From Academic Kids

An Olympiad is a period of four years between two celebrations of the Olympic Games. An occurrence of the Summer or Winter Olympic Games is often commonly called an Olympiad.


Ancient Olympics

For the ancient Olympics, the Olympiad was a period of four years starting with the games at Olympia. By modern reckoning, the first recorded Olympiad started in the year 776 BC.


As from 776 BC Olympic Games were presumably held without fail, Greek historians used 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. Nevertheless, since for events in the early history of the games the reckoning was used in retrospect, even though Greek historians gave them dates later, it is not clear which events occurred during which Olympiad.

Start of the Olympiad

An Olympiad started with the games, which were held at the beginning of the Olympic new year, which fell on the full moon closest to the summer solstice. (After the introduction of the Metonic cycle about 432 BC, the start of the Olympic year was determined slightly differently.)


Though Olympic games were held before Coroebus, his is the first Olympiad recorded. Therefore the reckoning in Olympiads starts in 776 BC. In the third century AD the games had dwindled to the point where historians are not certain whether after 261 they were still held every four years. Some winners are recorded though, until the last olympiad in 393. In 394, Roman Emperor 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 fifth century AD reckoning in Olympiads had fallen into disuse.


  • 776 BC First year of the First Olympiad.
  • 775 BC Second year of the First Olympiad.
  • 774 BC Third year of the First Olympiad.
  • 773 BC Fourth year of the First Olympiad.
  • 772 BC First year of the Second Olympiad.
  • 771 BC Second year of the Second Olympiad.


  • 1 BC 4th year of the 194th Olympiad.
  • 1 1st year of the 195th Olympiad.
  • 2 2nd year of the 195th Olympiad.


  • 393 1st year of the 293rd Olympiad.
  • 394 2nd year of the 293rd Olympiad.

By extrapolation:


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

Modern Olympics

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

Start and End

The modern Olympiad starts with the celebration of the Olympiad. This are the Summer Olympics, more correctly indicated as the Games of the Olympiad. The first poster to announce the games using this term was the one for the 1932 Summer Olympics, in Los Angeles, which included the text: Call to the Games of the Xth Olympiad.

An Olympiad normally ends with the opening of the games of the next Olympiad, which may be slightly less or slightly more than four years. If for some reason the next Olympiad is not celebrated, the olympiad expires exactly four years after its beginning, after which the new Olympiad commences.


The United States Olympic Committee often uses the term quadrennium, which it claims refers to the same four-year period. However, it indicates these quadrenniums in calendar years, starting with the first year after the Summer Olympics end 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 the exact same period as the XXVIIth Olympiad.

Cultural Olympiad

A celebration known as the Cultural Olympiad was established to include all cultural events of the Olympic Movement. This Olympiad is a period most recently held in Athens from 2001-2004, where artists from around the world come and exhibit their art.

Other uses

Outside the IOC the term is still often used to indicate the games themselves. It is also used to indicate international competitions in fields other than physical sports. This includes scientific competitions, such as the International Mathematical Olympiad and the International Olympiad in Informatics, but also events in mindsports, such as the Mindsport 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.da:Olympiade fr:Olympiade es:Olimpiada gl:Olimpada it:Olimpiade pl:Olimpiada pt:Olimpada ru:Олимпиада (хронология)


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