Panathinaikos Stadium in 1896

Athens 1896

Games Summary

Games of the I Olympiad

It was at the first IOC Congress in Paris in 1894 that Greece was entrusted with hosting the first Olympic Games of the modern era. Because the site of the Ancient Games, Olympia, was remote and undeveloped, Athens was selected to be the host city.

With no financial support from the Greek government, the organizing committee raised money by selling souvenir stamps and medals. Businessman Giorgios Averof donated approximately one million drachmas to facilitate the reconstruction of the Panathenaic Stadium, which had been originally built in 330 B.C.

As in the ancient Games, all the competitors were men, with the largest delegations coming from Greece, Germany, France and Great Britain. First place winners were awarded a silver medal, an olive branch and a diploma. Second place finishers were given a copper medal, a laurel branch and a diploma.

On April 6, American James Connolly won the triple jump to become the first Olympic champion in more than 1500 years. The people of Athens greeted the Games with great enthusiasm and their support was rewarded when Greek shepherd Spyridon Louis won the most notable event, the marathon.

It was at these Games at the Olympic Anthem, composed by Spiros Samaras and Kostis Palamas was first played. It became the official Olympic Anthem at the IOC Session in 1958.