Coubertin Quote for Aug, 25
… to the rest of the world, the revival of the Olympiads was still no more than a brilliant, picturesque item of news, (while) on Greek minds it was having the effect of the most potent elixir.Share
The first modern Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 had a far greater effect on the Greek hosts than on the rest of the world. While news reports of the Games did appear in Paris, London and New York, they were not commanding headlines at the time, but in Athens, a city with a population of 70,000, more than 90,000 people gathered for the opening ceremony, 50,000 in the Panathenaic Stadium and 40,000 looking on from the surrounding hills. The revived Olympics were the most significant popular event in Greece since ancient times—and the euphoria was widespread. When King George I proclaimed that all future Olympic Games should be hosted in Athens—betraying the rotational plans set forth by their founder, Baron Pierre de Coubertin—thousands rallied in support of the idea, including the ten athletes on the first US Olympic Team, all of whom signed a petition. While the Baron kept his cool and guided the next Games to Paris in 1900, he recalled in his Olympic Memoirs the powerful effect the success of the Games had on the Greek mind. That “most potent elixir” produced a crisis that foreshadowed the struggles for control of the Games the Baron would face throughout his early Olympic career.
“The whole Greek world had thrilled in unison at this spectacle. A sort of moral mobilization took place ... And while, to the rest of the world, the revival of the Olympiads was still no more than a brilliant, picturesque item of news, on Greek minds it was having the effect of the most potent elixir.”