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The Institution of the Olympia
The needs of the Greek people and the realistic assessment of the financial and political state of the country guided the steps of those who organized the Zappeian Olympiads. The initial tendency of attaching greater importance to the exhibitions of products gradually declined, and other parameters, those of cultural and athletic activities, were cultivated.
The First Olympia (1859) leaned toward economic development, the second promoted the slogan of developing education (1870). The Third Olympia (1875) was directly influenced by the political turmoil in Greece at that period. Through the methodical organization and planning by the Olympia and Bequests Committee, a broad network of local and municipal Olympic committees was created at that time, which disseminated the institution to all the provinces in the country and abroad. The endless discussions, the professional rivalries and the delays in completing the Zappeion Exhibition Hall created a gap of 13 years between the Third and Fourth Zappeian Olympiads.
The coincidence of the celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of George I’s reign with the last Olympia, even though the anniversary celebrations overshadowed the latter’s events, created an unprecedented atmosphere of exhilaration and enthusiasm in the capital. Contributing to this spirit was the most significant art exhibition to date, which was part of the cultural contests.