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24 Incredible Pictures From Early Years Of The Olympics

"The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; the important thing in Life is not triumph, but the struggle." —Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the International Olympic Committee

Posted on February 9, 2018, at 11:17 a.m. ET

Eye Ubiquitous / Getty Images

Opening ceremony of the 1896 Olympic Games in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens.

Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

Women competitors in the archery event of the 1908 Summer Olympics in London.

Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images

An elephant performs at a garden party hosted for Olympic athletes by Britain's Lord Michelham in 1914.

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American track and field athlete Howard P. Drew on his way to the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm.

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The Danish women's gymnastics team practicing at the 1908 London Olympics.

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

American gymnasts practice their stunts in July 1924.

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

England defeats the United States during the tug of war event in 1920.

Topical Press Agency / Getty Images

The Irish and German national teams compete in the bicycle polo final during the 1908 Summer Olympics in London. The Irish team won 3–1.

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Isao Fujiki and Takeshi Kuyama, members of the Japanese team, train for the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.

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The commencement of the marathon during the 1908 Summer Olympics at Windsor Castle in London.

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

Actor Fay Wray and aviator Amelia Earhart attend the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles on Aug. 1, 1932.

Getty Images

Left: Olympic champion weightlifter Roger Francois in an undated photograph. Right: An unidentified Olympic woman fencer poses for a portrait, circa 1900.

Imagno / Getty Images

Wrestlers train for the Olympic games, circa 1930.

Harrison / Getty Images

A fleet of vans with their drivers pose for a portrait before transporting competitors between the various sporting events at the 1948 Summer Olympics in London.

Ullstein Bild Dtl. / Getty Images

A group of women compete in the 800-meter sprint in 1922.

Getty Images

Left: American swimmer Johnny Weissmuller prepares to compete in the the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. Right: Canadian athlete Ethel Catherwood poses for a photo after winning the women's high jump in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.

Interim Archives / Getty Images

Track and field star Percy Williams of Canada is treated by coach Bob Granger at the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam.

Keystone-france / Getty Images

Czechoslovak long-distance runner Emil Zátopek kisses his wife after winning during the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki.

George Rinhart / Getty Images

Mexican athletes pose for a photo before boarding their ship to participate in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Library Of Congress / Getty Images

Olympic gold medalist swimmer Duke Kahanamoku, fourth from left, stands with other swimmers in 1921.

Bettmann / Bettmann Archive

German bobsledders Andreas Ostler and Lorenz Nieberl share a kiss after they scored in the two-man bobsled event at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Oslo.

Hulton Deutsch / Getty Images

Young fans run along beside the American Olympic sprinter Jesse Owens as he takes his early morning run in London, 1936.


Andreas Ostler's and Jesse Owens' names were misspelled in an earlier version of this post.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.