The first modern Olympic Games opened in Athens on April 6, 1896. King Georgios I of Greece and 60,000 spectators welcomed 280 athletes from 13 countries.
The games featured 43 events. Track-and-field events were held at the all-marble Panathenaic Stadium, which had been built in 330 B.C.
The marathon competition followed the 26.2-mile route run by ancient Greek soldier Pheidippides, who ran from Marathon to Athens in 490 B.C. to announce the Greeks’ victory in the Battle of Marathon.
The 1896 marathon would turn Greek runner Spyridon Louis into a national hero after he achieved a remarkable come-from-behind victory.
Founded by French historian Pierre de Coubertin in 1894, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) organized the 1896 games. The committee unanimously selected Athens to host because Greece was the birthplace of the original Olympic Games.
See historic images from the first modern Olympic Games
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