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Sep 30, 2000



Ist OLYMPIC GAMES IN ATHENS, GREECE 1896 (April 6 to 15)

The Greek government, beset at the time with internal financial and political problems, showed no interest in staging the first modern Olympic Games as originally proposed by founding father, Frenchman Pierre de Fredi, Baron de Coubertin.

But then finally, with Budapest all but breaking down the IOC's door in an effort to usurp the Games by default, Crown Prince Constantine stepped in and set up an organising committee to collect funds. The turning point came when Georges Averoff, a Greek businessman who lived in Egypt, offered to pay the cost of the reconstruction of the Panathenean Stadium in Athens, built originally in 330BC by Luycurgus, a disciple of Plato, and then rebuilt 500 years later by Herodes Atticus.

Since then it had gradually been covered up until it was excavated in 1870 and a total of 920 000 Drachma was used to prepare it for the first of the modern Games.

Although formally opened by King George of Greece in the presence of more than 40 000 packed into the Panethenean and thousands more lining the surrounding hills, many of them in Athens to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Greece's independence from Turkey, the first modern Games were a pretty informal affair.

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