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The Olympics started way back in Ancient Greece, where athletes competed in the buff
and corporate tie-ins were almost unheard of. After that people would try and bring
the games back, such as in revolutionary France, Liverpool and Wenlock. And the thoroughly
French, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, was so stirred by Wenlock s giddy heights that he
founded the proper Olympics; holding the first in 1896 in, a far less marble-y, Greece. The
next few games were just sideshows to bigger things, but they did see women s events introduced
and the first paralympian winner - a wooden legged gymnast, win 3 golds. And in 1912,
Sweden finally stepped-in and assembled an affordable and well-designed Olympics. But
just when things were on track, trouble in Europe got the 1916 games cancelled. And Germany
weren t welcome at the next games, having recently paid the hosts a rather unwelcomed
visit. But the Olympics had a swift revamp, launching big brands like the Olympic rings
and flame. Fun fact: the torch relay started in 1936 when it was passed to Nazi Berlin.
This was Hitler s big fascist party, where he tried to ban Black and Jewish athletes.
Black runner, Jesse Owens famously won 4 gold medals, ruining Hitler bash and we all had
a war. Then 48 saw those still on speaking terms meet up in a flat-broke London for the
topically titled Austerity Games . Germany, Japan and the Soviet Union stayed home. Meanwhile
in nearby Aylesbury, injured war veterans held an archery contest, which went on to
become the Paralympics. Then after a fairly dull fifties, the sixties were much more exciting.
Not only did the games see its first black African champion; they also saw the Black
Power salute performed on the winner s podium. There was tragedy in the 70s, with 12 murdered
in the Munich Massacre. Among the dead were 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team. And
the eighties saw lots of spiteful snubbing, with the US and the Soviets taking it in turns
to stand each other up. Since then the 90s and 00s have seen far less boycotts; with
a schmoozey bunch all showing up to the Beijing Olympics, despite China s track record. The
games have also proved economy bustingly expensive of late, so good luck Britain for 2012 re
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