The 1906 Summer Olympics, or the 1906 Intercalated games, were held in Athens. The intercalated competitions were intermediate games to the internationally organized Olympics, and were meant to be organized in Greece every four years, between the main Olympics. This idea later lost support from the IOC and these games were discontinued.
Athens was awarded the 2004 Summer Olympics on 5 September 1997 in Lausanne, Switzerland, after having lost a previous bid to host the 1996 Summer Olympics, to Atlanta, United States. It was to be the second time Athens would host the games, following the inaugural event of 1896. After an unsuccessful bid in 1990, the 1997 bid was radically improved, including an appeal to Greece's Olympic history. In the last round of voting, Athens defeated Rome with 66 votes to 41. Prior to this round, the cities of Buenos Aires, Stockholm and Cape Town had been eliminated from competition, having received fewer votes.
Although the heavy cost was criticized, estimated at $1.5 billion, Athens was transformed into a more functional city that enjoys modern technology both in transportation and in modern urban development. The games welcomed over 10,000 athletes from all 202 countries.
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Over the past 106 years, nearly three hundred athletes from the University of California have participated in the Olympic games. They have represented 37 different countries, and have won 159 Olympic medals. But only one athlete was Cal's first Olympian, and that was Robert Edgren, Class of 1896. Edgren, who at 6'5" and 225 pounds was considered absolutely massive in his era, represented the United States in shot put and discus at the 1906 Athens Olympics. In the mid-1890s, Edgren starred at Cal in all the throwing events: shot put, discus, hammer, and weight. He was a member of the famed 1895 Cal track and field team, which gained the first national notice for University of California sports during a triumphant tour through eastern schools, and helped give Cal its knickname of "Golden Bears." After graduating from Cal, Edgren became a nationally renowned journalist, cartoonist, and sports writer, while at the same time continuing to participate in amateur athletics. In 1901, Edgren held the world record in the hammer throw, and his athletic career culminated in the 1906 Olympics. He set a high standard for all Cal's future Olympic athletes.
Those who follow the Olympics may at this point be wondering how there could have been games in 1906. Wasn't the first modern Olympics in 1896? And aren't the Olympics held every four years? So there should have been games in 1904 and 1908, but not in 1906, right? All this is true. But 1906 was an exception. The first modern Olympics, held in Athens in 1896, were a great success. So much so, in fact, that the Greek government lobbied to have the Olympics held permanently in Greece. But the founder of the Olympic movement was French, and he was determined to have the 1900 games in Paris. They were a disaster. Not only was the public not overwhelmed by "sports" such as motorboat racing, obstacle course swimming, balloon racing, tug-of-war, and croquet (which was attended by exactly one paying spectator, an elderly English gentleman), but the games were scheduled to coincide with a World's Fair, which lasted nearly five months. The games were thus dragged out over that five month period, and were completely overshadowed by the Fair. In fact, some athletes were not even aware that their particular events were considered part of the Olympics. The 1904 Olympics were no better. They were held in St. Louis, and again were spread out over a period of several months. Worse, almost nobody showed up. Many athletes found it too difficult or too expensive -- or too uninteresting -- to travel to St. Louis. As a result, although 523 American and 52 Canadian athletes participated, there were only a total of 55 athletes from 10 other countries at the games. The Olympic movement seemed to have sputtered out.
The 1906 Olympics introduced a number of traditions which are now a vital part of the games. The games were held in a compressed time of two weeks, to increase spectators' interest. It was the first Olympics that included the parade of nations in the opening ceremonies, with athletes entering the stadium by country, which has been such an important part of the games ever since. It was the first Olympics where the flags of the winning athletes' countries were raised. And it was the first Olympics to hold a closing ceremony.
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