The Olympics is a quadrennial international multi-sport event celebrated as a global sports festival by people all over the world. The Olympics are held in both the summer and winter, and its ultimate goal is the cultivation of people and world peace through sports. The Games of the XXIX Olympiad held in 2008 in Beijing, China, with 302 events in 28 sports, had athletes participating from 204 countries and regions. London will be the hosts of the 2012 Olympics, commemorating the memorable 30th Olympic Games.
Today's Olympic Games' roots date back to the "Ancient Olympics" held 2800 year ago. Also known as the "Olympiad," the event took place in the Olympia region of ancient Greece. There are various opinions regarding its origins. It is said that the event was an athletic and artistic festival, dedicated to worshipping of the gods. However, the Ancient Olympics was hindered along the way by numerous conflicts and finally came to an end in 393 A.D.
1,500 years later, in 1892, a French educator, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, began the Olympic revival movement at the forefront. Baron de Coubertin's idea to reinstate the Olympic Games was presented to the audience at the international congress held in June 1894, Paris, and his proposal was unanimously approved. Subsequently, 2 years later, the unforgettable first Modern Olympics was held in the Olympics homeland of Athens, Greece.
The five rings, the well-known symbol of the Olympics, were also devised by Baron de Coubertin to express the solidarity of the world's five continents.
Japanese educator, Jigoro Kano, considered the "father of the Olympic Movement," was the headmaster of the Tokyo Higher Normal School (known currently as Tsukuba University), and made great efforts toward the promotion of judo. In 1909, Kano became the first IOC member to serve from Asia. Following this, Kano established the Japan Sports Association in preparation for Japan's eventual participation in the Olympics. In 1911, he organised a Olympic qualifying competition, from which short distance runner Yahiko Mishima and marathoner Shiso Kanaguri qualified for the Games of the V Olympiad held in 1912 in Stockholm the first Olympics in which Japanese athletes participated.
Baron de Coubertin's notion of Olympism he advocated for was the elevation of the mind and soul, overcoming differences between nationalities and cultures, embracing friendship, a sense of solidarity, and fair play; ultimately leading to the contribution towards world peace and the betterment of the world. This ideal has been passed down undiminished to this day, and as a result he is revered as the "Father of Olympics." In addition to the Olympic theme of "sports" and "culture," another focus today is "environment." The Olympics provides an opportunity for the international community to direct its attention to global environmental issues.
The Olympic Movement is led by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) guided by the philosophy of Olympism, which strives to promote world peace and the betterment of society. The Olympic Movement is embraced all over the world, and the Olympic Charter stipulates the intersecting five-ring mark as the movement's symbol.
The IOC is fully responsible for the advancement of Olympism in accordance with the Olympic Charter. The IOC recognizes 205 countries and regions, and hosts the Summer and Winter Olympics.
The Olympic Movement is advanced by various people and organisations. The National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and the International Federations (IFs) are also members of the Olympic Movement. The NOCs send their national delegations to the Olympics. The Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) is the NOC in Japan. The IFs are the international sports organisations that govern each specific sport, and they reserve full authority over the operation of their respective competitions during the Games.
Additionally, the International Olympic Academy (IOA) and the National Olympic Academy (NOA) both take charge in educational and promotional activities founded on Olympism.
Leading activities that are part of the Olympic Movement include anti-doping, women's participation, and economic support. Doping, which is the use of muscle-enhancing agents and other banned substances to improve performance, is not only illegal but can have serious detrimental effects on the body, and thus the IOC has taken on an indispensable role in establishing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to fight doping in sports. Women were not allowed to compete in Ancient Olympic Games, and it was not until the inaugural Modern Olympics in Athens that they were welcomed as participants. As a result of the women's movement, as well as the efforts of the IOC's working group, many female athletes now take part in the Games. Through the aid programme "Solidarity," the IOC plays a major role in providing financial support to athletes and coaches living in economically deprived societies. Funds are allocated for scholarships, construction of sports facilities, and other activities aimed at improving expertise and performance for all.
Another core activity of the Olympic Movement is the Paralympics the pinnacle sporting event for athletes with disabilities. The Paralympics is hosted immediately following the Olympics, and performance levels are increasing at a rapid pace.