About the Olympics
The Olympic Games are a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of disciplines/competitions.
Athens Olympic Stadium, Greece
The Olympic Games differ from most other sporting events as they are held every four years and have a truly global appeal.
The Summer Games and Winter Games are the largest sporting celebrations in terms of number of sports included in the programme, the number of athletes present and the number of people from different nations gathered together at the same time in the same place.
The Olympic flag fully reflects the international nature of the Games with the five interlocking rings on a white cotton field. Each ring stands for one of the five continents.
The six colours on the flag (the white background and the blue, yellow, black, green and red rings are symbolic because at least one of them can be found on all the national flags of the world.
The Olympic Games are part of the broader framework that is the Olympic Movement, which sets out three principles: 1. Link sport with culture and education 2. Promote the practice of sport and the joy found in effort 3. Help build a better world through sport practised in a spirit of peace, excellence, friendship and respect.
Originally, the ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia, Greece from the eighth century BC until the fourth century AD.
In the late 19th century, Pierre de Coubertin of France drew inspiration from the ancient Olympic Games to create the Modern Olympic Games.
He dreamt up an ambitious project which would see Summer Games and Winter Games.
With this purpose firmly in mind, he created the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894 in Paris. The new committee set itself the objective of organising the first Olympic Games of modern times and accomplished it when the Games of the I Olympiad were held under the auspices of the IOC were held in Athens in 1896.
The Olympics have evolved greatly since then with the addition of the Winter Games, the Paralympic Games and the Youth Olympic Games.
London, 2012 Olympic city
On 6 June 2005 at the 107th IOC session in Singapore, London was awarded the hosting of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, beating Moscow, New York, Madrid and then Paris in the final.
Confetti and ticker tape rain down as London celebrates
its triumphant 2012 bid result. Photograph: David Levene/PA
For the third time since the modern Games began in 1896 (1908, 1948 and now 2012), London will welcome athletes from far and wide for the world’s biggest sporting event.
The hub for all Olympic activity is the Olympic Park, situated in Stratford and the Lower Lea Valley in northeast London.
The Park will include the Olympic Stadium, the centrepiece of the Games, which will host athletics as well as the opening and closing ceremonies; the Olympic village, which will accommodate all athletes and team officials; the Olympic Press and Broadcast Centres, the Basketball Arena as well as the venues for several other sports (aquatics, cycling, handball and field hockey).
A large number of venues are situated outside the Olympic Zone, including some landmark locations such as Hyde Park, Wimbledon, the North Greenwich Arena (formerly known as the Millennium Dome), Lords Cricket Ground, the Mall (Buckingham Palace’s ‘driveway’) and Wembley Stadium.
The opening ceremony takes place on 27 July 2012, with 302 events in 26 sports set to take place by the time the games officially drawto a close on 12 August 2012.