1st day of the Games

March 25, 1896

The first day of the games was the 25th of March, the day of the Greek national celebration. The movements of the crowds was indescribable, from the early hours in Stadium and Hermes Streets and in Constitution Square, all of them festively decorated. At every moment the cheerful sounds of the various philharmonic bands, from Zakynthus, Leukas, Laurius, Patras etc. echoed everywhere. The visit of the Royal Family with their foreign guests and their retinue to the Metropolitan Cathedral for the doxology, and their return was made triumphantly midst the most enthusiastic cheers.

The crowds, however, were most excited of the inauguration of the International Olympic Games in the Stadium. All hasten from early morning to procure tickets. The sellers of tickets in the roads are surrounded by thick and noisy throngs. All hustle and vie to obtain the best possible seats, while the police supervise them to see that black market prices are not asked.

Immediately after noon the endless trek to the stadium starts. From all sides of the city dense crowds of citizens set out, of all classes, all ages and both sexes. The density of the crowd around the neighbourhood of the Zappeion is indescribable. Order, however, is maintained excellently. In the interior of the Stadium, order, is kept by armed soldiers placed at distances in front of the stairs leading to the tiers.

The crowds enter long before the starting hour at 3.30 p.m., the major part of the stadium had been filled by the spectators. One tier close to the sphendone has been kept for the Members of the Parliament. Another has been kept for the officers, while another for the officially invited guests and for the press representatives. The sight is magnificent; the variegated dresses of the ladies, their millinery and the movement of the flags in the midst of the black masses of tens of thousands of spectators, the resplendent uniforms and the plumes of the officers, the waving flags, the thick belt of spectators without tickets, who are perched on the summit of the surrounding small hills over the stone wall, all compose a peculiar and imposing sight.

The decoration of the Stadium is exceptional. At the entrance very tall masts have been erected and on them are hung standards and escutcheons (coat of arms), and on each side a replica of ancient tripods. The members of the various committees are gathered on the track of the arena, as also the curators and other officials. After that the various bands make their entrance, playing, and taking their places.

The Royal Family seat on the royal marble thrones with porphyry coloured coverings and greet those present. To the right the cabinet ministers are seated, the members of the Holy Synod, and the foreign clergy in Athens. To the left is the diplomatic corps, the royal retinue, the foreign representatives etc.

Then the Crown Prince advances towards the King with full respect and delivers a speech while all the public rises. The King then arose and with a sonorous voice answered:

"I declare the opening of the first International Olympic Games in Athens. Long live the Nation! Long live the Greek People!"

He raised his right hand. Immediately thunderous cheers arose from all the vast space answering the royal words.

The 100 Metres Race
The curiosity of the public is at its highest pitch. The contest was a trial. The first and seconds of each heat will compete in the final race on the Fifth day of the Games.

The Hop, Step and Jump
This event, familiar to the customs of the Greek people, excites a greater interest. The winner is the American Connolly.

The 800 Metres Race
This is also a trial race. The athletes are divided into two heats. The winners are the Australian Flack and the Frenchman Lermusiaux.

Throwing the Discus
Above all this event has an international character owing to the variety of the nationalities of those taking part. The winner is the American Garrett. 400 metres race

400 Metres Race
The contestants, sixteen in number, are divided into two heats. The winners are the American Jameson and Burke.

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