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Editorial Articles

Issue no 15, 10-16 July 2021

Olympic Games: Past and Present


The 2020 Summer Olympics, officially the Games of the XXXII Olympiad, are scheduled to be held from July 23-August 8, 2021 in Japan's Tokyo. Originally scheduled to take place in 2020, the Games were postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 Games will mark the second time that Japan has hosted the Summer Olympic Games, the first being also in Tokyo in 1964, making this the first city in Asia to host the Summer Games twice. The mascot for the Tokyo Games is named Miraitowa. Japanese words "mirai" mean "future" and "towa" mean "eternity", representing "the wish that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will lead to a future of everlasting hope in the hearts of everyone around the world."

What are Olympics?

The Olympic Games is a quadrennial (held every four years) international multisport event celebrated as a global sports festival by people all over the world. The Games are the largest sporting celebration in the number of sports on 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 roots of today's Games date back to the ancient Olympic Games, held over 2,000 years ago. Also known as the "Olympiad", the event took place in the Olympia region of ancient Greece. It is believed that the event was an athletic and artistic festival dedicated to the worship of the gods. However, the ancient Olympic Games were hindered by numerous conflicts and finally came to an end in 393 AD. Fifteen hundred years later in 1892, a French educator named Baron Pierre de Coubertin began the Olympic revival movement. De Coubertin's idea to reinstate the Olympic Games was presented to the audience at the international congress in Paris, 1894 and his proposal was unanimously approved. Two years later the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens, Greece, the homeland of the ancient Olympic Games. The date of the first Games, 1896, marked the beginning of an extraordinary adventure that has now lasted for over a century. De Coubertin is thus revered as the "Father of the Olympics".


What do the five rings of the Games signify?

The well-known five rings symbol of the Olympic Games were also created by Baron de Coubertin, to express the solidarity of the world's five continents. According to the Olympic Charter, "the Olympic symbol consists of five interlaced rings of equal dimensions (the Olympic rings), used alone, in one or in five different colours. When used in its five-colour version, these colours shall be, from left to right, blue, yellow, black, green and red. The rings are interlaced from left to right; the blue, black and red rings are situated at the top, the yellow and green rings at the bottom." The Charter says "the Olympic symbol expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games." The symbol has gone through several changes over the years. Today, there are seven official versions of the Olympic rings. The full-colour version on its white background is the preferred version.


What is International Olympic Committee?

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the guardian of the Olympic Games and the leader of the Olympic Movement. Established on June 23, 1894, the IOC is a not-for-profit independent international organisation. Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Olympic Capital, it is entirely privately funded and distributes 90 per cent of its revenues to the wider sporting movement, for the development of sport and athletes at all levels. The organisation acts as a catalyst for collaboration between all Olympic stakeholders, including the athletes, the National Olympic Committees, the International Federations, Organising Committees for the Olympic Games, the Worldwide Olympic Partners and Olympic broadcast partners. It also collaborates with public and private authorities including the United Nations and other international organisations.


What are the various sports in the Olympics?

The Olympic programme includes all the sports in the Olympic Games. The IOC sets the programme and decides which sports will be included. The IOC also has the right to add or remove any sport. In order to be included in the Olympic programme, a sport must be governed by an International Federation which complies with the Olympic Charter and applies the World Anti-Doping Code. If it is widely practised around the world and satisfies a number of criteria established by the IOC Session, a recognised sport may be added to the Olympic programme.

In Athens in 1896, nine sports were on the programme: athletics, cycling, fencing, gymnastics, weightlifting, wrestling, swimming, tennis and shooting. The Olympic programme has come a long way since then: some sports have been discontinued (e.g., polo and baseball); others were dropped and then reintroduced (e.g., archery and tennis), while several new sports have been added (e.g., triathlon and taekwondo). The two major sports on the programme of the Summer Games are athletics and swimming. Athletics consists of a wide range of events: jumping, throwing, and sprint, middle-distance and long-distance races. Winter sports include sports like bobsleigh, curling, ice hockey, figure and speed skating, skiing (cross-country and ski jumping) and the military patrol race. The three main sports on the Winter Games programme are skating, skiing and ice hockey.


What are Summer and Winter Games?

The Olympic Games are held in both the summer and winter. The Olympics include the Games of the Olympiad (i.e., the Summer Games) and the Olympic Winter Games. The first edition of the modern Summer Games was held in 1896 in Athens (Greece) and the first Olympic Winter Games in 1924 in Chamonix (France). The word Olympiad designates the fouryear period that separates each edition of the Summer Games. Until 1992, the Summer and Winter Games were held in the same year, but since then, the Winter Games were moved two years from the Summer Games. The Summer and Winter Games continue to be organised once every four years. In the Summer Games, athletes compete in a wide variety of competitions on the track, on the road, on grass, in the water, on the water, in the open air and indoors, in a total of 28 sports. The Winter Games feature seven sports practised on snow and ice, both indoors and outdoors.


Which Indian athletes have qualified for Tokyo 2020?



1.      Men's Recurve(individual): Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das, Pravin Jadhav

2.      Women's Recurve (individual): Deepika Kumari

3.      Men's Team: Tarundeep Rai, Atanu Das, Pravin Jadhav

4.      Mixed Team: Eligible to compete


1.      Men's 20km race walk: KT. Irfan, Sandeep Kumar, Rahul Rohilla

2.      Women's 20km race walk: Bhavana Jat, Priyanka Goswami

3.      Men's 3000m steeplechase: Avinash Sable

4.      Mixed 4x400m Relay (making its debut at Tokyo 2020) - Muhammed Anas, V.K. Vismaya, Jisna Mathew, Noah Tom

5.      Men's javelin throw: Neeraj Chopra, Shivpal Singh

6.      Women’s jalveline throw: Annu Rani

7.      Men's long jump: Murali Sreeshankar

8.      Men's shot put: Tajinderpal Singh Toor

9.      Women's discus throw: Kamalpreet Kaur, Seema Punia

10.  Women’s 100m and 200m: Dutee Chand

11.  Men's 400m hurdles: MP Jabir


1.      Women's Singles: PV Sindhu

2.      Men's Singles: B Sai Praneeth

3.      Men's doubles: Satwiksairaj Rankireddy and Chirag Shetty


Women’s Doubles: Sania Mirza and Ankita Raina


Boxing Women

Pooja Rani (75kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Mary Kom (51kg) Men: Satish Kumar (91kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg),Vikas Krishan (69kg), Manish Kaushik (63kg), Amit Panghal (52kg).


Equestrian: Fouaad Mirza is the first Indian equestrian to qualify for the Games in 20 years.


Fencing Bhavani Devi became the first Indian fencer to qualify for the Olympics



1.      Men's National Team

2.      Women's National Team This will be the 20th Olympic Games list to feature the Indian Men's hockey team, who sit fourth in the world rankings, while the women's side will be making their third appearance and second in succession.


Golf : Anirban Lahiri and Aditi Ashok in the men's and the women's events, respectively


Gymnastics Pranati Nayak is only the second Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics


Judo Women's extra-lightweight (48kg): Sushila Devi Likmabam



1.      10m Women's Air Rifle: Anjum Moudgil, Apurvi Chandela

2.      10m Men's Air Rifle: Divyansh Singh Panwar, Deepak Kumar

3.      50m Women's Rifle 3 Position: Tejaswini Sawant

4.      50m Men's Rifle 3 Position: Sanjeev Rajput, Aishwarya Pratap Singh Tomar

5.      10m Women's Air Pistol: Manu Bhaker, Yashaswini Singh Deswal

6.      10m Men's Air Pistol: Saurabh Chaudhary, Abhishek Verma

7.      25m Women's Pistol: Rahi Sarnobat, Elavenil Valarivan

8.      Men's Skeet: Angad Veer Singh Bajwa, Mairaj Ahmad Khan


Rowing Men's lightweight double sculls: Arjun Jat and Arvind Singh


Sailing Laser Radial: Nethra Kumanan, Laser Standard: Vishnu Saravanan, 49er: KC Ganapathy and Varun Thakkar


Swimming 200m butterfly: Sajan Prakash 100m backstroke (men): Srihari Nataraj 100m backstroke (women): Maana Patel


Table Tennis Men's Singles: Sharath Kamal, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran Women's Singles: Sutirtha Mukherjee, Manika Batra Mixed Doubles: Sharath Kamal and Manika Batra


Weightlifting Women's 49kg: Mirabai Chanu



1.      Women's Freestyle: Seema Bisla (50kg), Vinesh Phogat (53kg), Anshu Malik (57kg), Sonam Malik (62kg)

2.      Men's Freestyle: Ravi Kumar Dahiya (57kg), Bajrang Punia (65kg), Deepak Punia (86 kg)


[More names may be added to the list as per the selection process.]


Olympics Trivia

·         The modern Olympic Games were long open only to amateur athletes. The IOC abolished this rule in 1984 (for the Games in Los Angeles), and since then professional athletes have also been able to take part.

·         As in Ancient Greece, there were no female athletes at the first edition of the modern Olympic Games. Women made their Olympic debut at the 1900 Games in Paris (France), in tennis and golf. It was not until the 2012 Games in London, with the introduction of women's boxing, that women could compete in all the sports on the programme. Since the 2004 Games in Athens, more than 40 per cent of the athletes at the Games have been women.

·         The 1912 Games in Stockholm (Sweden) were the first to boast the presence of national delegations from the five continents. The universality of the modern Olympic Games was assured.

·         The IOC has approved the list of 29 refugee athletes who will compete in Tokyo under the Olympic flag. Kenya's Tegla Loroupe, Olympian and former marathon world-record holder, will be the IOC Refugee Olympic Team's Chef de Mission. The athletes were selected from among the refugee athletes currently supported by the IOC through the Olympic Scholarships for Refugee Athletes programme. During the opening ceremony on July 23, the refugee athletes, from 13 host National Olympic Committees competing in 12 sports, will be entering the stadium "in second position immediately after Greece".


(Compiled by Annesha Banerjee & Anuja Bhardwajan) (Source: Olympics.com)