The Summer Olympic Games (French: Jeux olympiques d'été)[1] or the Games of the Olympiad, first held in 1896, is an international multi-sport event that is hosted by a different city every four years. The most recent Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) organises the Games and oversees the host city's preparations. In each Olympic event, gold medals are awarded for first place, silver medals are awarded for second place, and bronze medals are awarded for third place; this tradition began in 1904. The Winter Olympic Games were created due to the success of the Summer Olympics.

The Olympics have increased in scope from a 42-event competition with fewer than 250 male competitors from 14 nations in 1896, to 306 events with 11,238 competitors (6,179 men, 5,059 women) from 206 nations in 2016.

The Summer Olympics has been hosted on five continents by a total of nineteen different countries. The United States has hosted the Games four times (in 1904, 1932, 1984 and 1996); this is more times than any other nation. The Games have been held three times in the United Kingdom (in 1908, 1948 and 2012); twice each in Greece (1896, 2004), France (1900, 1924), Germany (1936, 1972) and Australia (1956, 2000); and once each in Sweden (1912), Belgium (1920), Netherlands (1928), Finland (1952), Italy (1960), Japan (1964), Mexico (1968), Canada (1976), Soviet Union (1980), South Korea (1988), Spain (1992), China (2008) and Brazil (2016).

The IOC has selected Tokyo, Japan, to host the Summer Olympics for a second time in 2020. The 2024 Summer Olympics will be held in Paris, France, for a third time, exactly one hundred years after the city's last Summer Olympics in 1924. The IOC has also selected Los Angeles, California to host its third Summer Games in 2028.

To date, only five countries have participated in every Summer Olympic Games – Australia, France, Great Britain, Greece and Switzerland. The United States leads the all-time medal table for the Summer Olympics.


Qualification rules for each of the Olympic sports are set by the International Sports Federation (IF) that governs that sport's international competition.[2]

For individual sports, competitors typically qualify by attaining a certain place in a major international event or on the IF's ranking list. There is a general rule that a maximum of three individual athletes may represent each nation per competition. National Olympic Committees (NOCs) may enter a limited number of qualified competitors in each event, and the NOC decides which qualified competitors to select as representatives in each event if more have attained the benchmark than can be entered.[2][3]

Nations most often qualify teams for team sports through continental qualifying tournaments, in which each continental association is given a certain number of spots in the Olympic tournament. Each nation may be represented by no more than one team per competition; a team consists of just two people in some sports.


The United States has hosted the Summer Olympic Games more times than any other nation. The 1904 Games were held in St. Louis, Missouri, the 1932 and 1984 Games were both held in Los Angeles, California, and the 1996 Games were held in Atlanta, Georgia. The 2028 Games in Los Angeles will mark the fifth occasion on which the Summer Games have been hosted by the U.S.

In 2012, the United Kingdom hosted its third Summer Olympic Games in the capital city, London, which became the first city ever to have hosted the Summer Olympic Games three times. The cities of Los Angeles, Paris, and Athens have each hosted two Summer Olympic Games. In 2024, France will host its third Summer Olympic Games in its capital, making Paris the second city ever to have hosted three Summer Olympics. In 2028, Los Angeles will become the third city ever to have hosted the Games three times.

Australia, France, Germany and Greece have all hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice. The IOC has selected Tokyo, Japan, to host the 2020 Summer Olympics, when it will become the first city outside the Western world to have hosted the Summer Olympics more than once, having already hosted the Games in 1964. The other countries that have hosted the Summer Olympics are Belgium, Brazil, China, Canada, Finland, Italy, Mexico, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, Soviet Union, and Sweden; each of these countries has hosted the Summer Games on just one occasion.

Asia has hosted the Summer Olympics three times, in Tokyo, Japan (1964), Seoul, South Korea (1988), and Beijing, China (2008); Asia will host the Games for a fourth time in 2020 when Tokyo again becomes host city. Historically, the Summer Olympics has been held predominantly in English-speaking countries and European nations.[4] Tokyo will be the first city outside these regions to have hosted the Summer Olympics twice; it will also be the largest city ever to have hosted the Games, having grown considerably since 1964.

The 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, were the first Summer Olympics to be held in South America and the first that were held during the local winter season. The only two countries in the Southern Hemisphere to have hosted the Summer Olympics have been Australia (1956, 2000) and Brazil (2016). Africa has yet to host a Summer Olympics.

Stockholm, Sweden, has hosted events at two Summer Olympic Games, having been sole host of the 1912 Games, and hosting the equestrian events at the 1956 Summer Olympics (which they are credited as jointly hosting with Melbourne, Australia).[5] Amsterdam, Netherlands, has also hosted events at two Summer Olympic Games, having been sole host of the 1928 Games and previously hosting two of the sailing races at the 1920 Summer Olympics. At the 2008 Summer Olympics, Hong Kong provided the venues for the equestrian events, which took place in Sha Tin and Kwu Tung.


Early years

The opening ceremony of the first modern Olympic Games in the Panathenaic Stadium

The modern Olympic Games were founded in 1894 when Pierre de Coubertin sought to promote international understanding through sporting competition. He based his Olympics on the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games, which had been contested in Much Wenlock since 1850.[6] The first edition of de Coubertin's games, held in Athens in 1896, attracted just 245 competitors, of whom more than 200 were Greek, and only 14 countries were represented. Nevertheless, no international events of this magnitude had been organised before. Female athletes were not allowed to compete, though one woman, Stamata Revithi, ran the marathon course on her own, saying "[i]f the committee doesn't let me compete I will go after them regardless".[7]

The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the Olympiad, was an international multi-sport event which was celebrated in Athens, Greece, from 6 to 15 April 1896. It was the first Olympic Games held in the Modern era. About 100,000 people attended for the opening of the games. The athletes came from 14 different nations, with most coming from Greece. Although Greece had the most athletes, the U.S. finished with the most champions. 11 Americans placed first in their events vs. the 10 from Greece.[8] Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, consequently Athens was perceived to be an appropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games. It was unanimously chosen as the host city during a congress organised by Pierre de Coubertin, a French pedagogue and historian, in Paris, on 23 June 1894. The IOC was also established during this congress.

Despite many obstacles and setbacks, the 1896 Olympics were regarded as a great success. The Games had the largest international participation of any sporting event to that date. Panathinaiko Stadium, the first big stadium in the modern world, overflowed with the largest crowd ever to watch a sporting event.[9] The highlight for the Greeks was the marathon victory by their compatriot Spiridon Louis, a water carrier. He won in 2 hours 58 minutes and 50 seconds, setting off wild celebrations at the stadium. The most successful competitor was German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann, who won four gold medals.

After the Games, de Coubertin and the IOC were petitioned by several prominent figures including Greece's King George and some of the American competitors in Athens, to hold all the following Games in Athens. However, the 1900 Summer Olympics were already planned for Paris and, except for the 1906 Intercalated Games, the Olympics did not return to Greece until the 2004 Summer Olympics.

Four years later the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris attracted more than four times as many athletes, including 20 women, who were allowed to officially compete for the first time, in croquet, golf, sailing, and tennis. The Games were integrated with the Paris World's Fair and lasted over 5 months. It is still disputed which events exactly were Olympic, since few or maybe even none of the events were advertised as such at the time.

Dorando Pietri finishes the modern marathon at the current distance

Numbers declined for the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, due in part to the lengthy transatlantic boat trip required of the European competitors, and the integration with the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World's Fair, which again spread the event out over an extended period. In contrast with Paris 1900, the word Olympic was used for practically every contest, including those exclusively for school boys or for Irish-Americans.

A series of smaller games were held in Athens in 1906. The IOC does not currently recognise these games as being official Olympic Games, although many historians do. The 1906 Athens games were the first of an alternating series of games to be held in Athens, but the series failed to materialise. The games were more successful than the 1900 and 1904 games, with over 900 athletes competing, and contributed positively to the success of future games.

The 1908 London Games saw numbers rise again, as well as the first running of the marathon over its now-standard distance of 42.195 km (26 miles 385 yards). The first Olympic Marathon in 1896 (a male-only race) was raced at a distance of 40 km (24 miles 85 yards). The new marathon distance was chosen to ensure that the race finished in front of the box occupied by the British royal family. Thus the marathon had been 40 km (24.9 mi) for the first games in 1896, but was subsequently varied by up to 2 km (1.2 mi) due to local conditions such as street and stadium layout. At the six Olympic games between 1900 and 1920, the marathon was raced over six different distances.

At the end of the 1908 marathon the Italian runner Dorando Pietri was first to enter the stadium, but he was clearly in distress, and collapsed of exhaustion before he could complete the event. He was helped over the finish line by concerned race officials, but later he was disqualified and the gold medal was awarded to John Hayes, who had trailed him by around 30 seconds.

The Games continued to grow, attracting 2,504 competitors, to Stockholm in 1912, including the great all-rounder Jim Thorpe, who won both the decathlon and pentathlon. Thorpe had previously played a few games of baseball for a fee, and saw his medals stripped for this breach of amateurism after complaints from Avery Brundage. They were reinstated in 1983, 30 years after his death. The Games at Stockholm were the first to fulfill Pierre de Coubertin's original idea. For the first time since the Games started in 1896 were all five inhabited continents represented with athletes competing in the same stadium.

The scheduled 1916 Summer Olympics were cancelled following the onset of World War I.

Interwar era

The 1920 Antwerp games in war-ravaged Belgium were a subdued affair, but again drew a record number of competitors. This record only stood until 1924, when the Paris Games involved 3,000 competitors, the greatest of whom was Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi. The "Flying Finn" won three team gold medals and the individual 1,500 and 5,000 meter runs, the latter two on the same day.

The 1928 Amsterdam games were notable for being the first games which allowed females to compete at track & field athletics, and benefited greatly from the general prosperity of the times alongside the first appearance of sponsorship of the games, from the Coca-Cola Company. The 1928 games saw the introduction of a standard medal design with the IOC choosing Giuseppe Cassioli's depiction of Greek goddess Nike and a winner being carried by a crowd of people. This design was used up until 1972.

The 1932 Los Angeles games were affected by the Great Depression, which contributed to the low number of competitors (the fewest since the St. Louis games).

The 1936 Berlin Games were seen by the German government as a golden opportunity to promote their ideology. The ruling Nazi Party commissioned film-maker Leni Riefenstahl to film the games. The result, Olympia, was widely considered to be a masterpiece, despite Hitler's theories of Aryan racial superiority being repeatedly shown up by "non-Aryan" athletes. In particular, African-American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens won four gold medals. The 1936 Berlin Games also saw the reintroduction of the Torch Relay.[10]

Due to World War II, the Games of 1940 (due to be held in Tokyo and temporarily relocated to Helsinki upon the outbreak of war) were cancelled. The Games of 1944 were due to be held in London but were also cancelled; instead, London hosted the first games after the end of the war, in 1948.

After World War II

The first post-war Games were held in 1948 in London, with both Germany and Japan excluded. Dutch sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen won four gold medals on the track, emulating Owens' achievement in Berlin.

At the 1952 Games in Helsinki the USSR team competed for the first time and immediately became one of the dominant teams (finishing second both in the number of gold and overall medals won). Soviet immediate success might be explained by the advent of the state-sponsored "full-time amateur athlete". The USSR entered teams of athletes who were all nominally students, soldiers, or working in a profession, but many of whom were in reality paid by the state to train on a full-time basis, hence violating amateur rules.[11][12] Finland made a legend of an amiable Czechoslovak army lieutenant named Emil Zátopek, who was intent on improving on his single gold and silver medals from 1948. Having first won both the 10,000 and 5,000 meter races, he also entered the marathon, despite having never previously raced at that distance. Pacing himself by chatting with the other leaders, Zátopek led from about half way, slowly dropping the remaining contenders to win by two and a half minutes, and completed a trio of wins.

The 1956 Melbourne Games were largely successful, barring a water polo match between Hungary and the Soviet Union, which the Soviet invasion of Hungary caused to end as a pitched battle between the teams. Due to a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Britain at the time and the strict quarantine laws of Australia, the equestrian events were held in Stockholm.

At the 1960 Rome Games a young light-heavyweight boxer named Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, arrived on the scene. Ali would later throw his gold medal away in disgust after being refused service in a whites-only restaurant in his home town of Louisville, Kentucky.[13] He was awarded a new medal 36 years later at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Other performers of note in 1960 included Wilma Rudolph, a gold medallist in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4 × 100 meters relay events.

The 1964 Games held in Tokyo are notable for heralding the modern age of telecommunications. These games were the first to be broadcast worldwide on television, enabled by the recent advent of communication satellites. The 1964 Games were thus a turning point in the global visibility and popularity of the Olympics. Judo debuted as an official sport, and Dutch judoka Anton Geesink created quite a stir when he won the final of the open weight division, defeating Akio Kaminaga in front of his home crowd.

Performances at the 1968 Mexico City games were affected by the altitude of the host city,[14] specifically the long jump, in which American athlete Bob Beamon jumped 8.90 meters. Beamon's world record would stand for 23 years. The 1968 Games also introduced the now-universal Fosbury flop, a technique which won American high jumper Dick Fosbury the gold medal. Politics took center stage in the medal ceremony for the men's 200 meter dash, where Tommie Smith and John Carlos made a protest gesture on the podium against the segregation in the United States; their political act was condemned within the Olympic Movement, but was praised in the Black Power movement. Věra Čáslavská, in protest to the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia and the controversial decision by the judges on the Balance Beam and Floor, turned her head down and away from the Soviet flag whilst the anthem played during the medal ceremony. She returned home as a heroine of the Czechoslovak people, but was made an outcast by the Soviet dominated government.

Politics again intervened at Munich in 1972, with lethal consequences. A Palestinian terrorist group named Black September invaded the Olympic village and broke into the apartment of the Israeli delegation. They killed two Israelis and held 9 others as hostages. The terrorists demanded that Israel release numerous prisoners. When the Israeli government refused their demand, a tense stand-off ensued while negotiations continued. Eventually the captors, still holding their hostages, were offered safe passage and taken to an airport, where they were ambushed by German security forces. In the firefight that followed, 15 people, including the nine Israeli athletes and five of the terrorists, were killed. After much debate, it was decided that the Games would continue, but proceedings were obviously dominated by these events.[15] Some memorable athletic achievements did occur during these Games, notably the winning of a then-record seven gold medals by United States swimmer Mark Spitz, Lasse Virén (of Finland)'s back-to-back gold in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters (defeating American distance running great Steve Prefontaine in the former), and the winning of three gold medals by 16-year-old Soviet gymnastic sensation Olga Korbut - who thrilled the world with an historic backflip off the high bar. Korbut, however, failed to win the all-around, losing to her teammate Ludmilla Tourischeva.

There was no such tragedy in Montreal in 1976, but bad planning and fraud led to the Games' cost far exceeding the budget. The Montreal Games were the most expensive in Olympic history, until the 2014 Winter Olympics, costing over $5 billion (equivalent to $20.64 billion in 2016). For a time, it seemed that the Olympics might no longer be a viable financial proposition. In retrospect, the belief that contractors (suspected of being members of the Montreal Mafia) skimmed large sums of money from all levels of contracts while also profiting from the substitution of cheaper building materials of lesser quality, may have contributed to the delays, poor construction and excessive costs. In 1988, one such contractor, Giuseppe Zappia "was cleared of fraud charges that resulted from his work on Olympic facilities after two key witnesses died before testifying at his trial."[16] There was also a boycott by African nations to protest against a recent tour of apartheid-run South Africa by the New Zealand national rugby union team. The Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci won the women's individual all-around gold medal with two of four possible perfect scores, this giving birth to a gymnastics dynasty in Romania. She also won two other individual events, with two perfect scores in the balance beam and all perfect scores in the uneven bars. Lasse Virén repeated his double gold in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, making him the first athlete to ever win the distance double twice.

End of the 20th century

Following the Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan, 66 nations, including the United States, Canada, West Germany, and Japan, boycotted the 1980 games held in Moscow. Eighty nations were represented at the Moscow Games – the smallest number since 1956. The boycott contributed to the 1980 Games being a less publicised and less competitive affair, which was dominated by the host country.

In 1984 the Soviet Union and 13 Soviet allies reciprocated by boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Romania, notably, was one of the nations in the Eastern Bloc that did attend the 1984 Olympics. These games were perhaps the first games of a new era to make a profit. Although a boycott led by the Soviet Union depleted the field in certain sports, 140 National Olympic Committees took part, which was a record at the time.[17] Again, without the participation of the Eastern European countries, the 1984 Games were dominated by their host country. The Games were also the first time mainland China (People's Republic) participated.

According to British journalist Andrew Jennings, a KGB colonel stated that the agency's officers had posed as anti-doping authorities from the IOC to undermine doping tests and that Soviet athletes were "rescued with [these] tremendous efforts".[18] On the topic of the 1980 Summer Olympics, a 1989 Australian study said "There is hardly a medal winner at the Moscow Games, certainly not a gold medal winner, who is not on one sort of drug or another: usually several kinds. The Moscow Games might as well have been called the Chemists' Games."[18]

Documents obtained in 2016 revealed the Soviet Union's plans for a statewide doping system in track and field in preparation for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. Dated prior to the country's decision to boycott the Games, the document detailed the existing steroids operations of the program, along with suggestions for further enhancements.[19] The communication, directed to the Soviet Union's head of track and field, was prepared by Dr. Sergei Portugalov of the Institute for Physical Culture. Portugalov was also one of the main figures involved in the implementation of the Russian doping program prior to the 2016 Summer Olympics.[19]

The 1988 games, in Seoul, were very well planned but the games were tainted when many of the athletes, most notably men's 100 metres winner Ben Johnson, failed mandatory drug tests. Despite splendid drug-free performances by many individuals, the number of people who failed screenings for performance-enhancing chemicals overshadowed the games.

The 1992 Barcelona Games featured increased professionalism among Olympic athletes, exemplified by US basketball's "Dream Team". The 1992 games also saw the reintroduction to the Games of several smaller European states which had been incorporated into the Soviet Union since World War II. These games also saw gymnast Vitaly Scherbo equal the record for most individual gold medals at a single Games set by Eric Heiden in the 1980 Winter Games, with five.

By then the process of choosing a location for the Games had itself become a commercial concern; there were widespread allegations of corruption potentially affecting the IOC's decision process. In the Atlanta games in 1996, the highlight was 200 meters runner Michael Johnson annihilating the world record in front of a home crowd. Canadians savored Donovan Bailey's recording gold medal run in the 100-meter dash. This was popularly felt to be an appropriate recompense for the previous national disgrace involving Ben Johnson. There were also emotional scenes, such as when Muhammad Ali, clearly affected by Parkinson's disease, lit the Olympic torch and received a replacement medal for the one he had discarded in 1960. The latter event took place not at the boxing ring but in the basketball arena, at the demand of US television. The atmosphere at the Games was marred, however, when a bomb exploded during the celebration in Centennial Olympic Park. In June 2003, the principal suspect in this bombing, Eric Robert Rudolph, was arrested.

The 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney, Australia, known as the "Games of the New Millennium".

III millennium

The 2000 Summer Olympics were held in Sydney, Australia, and showcased individual performances by local favorite Ian Thorpe in the pool, Briton Steve Redgrave who won a rowing gold medal in an unprecedented fifth consecutive Olympics, and Cathy Freeman, an Indigenous Australian whose triumph in the 400 meters united a packed stadium. Eric "the Eel" Moussambani, a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, received wide media coverage when he completed the 100 meter freestyle swim in by far the slowest time in Olympic history. He nevertheless won the heat as both his opponents had been disqualified for false starts. His female compatriot Paula Barila Bolopa also received media attention for her record-slow and struggling but courageous performance. The Sydney Games also saw the first appearance of a joint North and South Korean contingent at the opening ceremonies, though they competed as different countries. Controversy occurred in the Women's Artistic Gymnastics, when the vaulting horse was set to the wrong height during the All Around Competition. Several athletes faltered, including Russian Svetlana Khorkina, who had been favored to win gold after qualifying for the competition in first place.

In 2004 the Games returned to their birthplace in Athens, Greece. Greece spent at least $7.2 billion on the Games, including $1.5 billion on security. Michael Phelps won his first medals in Olympic Games tallying 6 gold and 2 bronze medals. Pyrros Dimas, winning a bronze medal, became the most decorated weightlifter of all time with 3 golds and 1 bronze in Olympic Games. Although unfounded reports of potential terrorism drove crowds away from the preliminary competitions of the first weekend of the games (14–15 August), attendance picked up as the games progressed. A third of the tickets failed to sell,[20] but ticket sales still topped figures from Seoul and Barcelona Olympics.[citation needed] IOC President Jacques Rogge characterised Greece's organisation as outstanding and its security precautions as flawless.[21] The Athens Games witnessed all 202 NOCs participate with over 11,000 participants.

The 2008 Summer Olympics were held in Beijing, People's Republic of China. Several new events were held, including the new discipline of BMX for both men and women. For the first time, women competed in the steeplechase. The fencing program was expanded to include all six events for both men and women. Women had not previously been able to compete in team foil or saber events, although women's team épée and men's team foil were dropped for these Games. Marathon swimming events, over the distance of 10 km (6.2 mi), were added. In addition, the doubles events in table tennis were replaced by team events.[22] American swimmer Michael Phelps set a record for gold medals at a single Games with eight, and tied the record of most gold medals by a single competitor previously held by both Heiden and Scherbo. Another major star of the Games was Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who became the first male athlete ever to set world records in the finals of both the 100 and 200 metres in the same Games. Equestrian events were held in Hong Kong.

London held the 2012 Summer Olympics, becoming the first city to host the Games three times. In his closing address Jacques Rogge described the Games as "Happy and Glorious". The host nation won 29 gold medals, the best haul for Great Britain since the 1908 Games in London. The United States returned to the top of the medal table after China dominated in 2008. The IOC had removed baseball and softball from the 2012 program. On a commercial level the Games were successful as they were the first in history to completely sell out every ticket, with as many as 1 million applications for 40,000 tickets for both the Opening Ceremony and the 100m Men's Sprint Final. Such was the demand for tickets to all levels of each event, there was controversy when seats set aside for sponsors and National Delegations went unused in the early days. A system of reallocation was put in place so the empty seats were filled throughout the Games.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil hosted the 2016 Summer Olympics, becoming the third city in the Southern Hemisphere to host the Olympic Games after Melbourne, Australia, in 1956 and Sydney, Australia, in 2000, and the first South American city to host the Olympics. The preparation for these Games was overshadowed by controversies, including the instability of Brazil's federal government; the country's economic crisis; health and safety concerns surrounding the Zika virus and significant pollution in the Guanabara Bay; and a state-sponsored doping scandal involving Russia, which affected the participation of its athletes in the Games.[23] Tokyo, Japan will host the 2020 Summer Olympics, making it the first Asian city to host the Olympic Games twice.

Ten most successful nations

The table below uses official data provided by the IOC.[24]

   Defunct nation
No. Nation Games Gold Silver Bronze Total
1  United States (USA) 27 1022 795 705 2522
2  Soviet Union (URS) 9 395 319 296 1010
3  Great Britain (GBR) 28 263 295 289 847
4  China (CHN) 10 224 164 153 541
5  France (FRA) 28 212 241 261 714
6  Italy (ITA) 27 206 178 193 577
7  Germany (GER) 16 191 192 232 615
8  Hungary (HUN) 26 175 147 169 491
9  East Germany (GDR) 5 153 129 127 409
10  Russia (RUS) 6 149 124 153 426

List of Olympic sports

Forty-two different sports, spanning 55 different disciplines, have been part of the Olympic program at one point or another. Twenty-eight sports have comprised the schedule for three of the recent games, 2000, 2004, and 2008 Summer Olympics. Due to the removal of baseball and softball, there was a total of twenty-six sports in the 2012 Games.[25]

The various Olympic Sports federations are grouped under a common umbrella association, called the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations (ASOIF).

Sport Years
Archery 1900–1908, 1920, since 1972
Athletics All
Badminton Since 1992
Baseball 1992–2008, 2020
Basketball Since 1936
Basque pelota 1900
Boxing 1904, 1908, since 1920
Canoeing and kayaking Since 1936
Cricket 1900
Sport climbing 2020
Croquet 1900
Cycling All
Diving Since 1904
Equestrian 1900, since 1912
Fencing All
Field hockey 1908, 1920, since 1928
Football 1900–1928, since 1936
Golf 1900, 1904, since 2016
Gymnastics All
Handball 1936, since 1972
Jeu de paume 1908
Judo 1964, since 1972
Karate 2020
Lacrosse 1904, 1908
Modern pentathlon Since 1912
Sport Years
Polo 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924, 1936
Rackets 1908
Rhythmic gymnastics Since 1984
Roque 1904
Rowing Since 1900
Rugby union 1900, 1908, 1920, 1924
Rugby sevens Since 2016
Sailing 1900, since 1908
Shooting 1896, 1900, 1908–1924, since 1932
Skateboarding 2020
Softball 1996–2008, 2020
Surfing 2020
Swimming All
Synchronised Swimming Since 1984
Table tennis Since 1988
Taekwondo Since 2000
Tennis 1896–1924, since 1988
Trampoline Since 2000
Triathlon Since 2000
Tug of war 1900–1920
Volleyball Since 1964
Water motorsports 1908
Water Polo Since 1900
Weightlifting 1896, 1904, since 1920
Wrestling 1896, since 1904

Popularity of Olympic sports

Summer Olympic sports are divided into five categories (A – E) based on popularity, gauged by six categories: television viewing figures (40%), Internet popularity (20%), public surveys (15%), ticket requests (10%), press coverage (10%), and number of national federations (5%). The category determines the share the sport's International Federation receives of Olympic revenue.[26][27] Sports that were new to the 2016 Olympics (rugby and golf) have been placed in Category E.

The current categories are:

Cat. No. Sport
A 3 athletics, aquatics, gymnastics
B 5 basketball, cycling, football, tennis, and volleyball
C 8 archery, badminton, boxing, judo, rowing, shooting, table tennis, and weightlifting
D 9 canoe/kayaking, equestrian, fencing, handball, field hockey, sailing, taekwondo, triathlon, and wrestling
E 3 modern pentathlon, golf, and rugby

List of Summer Olympic Games

Olympiad Year Host Dates Nations Competitors Sports Disciplines Events Top nation Ref
Total Men Women
I 1896 Greece Athens, Greece 6–15 April 14 241 241 0 9 10 43  United States (USA) [1]
II 1900 France Paris, France 14 May – 28 October 24 997 975 22 19 20 85[A]  France (FRA) [2]
III 1904 United States St. Louis, United States 1 July – 23 November 12 651 645 6 16 17 94[B]  United States (USA) [3]
IV 1908 United Kingdom London, United Kingdom 27 April – 31 October 22 2008 1971 37 22 25 110  Great Britain (GBR) [4]
V 1912 Sweden Stockholm, Sweden 6–22 July 28 2407 2359 48 14 18 102  United States (USA) [5]
VI 1916 Awarded to Berlin, cancelled due to World War I
VII 1920 Belgium Antwerp, Belgium 14 August – 12 September 29 2626 2561 65 22 29 156[C]  United States (USA) [6]
VIII 1924 France Paris, France 4 May – 27 July 44 3089 2954 135 17 23 126  United States (USA) [7]
IX 1928 Netherlands Amsterdam, Netherlands 28 July – 12 August 46 2883 2606 277 14 20 109  United States (USA) [8]
X 1932 United States Los Angeles, United States 30 July – 14 August 37 1332 1206 126 14 20 117  United States (USA) [9]
XI 1936 Germany Berlin, Germany 1–16 August 49 3963 3632 331 19 25 129  Germany (GER) [10]
XII 1940 Originally awarded to Tokyo, then awarded to Helsinki, cancelled due to World War II
XIII 1944 Awarded to London, cancelled due to World War II
XIV 1948 United Kingdom London, United Kingdom 29 July – 14 August 59 4104 3714 390 17 23 136  United States (USA) [11]
XV 1952 Finland Helsinki, Finland 19 July – 3 August 69 4955 4436 519 17 23 149  United States (USA) [12]
XVI 1956 Australia Melbourne, Australia 22 November – 8 December 72[D] 3314 2938 376 17 23 151[E]  Soviet Union (URS) [13]
XVII 1960 Italy Rome, Italy 25 August – 11 September 83 5338 4727 611 17 23 150  Soviet Union (URS) [14]
XVIII 1964 Japan Tokyo, Japan 10–24 October 93 5151 4473 678 19 25 163  United States (USA) [15]
XIX 1968 Mexico Mexico City, Mexico 12–27 October 112 5516 4735 781 18 24 172  United States (USA) [16]
XX 1972 West Germany Munich, West Germany 26 August – 10 September 121 7134 6075 1059 21 28 195  Soviet Union (URS) [17]
XXI 1976 Canada Montreal, Canada 17 July – 1 August 92 6084 4824 1260 21 27 198  Soviet Union (URS) [18]
XXII 1980 Soviet Union Moscow, Soviet Union 19 July – 3 August 80 5179 4064 1115 21 27 203  Soviet Union (URS) [19]
XXIII 1984 United States Los Angeles, United States 28 July – 12 August 140 6829 5263 1566 21 29 221  United States (USA) [20]
XXIV 1988 South Korea Seoul, South Korea 17 September – 2 October 159 8391 6197 2194 23 31 237  Soviet Union (URS) [21]
XXV 1992 Spain Barcelona, Spain 25 July – 9 August 169 9356 6652 2704 25 34 257  Unified Team (EUN) [22]
XXVI 1996 United States Atlanta, United States 19 July – 4 August 197 10318 6806 3512 26 37 271  United States (USA) [23]
XXVII 2000 Australia Sydney, Australia 15 September – 1 October 199 10651 6582 4069 28 40 300  United States (USA) [24]
XXVIII 2004 Greece Athens, Greece 13–29 August 201 10625 6296 4329 28 40 301  United States (USA) [25]
XXIX 2008 China Beijing, China 8–24 August 204 10942 6305 4637 28 41 302  China (CHN) [26]
XXX 2012 United Kingdom London, United Kingdom 27 July – 12 August 204 10768 5992 4776 26 39 302  United States (USA) [27]
XXXI 2016 Brazil Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 5–21 August 207 11238 6179 5059 28 41 306  United States (USA) [28]
XXXII 2020 Japan Tokyo, Japan 24 July – 9 August Future event 33 47 324
XXXIII 2024 France Paris, France[37] 26 July – 11 August Future event
XXXIV 2028 United States Los Angeles, United States[37] 21 July – 6 August Future event
  1. ^ The IOC database for the 1900 Olympics[28] lists 85 events, while the IOC site for the 1900 Olympics[29] gives an erroneous figure of 95. The discrepancy may be a consequence of the latter figure being derived from the Bill Mallon publication,[30] which uses a subjective determination of which sports and events should be considered as Olympic.
  2. ^ The IOC database for the 1904 Olympics[31] lists 94 events, while the IOC site for the 1904 Olympics[32] gives an erroneous figure of 91. The discrepancy may be a consequence of the latter figure being derived from the Bill Mallon publication,[33] which uses a subjective determination of which sports and events should be considered as Olympic.
  3. ^ The IOC database for the 1920 Olympics[34] lists 156 events, while the IOC site for the 1920 Olympics[35] gives an erroneous figure of 154.
  4. ^ Owing to Australian quarantine laws, six of the equestrian events of the 1956 Olympics took place in Stockholm several months before the Games were held in Melbourne. Five of the 72 nations that competed in the equestrian events in Stockholm did not attend the main Olympics in Melbourne.
  5. ^ The IOC site for the 1956 Olympics[36] gives a total figure of 151 events (six equestrian events in Stockholm and 145 further events in Melbourne).

Note: Although the Games of 1916, 1940, and 1944 were cancelled, the Roman numerals for those Games still count because the official titles of the Summer Games refer to the Olympiad, rather than the number of Games, per the Olympic Charter. This contrasts with the Winter Olympic Games, which ignore the cancelled Winter Games of 1940 & 1944 in their numeric count.

See also


  1. ^ "Even in London, French is mandatory at the Olympics". Embassy of France, Washington, D.C. August 8, 2012. Retrieved April 1, 2018. 
  2. ^ a b "Olympians". Olympic.org. IOC. Archived from the original on 16 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010. 
  3. ^ "National Olympic Committees (NOCs)". Olympic.org. IOC. Archived from the original on 15 June 2010. Retrieved 21 June 2010. dead-url=yes}}
  4. ^ Schaffer, Kay (2000). The Olympics at the Millennium: Power, Politics, and the Games. p. 271. 
  5. ^ "Melbourne / Stockholm 1956". IOC. Retrieved 5 September 2008. 
  6. ^ Jeffrey, Ben. "Father of the modern Olympics". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 6 May 2006. 
  7. ^ Tarasouleas, Athanasios (Summer 1993). "The Female Spiridon Loues" (PDF). Citius, Altius, Fortius. 1 (3): 11–12. 
  8. ^ Macy, Sue (2004). Swifter, Higher, Stronger. Washington D.C, United States: National Geographic. p. 16. ISBN 0-7922-6667-6. 
  9. ^ Young (1996), 153
  10. ^ "The Olympic torch's shadowy past". BBC. 5 April 2008. Retrieved 4 August 2008. 
  11. ^ Benjamin, Daniel (1992-07-27). "Traditions Pro Vs. Amateur". Time. Retrieved 2009-03-18. 
  12. ^ Schantz, Otto. "The Olympic Ideal and the Winter Games Attitudes Towards the Olympic Winter Games in Olympic Discourses—from Coubertin to Samaranch" (PDF). Comité International Pierre De Coubertin. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 5, 2013. Retrieved September 13, 2008. 
  13. ^ Wallechinsky, David; Jamie Loucky (2008). The Complete Book of the Olympics, 2008 Edition. Aurum Press. pp. 453–454. ISBN 978-1-84513-330-6. 
  14. ^ "Games of the XIX Olympiad". olympic.org. International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 6 May 2006. 
  15. ^ "Games of the XX Olympiad". olympic.org. International Olympic Committee. Retrieved 6 May 2006. 
  16. ^ Schneider, Stephen;(April 2009).Ice: The Story of Organized Crime in Canada. p.551. ISBN 0-470-83500-1:
  17. ^ "NO BOYCOTT BLUES". olympic.org. Retrieved 2017-01-06. 
  18. ^ a b Hunt, Thomas M. (2011). Drug Games: The International Olympic Committee and the Politics of Doping. University of Texas Press. p. 66. ISBN 0292739575. 
  19. ^ a b Ruiz, Rebecca R. (13 August 2016). "The Soviet Doping Plan: Document Reveals Illicit Approach to '84 Olympics". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-09-03. 
  20. ^ "Tickets to Olympic events in Beijing sold out". USA Today. 28 July 2008. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  21. ^ "Rogge hails Athens success". BBC. 29 August 2004. Retrieved 19 August 2016. 
  22. ^ "Beijing 2008: Games program Finalized". International Olympic Committee. 27 April 2006. Retrieved 10 May 2006. 
  23. ^ "BBC SPORT, Olympics, Rio to stage 2016 Olympic Games". BBC News. 2 October 2009. Retrieved 28 July 2012. 
  24. ^ "RESULTS". olympic.org. Retrieved November 13, 2017. 
  25. ^ "Fewer sports for London Olympics". BBC Sport. British Broadcasting Corporation. 8 July 2005. Retrieved 5 May 2006. 
  26. ^ "Athletics to share limelight as one of top Olympic sports". The Queensland Times. 2013-05-31. Retrieved 2013-07-18. 
  27. ^ "Winners Include Gymnastics, Swimming - and Wrestling - as IOC Announces New Funding Distribution Groupings". The Association of Summer Olympic International Federations. Retrieved 2013-07-18. 
  28. ^ "IOC database for the 1900 Olympic Games". Olympic.org. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  29. ^ "IOC site for the 1900 Olympic Games". Olympic.org. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  30. ^ "1900 Olympic Games—Analysis and Summaries" (PDF). Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  31. ^ "IOC database for the 1904 Olympic Games". Olympic.org. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  32. ^ "IOC site for the 1904 Olympic Games". Olympic.org. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  33. ^ "1904 Olympic Games—Analysis and Summaries" (PDF). Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  34. ^ "IOC database for the 1920 Olympic Games". Olympic.org. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  35. ^ "IOC site for the 1920 Olympic Games". Olympic.org. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  36. ^ "IOC site for the 1956 Olympic Games". Olympic.org. 22 November 1956. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  37. ^ a b "IOC makes historic decision in agreeing to award 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games at the same time". 11 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2017. 

External links