Despite tragedy just hours before the opening ceremonies of the 21st Olympic Games; tradition carried on in Vancouver, Canada.

The first Olympic Games can be traced back as far as 776 B.C. They were dedicated to the Olympian gods but banned in 393 A.D. when Emperor Theodosius prohibited all pagan cults.

The first Olympic Games were held at Olympia which functioned as a meeting place for religious and political practices. The site of Olympia remained until it was destroyed by an earthquake in the sixth century A.D.

Regardless of social class, all free male Greek citizens were allowed to participate. Unlike today, women were not only not allowed to participate; but married women were not even allowed to attend.

Events that took place were running, the long jump, shot put, javelin, boxing and equestrian events. A combination of wrestling and boxing, called pankration, was also an event during the early days of the Olympic Games. The events only took one day until 684 B.C. when they were extended to three days and eventually five.

The International Olympic Committee was created on June 23, 1894 after a declaration from Baron Pierre de Coubertein that the Olympic Games would be re-established. Two years later, under the presidency of Grecian Dimetrius Vikelas the first Olympic Games in the modern era occurred in Athens, Greece. The IOC, with affiliate organizations such as the Committee for Fair Play and the World Olympian Association, is the supreme authority of the Olympic Movement.

Today, the Olympics take place over a span of two weeks with 33 sports including both the summer and winter games.

Whether you are a dedicated Olympic fan rooting every night in front of the television for your favorite athlete or just watch the highlights so you are not left out at the water cooler; the Olympics, much like national holidays, is a brief time in history that unites us all and ignites a sense of pride in one’s country.