Ancient Olympic Games
Let’s start from the beginning. The first ancient Olympic Games were held in Olympia in Greece in 776 BC. The Olympic Games were held each four years. Obviously, there were no ice hockey. In the year 393 AD, the emperor Theodosius I banned the Olympic Games a as pagan cult and for more than 15 centuries the Olympic Games disappeared.
Modern Olympic Games
International Olympic Committee was founded by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894. The first Summer Olympics were held in Athens (Greece) from April 6 to 15, 1896 (see the photo of Opening Ceremony on the left side). 241 male athletes from 14 nations competed in 9 sports. Ice hockey was not among them.
Ice Hockey on Olympic Games
Winter sports week, including ice hockey, was planned for Games of the VI Olympiad in 1916. Due to the World War I, this Olympic Games were cancelled and ice hockey had to wait for its debut.
Games of the VII Olympiad were held in Antwerp, Belgium (1920). 2 626 athletes form 29 nations competed in 22 sports. One of these sports was ice hockey. We just remind that it was in the Summer Olympic Games.
There were only six teams – Canada, Czechoslovakia, USA, Switzerland, Sweden and Belgium. The final standing was:
- Gold medal – Canada (represented by Winnipeg Falcons)
- Silver medal – USA
- Bronze medal – Czechoslovakia
Later, in the year 1982, IIHF decided that this tournament will be also considered as the First Ice Hockey World Championship.
Olympic Winter Games
The first Winter Olympics were held in the year 1924, in Chamonix, France. Both, Summer and Winter Olympics, were held in the same year but as a separated events. There were 256 athletes from 16 nation and they competed in 9 sports, including ice hockey.
There were eight teams – Canada, Czechoslovakia, USA, Switzerland, Sweden, Great Britain, France and Belgium. The final standing was:
- Gold medal – Canada (represented by Toronto Granites)
- Silver medal – USA
- Bronze medal – Great Britain
Again, ice hockey tournament played on the Olympic Games is considered as a Ice Hockey World Championship.
The best three teams in the history are:
- Canada (8 gold medals)
- Russia (8 gold medals) and
- USA (2 gold medals).
We have to mention IV Olympic Winter Games. These games were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany and the winner of the ice hockey tournament was Great Britain, i.e., team that is nowadays participant of the Division I of the World Championship. Thanks to this victory, Great Britain was automatically World Champion and European Champion (there was no separate tournament in the year when Olympic tournament was held, i.e., winner of the Olympic tournament is considered as a European and World champion, more information in Ice Hockey World Championship).