Images From The Early Olympic Games

The Olympic Games happen just once every four years, making them a highly anticipated event. Here are some original images from the early Olympic Games.

Athens, 1896

Over 60,000 people attended the opening ceremony of the first modern Summer Olympic Games held in Athens in 1896, a huge amount given that Athens was such a long way to travel.


Athens, 1896

The Olympic Games in 1896 were nowhere near as big as they are today. Only 14 countries participated in the event, unlike the 206 countries involved in the 2016 Olympics!


London, 1908

In the 1900 Olympic Games, women were allowed to compete for the first time in history. By the 1908 games, there were 36 women competing – a huge number at the time!


London, 1908

The Olympics in 1908 saw one of the most memorable sporting moments of our time coming to life – the winner of a race was disqualified as it was believed he had been assisted in his win by the umpires!


London, 1908

The marathon route set out in the 1908 London Olympics began at Windsor Castle and led the runners all the way up to the Royal Box in White City Stadium, where people waited for hours to see who would cross the finish line first.


London, 1908

In typical London fashion, it rained throughout most of the summer Olympics was in 1908. This lead to the track for the cycling events to become flooded, which meant nearly all of the results had to be contested.


Stockholm, 1912

US athlete Jim Thorpe managed to wildly outdo every other athlete he was competing against when he smashed world records for the pentathlon and decathlon.


Berlin, 1936

The Berlin Olympics in 1936 were the first Olympic games ever to be shown on television. They also took place during Hitler’s rise to power, and so he used them for advertising his Nazi propaganda.


Berlin, 1936

A lot of countries wanted to boycott the 1936 Berlin Olympics due to the rise in popularity of Nazi Germany, but the Olympic committee made an agreement – if Hitler didn’t promote Nazism then everyone would happily compete. He agreed but ended up ignoring this rule entirely.


Berlin, 1936

Despite Hitler rising to power during the Berlin Olympics, all eyes were not on him but were instead on African-American athlete Jesse Owens, who was deemed to be the most successful athlete of the games that year.


London, 1948

Due to World War II, there was a 12-year gap in history where no Olympic Games took place. However, when they began again in 1948, they were held in London, and it was a momentous occasion!


London, 1948

While it was a little controversial to hold the games so close to the ending of the war, it didn’t stop over 4,000 athletes showing up to compete!


London, 1948

Had female athletes not been limited to three events in the Olympic Games, Dutch athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen would have won more than the four medals that she did! Her performance in 1948 was exceptional.


Helsinki, 1952

It was at the Helsinki 1952 Olympics that history was made by a Czechoslovakian long distance runner named Emil Zatopek. Somehow, he won himself a gold medal in 3 different running events!


Melbourne, 1956

A moment of compassion was witnessed at the Melbourne Olympic Games. World record holder John Landy stopped in the middle of his race to check up on another contestant who had injured himself. Once he knew he was okay, he carried on running and ended up still winning!


Melbourne, 1956

It was predicted that Australian athlete Arthur Shannos would bring home the gold in the weightlifting category – however, he was beaten miserably and failed to do so!


Rome, 1960

In the Rome Olympic Games of 1960, American athlete Glenn Davis managed to win his 400m race in just 49.3 seconds! He was the first athlete to ever achieve this on more than one occasion!


Rome, 1960

At the Olympic Games in Rome, 1960, one athlete decided to put his own spin on the event he was performing in. Ethiopian athlete Abebe Bikila chose to run his marathon with no shoes on!


Rome, 1960

At 18 years of age, Cassius Clay – now known as Muhammad Ali – fought at the Rome Olympics in 1960 and won himself his first gold medal.


Rome, 1960

Making history for female athletes all over the globe, the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome saw Wilma Rudolph break a world record and become the fastest woman in the world!


Tokyo, 1964

Starting in 1964, gymnast Vera Caslavska won four Olympic medals for her incredible performance. It comes as no surprise that by the end of the 1968 games, she’d won a medal for each gymnastic title in the Olympics.


Mexico City, 1968

Two African-American athletes, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, chose to represent the Black Panthers and raise their black-gloved fists for the first time in public at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. It sparked quite the controversy.


Mexico City, 1968

It was also at the Mexico City Olympic Games that we saw a new move being introduced to the high jump sport, a move that would be named after its creator – the Fosbury Flop!


Munich, 1972

A memorial flag was raised during the 1972 Olympics in Munich to honor members of the Israeli team who had been murdered just days before the Games were due to begin.


Munich, 1972

During the National Anthem at the start of the Olympic Games, two of the American contestants refused to sing along and were booed as they left the arena by the crowds.


Montreal, 1976

World records were demolished at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976 as the world watched New Zealand athlete John Walker became the first person to run a mile in less than 3:50.


Moscow, 1980

The Olympics held in Moscow in the 1980’s were one of the smallest Olympics ever to be held. Sixty countries chose to boycott the event in aid of trying to discourage the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.


Seoul, 1988

For the first time in Olympic Game history, professional athletes were allowed to compete in the Seoul Olympics in 1988. For this reason, it was one of the most competitive years the world had witnessed!