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4

The Modern Olympic Games

The development of the Games

Two important occasions for women at the Summer Games were:

  • the first appearance of women swimmers at the 1912 Games in Stockholm

  • the first female athletics competitions, at the Amsterdam Games in 1928 (the 800 m race was considered too difficult for women and was discon- tinued after 1928, not to be reintroduced until 1960).

From canoeing (1948) to volleyball (1964), from cycling (1984) to football (1996), women Olympians have gone from strength to strength!

At the turn of the third millennium, over 40% of athletes at the 2000 Games in Sydney (Australia) were women. This was the largest proportion of female participants in the history of the Olympic Games. For the first time, women took part in the modern pentathlon and in weightlifting events.

The only sports now not open to women on the programme of the Summer Games are box- ing and baseball, as female wrestlers are making their Olympic debut at the 2004 Games in Athens. Several sports include mixed events (e.g. equestrian, badminton, sailing). One sport, softball, is practised only by women, along with two disciplines: synchronised swimming and rhythmic gymnastics.

GAMES IN WINTER

When Coubertin revived the Olympic Games, only summer sports were included. In the 1920s, however, snow and ice sports began to enjoy soaring popularity. A number of IOC members decided to react to this new phenomenon. In 1924, it was decided to hold an International Winter Sports Week in Chamonix (France): 258 athletes from 16 countries (mainly in Europe and North America) attended.

The week was a great success and, two years later, it was retroactively named the first Olympic Winter Games. The future of an Olympic event dedicated exclusively to snow and ice sports was assured.

At the Winter Games in Salt Lake City (United States of America) in 2002, a total of 2399 participants came together from a range of countries as diverse as Jamaica and Australia!

© Olympic Museum and Studies Centre, Lausanne, 2002

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