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The Olympics began in Greece

Have you ever wondered why baseball and football are not part of the Olympic Games? The reason is quite simple.

These popular American sports are not played by very many other countries. To be included in the Olympic Games a sport has to be played by 25 or more nations.

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Today there are 24 sports in the summer Olympics. It wasn't always that way.

The first Olympics -- and the next 12 Olympic Games too -- had only one event. It was a sprint race, about 200 yards long.

The winner of the very first Olympics was a young cook named Coroebus of Eris in Greece. That was way back in 776 BC, or about 2,700 years ago.

The Olympic Games in olden times grew out of religious festivals. These festivals took place in several cities in ancient Greece. One of those festivals was at a place called Olympia. That's where the word Olympics comes from.

The Olympics were held every four years, just like the modern Olympics.

The games were held regularly for over 1,000 years. They stopped when the ancient Greek civilization came to an end. They started up again in 1896.

Since then the Olympic Games have grown, with more nations taking part and more sports included. And in 1924 the Winter Olympics was first held on its own.

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Each Olympics is held in a different city of the world. This time it will be in Moscow.

There could be far fewer countries taking part in this Olympics in Moscow, the capital of the Soviet Union. This is because the Soviet Union recently sent its soldiers into the neighboring country of Afghanistan and took it over. The Americans say that a country that is warlike should not be permitted to hold the Olympic Games, which stand for brotherhood and friendly competition among athletes.

Because of this President Carter has urged American athletes not to take part this summer. A lot of other countries feel the same way.

Some people are saying they feel it would be much better if future Olympic Games could be held in just one country -- in Greece where it all started thousands of years ago.


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