An Olympiad ( from the root word Ὀλυμπιάδ - Olympiad of the Greek noun Ὀλυμπιάς Olympias " Olympiad ", " period between two Olympic Games ", the root word is not recognizable in the nominative, but for example in the genitive Ὀλυμπιάδος Olympiados ) is a period of four years. It begins in the year in which the Olympic Games are held.


The first Olympic Games were in Olympia, according to tradition in ancient Greece held in the year 776 BC. With this year begin the winners lists. It is the starting point of the classical Greek era. The counting of the Olympics but was first introduced by historian Timaeus of Tauromenion who lived in the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. Only then began the dating of events in Olympiads, and the Olympics bill became the basis of Greek chronology.

Modern Times

1896 began the first Olympics of the modern era in Athens. The International Olympic Committee defines the Olympics than the period of four years, commencing on 1 January of the year of the Summer Games. The first Olympic Games of the modern era thus began on January 1, 1896, the XXX. Olympics of the modern era 1 January 2012, the year the 2012 Summer Olympics, which therefore also officially the games ( to celebrate ) the XXX. Olympics were called. The Olympiads are numbered with Roman numerals.

The era in Olympiads is regardless of whether the games are taking place or not. The 1936 Summer Olympic Games were the Games of the XI. Olympics. After no games were played because of World War II in 1940 and 1944, the custom was recorded in 1948 with the games of the XIV Olympiad again.

The Winter Games are in contrast to the summer games consecutively numbered. The IV Olympic Winter Games were held in 1936, the Fifth Olympic Winter Games but not until 1948.


According to Herodotus, was used in his time already ( in the 5th century BC), the term not only for the four-year period, but also for the organization of the Olympic Games. This is also true for many languages ​​today. With the Olympics games are associated in German in the first place, while a distinction about in English between the period of the Olympiad and the Olympics event. In English and in other languages ​​, other competitions will receive the name, like chess Olympiad or German Mathematical Olympiad.


The terms " Olympiad ", " Olympia" and " olympic " are protected in Germany by the Olympic Protection Act. Any use outside the organized or approved by the IOC events may lead to claims for compensation. However, the constitutionality of the law by the district court of Darmstadt in an interim final judgment (case 14 O 744/ 04) has been questioned, creating a actual legal effect remains questionable.