The Olympic Games are a major international event of summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes compete in a wide variety of events. The Games are currently held every two years, with Summer and Winter Olympic Games alternating. Originally, the ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD. In the late 19th century, Baron Pierre de Coubertin was inspired by Olympic festivals to revive the Games. For this purpose, he founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, and two years later, the modern Olympic Games were established in Athens. The IOC has since become the governing body of the Olympic Movement, whose structure and actions are defined by the Olympic Charter.
The evolution of the Olympic Movement during the 20th century forced the IOC to adapt the Games to the world's changing social circumstances. Some of these adjustments included the creation of the Winter Games for ice and snow sports, the Paralympic Games for athletes with physical disabilities, and the Youth Olympic Games for teenage athletes. The IOC also had to accommodate the Games to the varying economical, political, and technological realities of the 20th century. As a result, the Olympics shifted away from pure amateurism, as envisioned by Coubertin, to allow participation of professional athletes. The growing importance of the mass media created the issue of corporate sponsorship and commercialization of the Games.
The Olympic Movement currently comprises international sports federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees (NOCs), and organizing committees for each specific Olympic Games. As the decision-making body, the IOC is responsible for choosing the host city for each Olympic Games. The host city is responsible for organizing and funding a celebration of the Games consistent with the Olympic Charter. The Olympic program, consisting of the sports to be contested at each Olympic Games, is also determined by the IOC. The celebration of the Games encompasses many rituals and symbols, such as the Olympic flag and torch, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies. There are over 13,000 athletes that compete at the Summer and Winter Olympics in 33 different sports and nearly 400 events. The first, second, and third place finishers in each event receive gold, silver or bronze Olympic medals, respectively.
The Games have grown in scale to the point that nearly every nation is represented. Such growth has created numerous challenges, including boycotts, doping, bribery of officials, and terrorism. Every two years, the Olympics and its media exposure provide unknown athletes with the chance to attain national, and in particular cases, international fame. The Games also constitute a major opportunity for the host city and country to promote and showcase themselves to the world