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After Greece was chosen to host the first Olympics at a congress in 1894, the event was organised by the newly-created International Olympic Committee (IOC). The prestigious sporting contest was to take place in Athens from 6 to 15 April 1896.
Most of the events, including athletics and wrestling, were held at the Panathenaic Stadium, which is where the opening ceremony also took place. The ceremony was on Easter Monday on 6 April, with an audience of around 80,000 packed in to the stadium, including Greece’s royal family
Just nine sports were included in the games; the tenth, sailing, was cancelled due to the weather. The others were athletics, wrestling, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, tennis and weightlifting.
Winners of the first prize were given a silver medal, and second place were awarded a copper one, unlike today of course where the top three athletes are given gold, silver and bronze.
The United States came out on top with a total of 11 gold medals, though Greece had the most overall with a total medal tally of 46, followed by the US with 20. The most successful individual athlete was German Carl Schumann, who rather bizarrely competed in both wrestling and gymnastics, winning a total of four events.
No women were allowed to take part in the 1896 Olympics, as organisers felt it would be “impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic and incorrect”. However, one woman named Stamata Revithi, did run the marathon the day after the official race, in a bid to pursuade the Hellenic Olympic Committee to recognise the achievement.
The first ever olympic games were a huge success; it was the first time a sporting event had seen such large-scale participation from athletes from all over the world. Though some prominenet figures in Greece, including King George, desperately wanted to keep the games in Athens, it was already decided that the next event in 1900 would take place in Paris. The Olympics did not actually return to Greece until 108 years later, in the summer of 2004.