The Olympic Games was inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, held in Olympia, Greece from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD. Baron Pierre de Coubertin founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1894, leading to the first modern Games in Athens in 1896. The IOC is the governing body of the Olympic Movement, with the Olympic Charter defining its structure and authority. The first Games held under the auspices of the IOC was hosted in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens in 1896. The Games brought together 14 nations and 241 athletes who competed in 43 events.

Throughout its long history, the Olympic Games has survived many pivotal moments in history. From World War I, to the Spanish flu, Olympic prompt mass gatherings for people all around the world, but it also increases the chances of risking infectious disease. Unsuspecting visitors might unknowingly bring viral souvenirs to their home countries. In order to manage the risk, all Olympic host cities must have a public health plan.

The Spanish Flu, 1920

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Not the Only Pandemic the Olympic Battle
The Spanish Flu, 1920.

The 1920 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the VII Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium. The 1916 Summer Olympics, to have been held in Berlin, capital of the German Empire, were cancelled due to World War I. When the Olympic Games resumed after the war, Antwerp was awarded hosting the 1920 Summer Games as tribute to the Belgian people. Millions of people had died from the Spanish flu and prior to that World War I had just ended. Belgium was suffering from food shortages and the country could not afford a pool so officials set up a wooden frame in a canal to host the swimming competitions. Despite the less than desirable conditions, the Games went on without any major problems or outbreaks — they were seen as a symbol of hope and unity in the post-war, post-pandemic world.

Zika Virus, 2016

The Coronavirus Pandemic Is Not the Only Pandemic the Olympic Battle
Zika Virus, 2016.

The 2016 Summer Olympics is officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad and commonly known as Rio 2016, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with preliminary events in some sports beginning on 3 August. Rio was announced as the host city at the 121st IOC Session in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 2 October 2009. At that time, before the Games was set to begin, the main topic of the conversation has been about Zika virus, a mosquito-borne disease transmitted through the bite of an infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito. This creates fears regarding its potential impact on athletes and visitors. To prevent puddles of stagnant water that allow mosquitoes to breed, organizers announced plans to perform daily inspections of Olympic venues. Zika virus transmission was also attributed to inefficient sewage treatment in the area, an issue that was also addressed for the Games. Some athletes did not attend the Games because of the epidemic. On 2 September 2016, however, the World Health Organization reported that there were no confirmed cases of Zika among athletes or visitors during the 2016 Olympics.