People all over the world are fond of sports and games. Sport makes people healthy, keeps them fit, more organized and better disciplined. Some people go in for sports for their health and some for professional aims.
There are many stadiums, sport grounds, swimming pools, football fields in each town. Practically all kinds of sports are popular in this country but football, figure-skating and tennis enjoy the greatest popularity. A lot of people are fond of jogging. In the morning and in the evening we can see people jogging in the parks, stadiums and even in the streets. In every school pupils spend much time going in for sports. First of all they have their physical training lessons. And when school is over they may train at different sports clubs and sections in different kinds of sport.
Professional sport is also paid much attention to in this country. Every year there are a lot of sport competitions, sport day and Olympiads. 0nce in four years the Olympic Games take place in different countries.
There are Summer and Winter Olympic Games. This is a great sport competition of the best sportsmen in the world.
The Olympic Games have a very long history. They began in 777 BC in Greece and
took place every four years for nearly twelve centuries at Olimpia. They included
many different kinds of sports: running, boxing, wrestling, etc. All the cities in Greece
sent their best athletes to Olimpia to compete in the Games. For the period of the Games
all the wars stopped. So the Olympic Games became the symbol of peace and friendship.
In 394 AD the Games were abolished and were not renewed until many centuries
In 1894, a Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, addressed all the sports governing
bodies and pointed out the significance of sports and its educational value.
Two years later the first modern Olympic Games took place. Of course, the competi-
tions were held in Greece to symbolize the continuation of the centuries-old tradition.
In 1896 the International Olympic Committee was set up. It is the central policy-
making body of the Olympic movement. It is formed by the representatives of all coun-
tries which take part in the Olympic Games. The International Olympic Committee
decides upon the programme of the games, the number of the participants and the city-
host for the Games. Over one hundred and fifty countries are represented in the
International Olympic Committee now. Besides, each country has its National Olympic
Summer and Winter Games are held separately. There are always several cities
wishing to host the Games. The most suitable is selected by the International Committee.
After that the city of the Games starts preparations for the competitions, constructs new
sports facilities, stadiums, hotels, press centres. Thousands of athletes, journalists and
guests come to the Games, and it takes great efforts to arrange everything. There is
always an interesting cultural programme of concerts, exhibitions, festivals, etc., for each Games.
Figure skating was included in the 1908 Olympics and ice hockey was added in 1920. The First Olympic Winter Games were staged in Chamonix, France, in 1924. 294 athletes from 16 nations took part in 14 events. Over the next 68 years, the Winter Games were held in the same year as the Summer Games. A new cycle began in 1994. Now the Winter Olympics, while still held every four years, are staged in a different year than the Summer Games. At the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, more than 2000 athletes representing more than 70 nations with compete in 78 different events. Half of these events have been added to the Olympic program since 1984.
In 1998 the Winter Games returned to Japan after 26 years. Snowboarding and curling debuted as official sports and women's ice hockey was introduced to the Olympic program. For the first time, the men's ice hockey tournament was opened to all professionals. The inspired team from the Czech Republic scored a surprise victory. Björn Dählie won three gold medals in Nordic skiing to become the first winter athlete to earn eight career gold medals and twelve total medals. Tara Lipinski won the women's figure skating title to become, at age fifteen, the youngest champion in an individual event in the history of the Winter Olympics. The spirit of the Games was exemplified by Alpine skier Hermann Maier. Maier survived a spectacular fall in the downhill, recovered and earned gold medals in both the super-g and the giant slalom.
Dates: 7 - 22 February 1998
2 302 Athletes (814 women, 1 488 men)
7 sports - 68 Events - 72 nations
Aosta (ITA), Jaca (ESP), Oestersund (SWE) and Salt Lake City (USA)
Official opening by: His Majesty the Emperor Akihito