How Often Are the Olympics?

Pyeongchang will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. Editorial credit: SiHo /
Pyeongchang will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. Editorial credit: SiHo /

Modern Olympics or Olympic Games are the top international sporting event comprising of both winter and summer sports competitions where numerous athletes from different countries across the world participate in various competitions. With over 200 participating countries, the event is considered the foremost competition for sports in the world. The Olympic Games are held after four years but the winter and Summer Olympic Games alternate, each being held every four years but two years part.

Ancient Olympics

The Winter and Summer Olympic Games was an idea that was inspired by the ancient Olympics. The ancient Olympics were initially hosted in Olympia, a site found in Greece between the eighth century BCE and the fourth century CE. Established in 1894, by its founder Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) became the Olympics’ governing body. Founding of the IOC resulted in the first modern Olympics which were held in Athens, Greece. The International Olympic Committee is the Olympic Movement’s governing body while the Olympic Charter defines its authority and structure.

History of the Modern Olympics

Greece held the 1st modern Olympic in 1896, with the games taking place every 4 years thereafter. The first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix, France in 1924 before the Olympic Games in Paris. The games were held on a four-year interval until 1936, and then interrupted by World War II. No games were held in 1940 and 1944, but they resumed in 1948. The Winter Olympic Games and the Summer Olympic Games were held in the same year until 1986, when a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) schedule the two games on separate four-year intervals. As such, the Summer and Winter Olympics are now held every four years, but two years apart.

Evolution of the Olympic Movement

The Olympic Movement’s evolution between the 20th and 21st centuries led to many changes in the Olympic Games. For instance, the introduction of the Paralympics for athletes with disabilities such as visually and intellectually impaired, people with paraplegia, athletes with impaired muscle power, and many others. Other adjustments include the creation of the Youth Olympic Games for athletes who are teenagers and the Winter Olympics for winter and ice sports. The IOC also endorses Special Olympics and Deaflympics. Similarly, the IOC has been faced with the challenge of adapting to different technological, economic, and political adjustments. At present, more than 13,000 athletes participate in almost 400 events and 33 different sports during the Winter and Summer Olympic Games. All the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishers in every Olympic Game are awarded a gold, silver, and bronze medal respectively.

Upcoming Olympics

There are five cities in line to host upcoming Summer and Winter Olympics. Pyeongchang will host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Tokyo will host the 2020 Summer Olympics. In 2022, Beijing will host the Winter Olympics and therefore become the only city to have hosted both the Summer and Winter versions of the Olympic games. Paris and Los Angeles will host the 2024 and 2028 Olympics respectively.


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