With the shadow of the London Olympics darkening the land, let's take a look back to the Intercalated Games that began in Athens on this day in 1906. No longer recognised as an official Olympiad, these games were part of a determined effort by Greece to hold on to the Olympics on a permanent basis, and they introduced several features that are all too recognisable in the modern games. Not the torch relay - that was a Nazi innovation - but, among others, the opening and closing ceremonies, and the Olympic Village (at the Zappeion). Ominously, the athletes for the first time paraded with their national flags, which were also hoisted to mark victories - and there was trouble. Having won Gold in the hop, step and jump and Silver in the long jump, Irishman Peter O'Connor protested against his inclusion in the British team by scaling the flagpole and substituting the Irish tricolor for the Union flag, while his Irish and American supporters kept guard.
However, the 1906 Games still had some of the charming features of the earlier Olympiads, with the standing jump a major event (the American Ray Ewry successfully defended his titles in the Standing High Jump and Standing Long Jump - high time these were revived) and the Stone Throw continuing alongside the newly introduced Javelin Throw. The Marathon was won unexpectedly by the Canadian Billy Shering, who had wisely spent two months acclimatising before the race. As Shering triumphantly entered the Panathinaiko stadium, Prince George leapt from his seat and joined him, in full fig, on the final lap. Somehow one can't envisage that kind of thing happening in 2012.
Nige, who, like Mr Kenneth Horne, prefers to remain anonymous, is a co-blogger on The Dabbler and the Bryan Appleyard Thought Experiments blog, the sole blogger on this one, and a wholly owned subsidiary of NigeCorp.