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An OLYMPIAD (Greek : Ὀλυμπιάς, Olympiás) is a period of four years associated with the Olympic Games of the Ancient Greeks . During the Hellenistic period
Hellenistic period
, beginning with Ephorus , it was used as a calendar epoch . Converting to the modern BC/AD dating system the first Olympiad
began in the summer of 776 BC and lasted until the summer of 772 BC , when the second Olympiad
would begin with the commencement of the next games. By extrapolation to the Gregorian calendar , the 2nd year of the 699th Olympiad
begins in (Northern-Hemisphere) mid-summer 2018.

A modern Olympiad
refers to a four-year period beginning January 1 of a year in which the Summer Olympics
Summer Olympics
are due to occur. The first modern Olympiad
began in 1896, the second in 1900, and so on (the 31st began in 2016: see the Olympic Charter).


* 1 Ancient Olympics

* 1.1 Historians * 1.2 Examples of Ancient Olympiad
dates * 1.3 Start of the Olympiad
* 1.4 Anolympiad * 1.5 End of the era

* 2 Modern Olympics

* 2.1 Start and end * 2.2 Quadrennium * 2.3 Cultural Olympiad

* 3 Other uses * 4 Notes * 5 References * 6 External links


An ancient Olympiad
was a period of four years grouped together, counting inclusively as the ancients did. Each ancient Olympic year overlapped onto two of our modern reckoning of BC or AD years, from midsummer to midsummer. Example: Olympiad
140, year 1 = 220/219 BC; year 2 = 219/218 BC; year 3 = 218/217 BC; year 4 = 217/216 BC. Therefore, the games would have been held in July/August of 220 BC and held the next time in July/August of 216 BC , after four olympic years had been completed.


The sophist Hippias was the first writer to publish a list of victors of the Olympic Games, and by the time of Eratosthenes
, it was generally agreed that the first Olympic games had happened during the summer of 776 BC. The combination of victor lists and calculations from 776 BC onwards enabled Greek historians to use the Olympiads as a way of reckoning time that did not depend on the time reckonings of one of the city-states. (See Attic calendar .) The first to do so consistently was Timaeus of Tauromenium
in the third century BC. Nevertheless, since for events of the early history of the games the reckoning was used in retrospect, some of the dates given by later historian for events before the 5th century BC are very unreliable. In the 2nd century AD, Phlegon of Tralles summarised the events of each Olympiad
in a book called Olympiads, and an extract from this has been preserved by the Byzantine writer Photius
. Christian chroniclers continued to use this Greek system of dating as a way of synchronising biblical events with Greek and Roman history. In the 3rd century AD, Sextus Julius Africanus compiled a list of Olympic victors up to 217 BC, and this list has been preserved in the Chronicle of Eusebius


A relief of the Greek Olympiad.

* Early historians sometimes used the names of Olympic victors as a method of dating events to a specific year. For instance, Thucydides says in his account of the year 428 BC: "It was the Olympiad
in which the Rhodian Dorieus gained his second victory". * Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus
dates the foundation of Rome to the first year of the seventh Olympiad, 752/1 BC. Since Rome was founded on April 21, which was in the last half of the ancient Olympic year, it would be 751 BC specifically. In Book 1 chapter 75 Dionysius states: "...Romulus, the first ruler of the city, began his reign in the first year of the seventh Olympiad, when Charops at Athens was in the first year of his ten-year term as archon." * Diodorus Siculus
Diodorus Siculus
dates the Persian invasion of Greece to 480 BC: "Calliades was archon in Athens, and the Romans made Spurius Cassius and Proculus Verginius Tricostus consuls, and the Eleians celebrated the Seventy-fifth Olympiad, that in which Astylus of Syracuse won the stadion. It was in this year that king Xerxes made his campaign against Greece." * Jerome
, in his Latin
translation of the Chronicle of Eusebius
, dates the birth of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ
to year 3 of Olympiad
194, the 42nd year of the reign of the emperor Augustus
, which equates to the year 2 BC.


An Olympiad
started with the holding of the games, which occurred on the first or second full moon after the summer solstice , in what we call July or August. The games were therefore essentially a new years festival. In 776 BC this occurred on either July 23 or August 21. (After the introduction of the Metonic cycle
Metonic cycle
about 432 BC, the start of the Olympic year was determined slightly differently).


Though the games were held without interruption, on more than one occasion they were held by others than the Eleians . The Eleians declared such games Anolympiads (non-Olympics), but it is assumed the winners were nevertheless recorded.


During the 3rd century AD, records of the games are so scanty that historians are not certain whether after 261 they were still held every four years. During the early years of the Olympiad, any physical benefit deriving from a sport was banned. Some winners were recorded though, until the last Olympiad
of 393AD. In 394, Roman Emperor Theodosius I
Theodosius I
outlawed the games at Olympia as pagan. Though it would have been possible to continue the reckoning by just counting four-year periods, by the middle of the 5th century AD reckoning by Olympiads had become disused.



I (1st) 1 Jan 1896 31 Dec 1899 Athens, Greece

II (2nd) 1 Jan 1900 31 Dec 1903 Paris, France

III (3rd) 1 Jan 1904 31 Dec 1907 St. Louis, United States

IV (4th) 1 Jan 1908 31 Dec 1911 London, United Kingdom

V (5th) 1 Jan 1912 31 Dec 1915 Stockholm, Sweden

VI (6th) 1 Jan 1916 31 Dec 1919 Not celebrated (Originally Berlin, German Empire)

VII (7th) 1 Jan 1920 31 Dec 1923 Antwerp, Belgium

VIII (8th) 1 Jan 1924 31 Dec 1927 Paris, France

IX (9th) 1 Jan 1928 31 Dec 1931 Amsterdam, Netherlands

X (10th) 1 Jan 1932 31 Dec 1935 Los Angeles, United States

XI (11th) 1 Jan 1936 31 Dec 1939 Berlin, Germany

XII (12th) 1 Jan 1940 31 Dec 1943 Not celebrated (Originally Tokyo, Japan or Helsinki, Finland)

XIII (13th) 1 Jan 1944 31 Dec 1947 Not celebrated (Originally London, United Kingdom)

XIV (14th) 1 Jan 1948 31 Dec 1951 London, United Kingdom

XV (15th) 1 Jan 1952 31 Dec 1955 Helsinki, Finland

XVI (16th) 1 Jan 1956 31 Dec 1959 Melbourne, Australia

XVII (17th) 1 Jan 1960 31 Dec 1963 Rome, Italy

XVIII (18th) 1 Jan 1964 31 Dec 1967 Tokyo, Japan

XIX (19th) 1 Jan 1968 31 Dec 1971 Mexico City, Mexico

XX (20th) 1 Jan 1972 31 Dec 1975 Munich, West Germany

XXI (21st) 1 Jan 1976 31 Dec 1979 Montreal, Canada

XXII (22nd) 1 Jan 1980 31 Dec 1983 Moscow, Soviet Union

XXIII (23rd) 1 Jan 1984 31 Dec 1987 Los Angeles, United States

XXIV (24th) 1 Jan 1988 31 Dec 1991 Seoul, South Korea

XXV (25th) 1 Jan 1992 31 Dec 1995 Barcelona, Spain

XXVI (26th) 1 Jan 1996 31 Dec 1999 Atlanta, United States

XXVII (27th) 1 Jan 2000 31 Dec 2003 Sydney, Australia

XXVIII (28th) 1 Jan 2004 31 Dec 2007 Athens, Greece

XXIX (29th) 1 Jan 2008 31 Dec 2011 Beijing, China

XXX (30th) 1 Jan 2012 31 Dec 2015 London, United Kingdom

XXXI (31st) 1 Jan 2016 31 Dec 2019 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

XXXII (32nd) 1 Jan 2020 31 Dec 2023 Tokyo, Japan

XXXIII (33rd) 1 Jan 2024 31 Dec 2027 Paris, France

XXXIV (34th) 1 Jan 2028 31 Dec 2031 Los Angeles, United States

For the modern Olympics the term was long used to indicate the games themselves, but the IOC now uses it to indicate a period of four years.


The modern Olympiad
is a period of four consecutive calendar years, beginning on the first of January of the first year and ending on the thirty-first of December of the fourth year. The Olympiads are numbered consecutively from the first Games of the Olympiad
celebrated in Athens in 1896. The XXXI Olympiad
began on January 1, 2016 and will end on December 31, 2019.

The Summer Olympics
Summer Olympics
are more correctly referred to as the Games of the Olympiad. The first poster to announce the games using this term was the one for the 1932 Summer Olympics
Summer Olympics
, in Los Angeles, using the phrase: Call to the games of the Xth Olympiad

Note, however, that the official numbering of the Winter Olympics does not count Olympiads—- it counts only the Games themselves. For example:

* The first Winter Games, in 1924 , were not designated as Winter Games of the VIII Olympiad, but as the I Winter Olympic Games. * The 1936 Summer Games were the Games of the XI Olympiad. After the 1940 and 1944 Summer Games were canceled due to World War II
World War II
, the Games resumed in 1948 as the Games of the XIV Olympiad. * However, the 1936 Winter Games were the IV Winter Olympic Games, and the resumption of the Winter Games in 1948 was designated the V Winter Olympic Games.

Some media people have from time to time referred to a particular (e.g., the nth) Winter Olympics as "the Games of the nth Winter Olympiad", perhaps believing it to be the correct formal name for the Winter Games by analogy with that of the Summer Games. Indeed, at least one IOC-published article has applied this nomenclature as well. This analogy is sometimes extended further by media references to "Summer Olympiads". However, the IOC does not seem to make an official distinction between Olympiads for the summer and winter games, and such usage particularly for the Winter Olympics is not consistent with the numbering discussed above.


The U.S. Olympic Committee often uses the term quadrennium, which it claims refers to the same four-year period. However, it indicates these quadrennia in calendar years, starting with the first year after the Summer Olympics
Summer Olympics
and ending with the year the next Olympics are held. This would suggest a more precise period of four years, but the 2001–2004 Quadrennium would then not be exactly the same period as the XXVIIth Olympiad


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See also: Art competitions at the Summer Olympics
Summer Olympics

A Cultural Olympiad
is a concept protected by the International Olympic Committee and may be used only within the limits defined by an Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games. From one Games to the next, the scale of the Cultural Olympiad
varies considerably, sometimes involving activity over the entire Olympiad
and other times emphasizing specific periods within it. Baron Pierre de Coubertin established the principle of Olympic Art Competitions at a special congress in Paris in 1906, and the first official programme was presented during the 1912 Games in Stockholm. These competitions were also named the ‘Pentathlon of the Muses’, as their purpose was to bring artists to present their work and compete for ‘art’ medals across five categories: architecture, music, literature, sculpture and painting.

Nowadays, while there are no competitions as such, cultural and artistic practice is displayed via the Cultural Olympiad. The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver presented the Cultural Olympiad
Digital Edition . The 2012 Olympics included an extensive Cultural Olympiad with the London 2012 Festival in the host city, and events elsewhere including the World Shakespeare Festival
World Shakespeare Festival
produced by the RSC . The 2016 games\' Cultural Olympiad
was scaled back due to Brazil\'s recession ; there was no published programme, with director Carla Camurati promising "secret" and "spontaneous" events such as flash mobs .


The English term is still often used popularly to indicate the games themselves, a usage that is uncommon in ancient Greek (as an Olympiad is most often the time period between and including sets of games). It is also used to indicate international competitions other than physical sports . This includes international science olympiads , such as the International Geography Olympiad , International Mathematical Olympiad
and the International Linguistics Olympiad and their associated national qualifying tests (e.g., the United States of America Mathematical Olympiad
or the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad
), and also events in mind-sports, such as the Science Olympiad
Science Olympiad
, Mindsport Olympiad
, Chess Olympiad
Chess Olympiad
and Computer Olympiad
. In these cases Olympiad
is used to indicate a regular event of international competition; it does not necessarily indicate a four-year period.

In some languages, like Czech and Slovak , Olympiad
(Czech : olympiáda) is the correct term for the games.

The Olympiad
(L\'Olimpiade ) is also the name of some 60 operas set in Ancient Greece.


* ^ Bickerman 1980 , p. 75. * ^ Bickerman 1980 , p. 88. * ^ Photius, Bibliotheca, Terlullian, p. 97 . * ^ Eusebius, Chronicle, Attalus, p. 193 . * ^ Thucydides, 3.8.1 History of the Peloponnesian War Check url= value (help ), Tufts . * ^ of Halicarnassus, Dionysius, Roman Antiquities, University of Chicago, 1.75 . * ^ Siculus, Diodorus, Historical Library, University of Chicago, 11.1.2 . * ^ Jerome, Chronological Tables, Attalus, year 2015 . * ^ Olympic Charter
Olympic Charter
- Bye-law to Rule 6 * ^ Team USA: Olympic Games Chronology. * ^ Kendall, Nigel (2011-04-08). "Community Spirit". International Olympic Committee . Retrieved 2011-06-22. The XXI Winter Olympiad
was to be the first 'social media Games'. * ^ USOC Quadrennial Congressional Report, June 2009. * ^ " World Shakespeare Festival
World Shakespeare Festival
tickets go on public sale". BBC Online . 10 October 2011. Retrieved 15 August 2017. * ^ Lang, Kirsty (29 July 2016). "Rio 2016: The \'secret\' Cultural Olympiad". BBC Online
BBC Online
. Retrieved 15 August 2017. * ^ Liddell, Scott, and Jones, A Greek-English Lexicon, s.v. Ὀλυμπιάς, A. II. 1


* Bickerman, Elias J (1980), Chronology
of the Ancient World (Aspects of Greek & Roman Life) (2nd sub ed.), Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, ISBN 0-8014-1282-X


* "Olympiad".