A multi-sport event is an organized sporting event, often held over multiple days, featuring competition in many different sports among organized teams of athletes from (mostly) nation-states. The first major, modern, multi-sport event of international significance was the Olympic Games, first held in modern times in 1896 in Athens, Greece and inspired by the Ancient Olympic Games, one of a number of such events held in antiquity. Most modern multi-sports events have the same basic structure. Games are held over the course of several days in and around a "host city", which changes for each competition. Countries send national teams to each competition, consisting of individual athletes and teams that compete in a wide variety of sports. Athletes or teams are awarded gold, silver or bronze medals for first, second and third place respectively. Each games are generally held every four years, though some are annual competitions.
The Ancient Olympic Games, first held in 776 BC, was the precursor to the Modern Olympic Games, although its first edition only featured a footrace and the number of sporting competitions expanded at later editions.
There were several other "games" held in Europe in the classical era:
Other multi-sport festivals emerged in the Middle Ages in Europe, including the Cotswold Olimpick Games in England in the 1600s, the Highland Games in Scotland, and the Olympiade de la République in France in the 1800s.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, athletes at multi-sport events were almost exclusively male. As international women's sport began to develop, events such as the Women's World Games and Olympics of Grace were held to allow women to engage in sport on the international stage. Though short-lived, events such as these led to greater inclusion of women at multi-sport events over the course of the 20th century.
Since the establishment of the Olympics, most serial multi-sport events have been organized for specific audiences and participating countries or communities. These affiliations include:
The first modern multi-sport event organised were the Olympic Games, organised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) (est. 1894) for the first time in 1896 in Athens, Greece. After some celebrations (1900, 1904), the Olympics became very popular nowadays. The number of sports, initially only a few, is still growing.
The Paralympic Games is the largest multi-sport event involving athletes with physical disabilities and is organized by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC). Arranged for the first time in 1960 in Rome, Italy. The number of sports, initially only a few, is still growing.
The first Special Olympics International Summer Games were held in Chicago, Illinois, in 1968. The most recent Special Olympics World Winter Games in Schladming, Austria involved 25 sports and approximately 2,277 athletes from 133 countries.
At the beginning of the 20th century, another multi-sport event, the Nordic Games were first held. These Games were held in Scandinavia, and the sports conducted were winter sports such as cross-country skiing and speed skating. The Nordic Games were last held in 1926, after which the 1924 Winter Sports Week in Chamonix was declared the first Olympic Winter Games. In the 1920s, all kinds of other multi-sport events were set up. These were usually directed for a selected group of athletes, rather than everybody, which was basically the case with the Olympic Games. The Soviets organized the first Spartakiad in 1920, a communist alternative to the 'bourgeois' Olympic Games, and in 1922 the University Olympia was organizedor in Italy, the forerunner of the World University Games, meant for students only. Regional games were another kind of multi-sport event that was established, such as the Far Eastern Championship Games (1913), the Central American and Caribbean Games (1926) or the Pan American Games (1951).
The Olympic Games are still the largest multi-sport event in the world in terms of worldwide interest and importance (though no longer in participation), but several others also have significance.
Other Games are intended for handicapped or disabled athletes. The International Silent Games, first held in Paris in 1924, were the first Games for deaf athletes. The Stoke Mandeville Wheelchair Games, K incepted in 1948 in England, were the first Games for wheelchair athletes. In 1960, the first Paralympic Games were held, connected with the Olympic Games. The Special Olympics World Games, for athletes with intellectual disabilities, were first held in 1968.
The Commonwealth Games is an international multi-sport event involving athletes from the Commonwealth of Nations. The event was first held in 1930, and, with the exception of 1942 and 1946, has taken place every four years since then. The Commonwealth Games were known as the British Empire Games from 1930 to 1950, the British Empire and Commonwealth Games from 1954 to 1966, and British Commonwealth Games from 1970 to 1974. Athletes with a disability are also included as full members of their national teams, making the Commonwealth Games the first fully inclusive international multi-sport event. It is also the world's first multi-sport event which inducts equal number of women's and men's medal events and was implemented recently in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. With such unique features, the World Economic Forum called the event inspiring and significant.
The 1956 Winter Olympics officially known as the VII Olympic Winter Games, was a multi-sport event held in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, from 26 January to 5 February 1956.
The Pan American Games is a continental multi-sport event in the Americas featuring summer sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The competition is held among athletes from nations of the Americas, every four years in the year before the Summer Olympic Games. The only Winter Pan American Games were held in 1990. In 2021, there will be a Junior Pan American Games for young athletes. The Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) is the governing body of the Pan American Games movement, whose structure and actions are defined by the Olympic Charter.
The Spartakiad was an international sports event that was sponsored by the Soviet Union. Five international Spartakiades were held from 1928 to 1937. Later Spartakiads were organized as national sport events of the Eastern Bloc countries. The games were organised by Red Sport International.
A National Olympic Committee (NOC) is a national constituent of the worldwide Olympic movement. Subject to the controls of the International Olympic Committee, NOCs are responsible for organizing their people's participation in the Olympic Games. They may nominate cities within their respective areas as candidates for future Olympic Games. NOCs also promote the development of athletes and training of coaches and officials at a national level within their geographies.
The Maccabiah Games, first held in 1932, are an international Jewish and Israeli multi-sport event now held quadrennially in Israel. It is the third-largest sporting event in the world, with 10,000 athletes competing. The Maccabiah Games were declared a "Regional Sports Event" by, and under the auspices and supervision of, the International Olympic Committee in 1961.
The Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG) is an international multi-sport event organized by the Commonwealth Games Federation. The games are held every four years with the current Commonwealth Games format. The first version was held in Edinburgh, Scotland from 10 to 14 August 2000. The age limitation of the athletes is 14 to 18.
The African Games, formally known as the All-Africa Games or the Pan African Games, are a continental multi-sport event held every four years, organized by the African Union (AU) with the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) and the Association of African Sports Confederations (AASC).
The 1958 Asian Games, officially the Third Asian Games and commonly known as Tokyo 1958, was a multi-sport event held in Tokyo, Japan, from 24 May to 1 June 1958. It was governed by the Asian Games Federation. A total of 1,820 athletes representing 20 Asian National Olympic Committees (NOCs) participated in the Games. The program featured competitions in 13 different sports encompassing 97 events, including four non-Olympic sports, judo, table tennis, tennis and volleyball. Four of these competition sports – field hockey, table tennis, tennis and volleyball – were introduced for the first time in the Asian Games.
The 1962 Asian Games also known as the 4th Asian Games, IV Asiad, and Jakarta 1962, was the fourth edition of pan-Asian multi-sport event sanctioned by the Asian Games Federation (AGF). The games were held from 24 August to 4 September 1962, in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was the first international multi-sport event hosted by the then-17 year old Southeast Asian country. This was the first of two Asian Games hosted by the city as of 2018, the second was held in 2018, with Palembang as the co-host.
The Pan American Sports Organization is an international organization which represents the current 41 National Olympic Committees of the Americas.
India is a member of the South Asian Zone of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), and has participated in the Asian Games since their inception in 1951. The Indian Olympic Association, established in 1927, and recognised in the same year by the International Olympic Committee, is the National Olympic Committee for India.
Afghanistan is a member of the South Asian Zone of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), and has participated in the Asian Games since their inception in 1951. The Afghanistan National Olympic Committee, established in 1935 and recognised by the International Olympic Committee in 1936, is the National Olympic Committee for Afghanistan.
Myanmar is a member of the Southeast Asian Zone of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), and has participated in the Asian Games since the inception of the Games in 1951. The Myanmar Olympic Committee, established in 1947 and recognised in the same year by the International Olympic Committee, is the National Olympic Committee for Myanmar.
Pakistan is a member of the South Asian Zone of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), has participated in the Asian Games since their second edition in 1954. The Pakistan Olympic Association, established in 1948, and recognised in the same year by the International Olympic Committee, is the National Olympic Committee for Pakistan.
The European Games is a continental multi-sport event in the Olympic tradition contested by athletes from European nations and several transcontinental countries. The Games were envisioned and are governed by the European Olympic Committees (EOC), which announced their launch at its 41st General Assembly in Rome, on 8 December 2012.
International Workers' Olympiads were an international sporting event arranged between 1925 and 1937 by Socialist Workers' Sport International (SASI). It was an organisation supported by social democratic parties and International Federation of Trade Unions. Workers' Olympiads were an alternate event for the Olympic Games. The participants were members of various labor sports associations and came mostly from Europe. Nowadays the CSIT World Sports Games are the successor sports events of the International Workers' Olympiads. The "World Sports Games" is the main highlight and a new brand of the International Workers and Amateurs in Sports Confederation (CSIT). It is a sports event for thousands of workers and amateurs held every two years. The CSIT is an international multi-sports organization.
The History of the Maccabiah, a quadrennial International Jewish multi-sport event, dates back to 1912 and the Games of the V Olympiad.