The governing body of the Olympic Games is the International Olympic Committee (IOC). They have been responsible for the games since they revived the Olympic Games with Summer Olympics at Athens in 1896. In 1924, the first Winter Olympics were held in France. Games were held in the same year through 1992 when the IOC began alternating the Summer and Winter Games every four years, but two years apart respectively.
The 2008 Summer Olympic Games were held in Beijing, China, and included 31 summer sports. The 2010 Winter Games will be held in Vancouver, Canada. The number and type of games on the Olympic Sport List varies slightly in different years. Occasionally games are added and discontinued. The IOC also may allow demonstration sports, such as dog sled racing and gliding.
Briefly, the IOC’s role is to encourage and support ethics and fair play in sports, nurture and protect the sporting games and the participating athletes through education, drug testing, and to maintain the highest principles of sports organizations throughout the world. In addition, the IOC is the caretaker of non violent games, concern for the environment, and the protector of the Games themselves from political disruption and corruption. They determine any current Olympic Sport List. They are the final decision makers in the event of any dispute. They also select the host cities, and work to ensure the peaceful continuance of the Olympic Games.
2008 summer games included:
Baseball (only 1 event)
Cycling (BMX, Mountain, Road, Track)
Softball (only 1 event)
Volleyball (Indoor and Beach)
Additional summer sports recognized by the IOC:
Mountaineering and Climbing
Tug of War
These are now discontinued summer sports:
Jeu de paume
Tug of War
Sports scheduled for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games include:
Biathlon (and Paralympic Biathlon)
Bobsleigh (and Skeleton)
Curling (and Wheelchair Curling)
Ice Hockey (and Ice Sledge Hockey)
Skating (Figure, Speed, Short Track Speed)
Skiing (Alpine, Cross Country, Freestyle, Nordic, Ski Jumping, Snowboarding)
The Olympic Sport List is flexible and changes with the current times and trends. Sports must meet specific requirements to be included. Sports for men and women must be played, respectively, in 75 and 50 countries, on four continents, to be included. The Olympic Games are important as an economic resource as well as global peacemaker. Like the original games, warring countries suspend their conflicts to participate in peaceful competition, reminding the world that yes, we can all get along and have friendly athletic competition.