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The modern Olympic Games (French: Jeux olympiques) are the leading international sporting event featuring summer and winter sports competitions wherein thousands of athletes variously compete. The Olympic Games are considered the world's foremost sports competition with more than 200 nations participating. The Olympic Games are held every four years, with the Summer and Winter Games alternating by occurring every four years but two years apart. Their creation was inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia, Greece, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894. The IOC is the governing body of the Olympic Movement, with the Olympic Charter defining its structure and authority.
The evolution of the Olympic Movement during the 20th and 21st centuries has caused several changes to the Olympic Games. Among these adjustments are creating the Winter Games for ice and winter sports, the Paralympic Games for athletes with a disability, and the Youth Olympic Games for teenage athletes. The IOC has adapted to economic, political, and technological advancements, shifting the Olympics from pure amateurism, as envisioned by Coubertin, to allow participation of professional athletes. The growing importance of mass media created the issue of corporate sponsorship and commercializing the Games. World wars caused the 1916, 1940, and 1944 Games' cancellings. Large boycotts during the Cold War limited participation in the 1980 and 1984 Games.
The Olympic Movement comprises international sports federations (IFs), National Olympic Committees (NOCs), and organizing committees for each specific Olympic Games. As the decision-making body, the IOC chooses each Games' host city, and organizes and funds the Games according to the Olympic Charter. The IOC determined the olympic program, which comprises the sports to be contested at the Games. There are several Olympic rituals and symbols; e.g., the Olympic flag, torch, and opening and closing ceremonies. Over 13,000 athletes compete at the Summer and Winter Olympic Games in 33 different sports and nearly 400 events. The first, second, and third place finishers in each event receive Olympic medals: gold, silver, and bronze, respectively.
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