympique:
The emblem chosen to illustrate and represent the world Congress of 1914 …: five intertwined rings in different colours – blue, yellow, black, green, red – are placed on the white field of the paper. These five rings represent the five parts of the world which now are won over to Olympism and willing to accept healthy competition.
OLYMPIC BEIJING 2008
The 2008 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XXIX Olympiad, are an international multi-sport event, that will be held in Beijing, People’s Republic of China from August 8 to August 24, 2008, and followed by the 2008 Summer Paralympics from September 6 to September 17. 10,500 athletes are expected to compete in 302 events in 28 sports, just one event more than was on the schedule of the Athens games of 2004.
The Olympic games were awarded to Beijing after an exhaustive ballot of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on July 13, 2001. The official logo of the games, titled “Dancing Beijing,” features a stylized calligraphic character jīng (京, meaning capital), referencing the host city. The mascots of Beijing 2008 are the five Fuwa, each representing both a color of the Olympic rings and a symbol of Chinese culture. The Olympic slogan, One World, One Dream, calls upon the world to unite in the Olympic spirit. Several new National Olympic Committees (NOCs) have also been recognized by the IOC.
The Chinese government has promoted the games to highlight China’s emergence on the world stage. A total of 37 venues will be used to host the events including 12 newly constructed venues. Earlier in 2007, former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch had said that he believes that the Beijing games will be “the best in Olympic history.”
OLYMPIC BEIJING’S EMBLEM
Dancing Beijing is the name of the official emblem of the 2008 Summer Olympics, to be held in Beijing in the People’s Republic of China. It was unveiled in August 2003 in a ceremony attended by 2,008 people at Beijing’s Temple of Heaven.
The emblem draws on various elements of Chinese culture, depicting a traditional red Chinese seal above the words “Beijing 2008” and the Olympic rings. The seal is inscribed with a stylised calligraphic rendition of the Chinese character 京 (jīng, meaning ‘capital’, from the name of the host city) in the form of a dancing figure. The curves are also claimed to suggest the body of a wriggling Chinese dragon. The open arms of the figure symbolise the invitation of China to the world to share in its culture. The figure also resembles that of a runner crossing the finish line. Red, the dominant colour of the emblem, is an important colour in Chinese society, often signifying good luck.
OLYMPICS BEIJING’S MASCOTS
Like the Five Olympic Rings from which they draw their color and inspiration, Fuwa will serve as the Official Mascots of Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, carrying a message of friendship and peace — and good wishes from China — to children all over the world.
Designed to express the playful qualities of five little children who form an intimate circle of friends, Fuwa also embody the natural characteristics of four of China’s most popular animals — the Fish, the Panda, the Tibetan Antelope, the Swallow — and the Olympic Flame.
Each of Fuwa has a rhyming two-syllable name — a traditional way of expressing affection for children in China. Beibei is the Fish, Jingjing is the Panda, Huanhuan is the Olympic Flame, Yingying is the Tibetan Antelope and Nini is the Swallow.
When you put their names together — Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni — they say “Welcome to Beijing,” offering a warm invitation that reflects the mission of Fuwa as young ambassadors for the Olympic Games.
Fuwa also embody both the landscape and the dreams and aspirations of people from every part of the vast country of China. In their origins and their headpieces, you can see the five elements of nature — the sea, forest, fire, earth and sky — all stylistically rendered in ways that represent the deep traditional influences of Chinese folk art and ornamentation.