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According to the Olympic Charter, the Summer Olympic Games are called the Games of the Olympiad and form a separate cycle from the Olympic Winter Games. An Olympiad is a four-year period celebrated by the Olympic Games. The Games of the XXVII Olympiad were held in Sydney in 2000, and those of the XXVIII Olympiad in Athens in 2004. The four-year interval is believed to continue a tradition of the ancient Games and contributes to the attractiveness or appeal of the Games.

The first Olympic Games of the modern era were held in Athens (Greece) in 1896, and the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix (France) in 1924. Until 1992 the Summer and Winter Games ran in parallel in the same year, but then they split and started to follow a different cycle. Barcelona (Spain) and Albertville (France) were the host cities of the 1992 Summer and Winter Olympic Games respectively


When Pierre de Coubertin and his associates renewed the Olympic Games they were fully aware of the efforts and resources needed for such a massive undertaking. It had been decided that the site of the Games would rotate, thus enabling more countries and people to experience and share the responsibility of staging them. Although the host cities of the first four Olympic Games were voted for by the IOC, they were nominated rather than selected because of their symbolic significance.

The Games of 1896, 1900 and 1904 were poorly organised, and the latter two turned out to be failures. Reduced to a mere appendage to the World Exhibition and the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition respectively, the 1904 Games lasted for several months, were poorly attended, and some athletes did not even realise they were competing at the Olympics. However, all this changed as London (1908) and Stockholm (1912) paved the way to a more rational approach, greater public commitment and careful planning

The Olympic Games of 2004 began on 15 August 1996 for the host city of Athens. This was the submission deadline for candidate cities. The IOC took the actual decision in September 1997. It takes at least eight years to put forward a bid and organise the Games. The IOC charter stipulates that all candidate cities must reply to a very comprehensive questionnaire, and present detailed arguments in favour of their bid.

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