Difference Between Olympics and Olympiad

The Olympic Games is a widely hailed international event with hundreds of nations participating and a multitude of sporting events. Both Olympics and Olympiads are terms related to it.

Ancient Greece marked the origin of the Olympics. After the Roman conquest, the revival of the Olympics happened in 1896 with the establishment of the International Olympic Committee.

Olympics vs Olympiad

The main difference between the Olympics and Olympiad is that the Olympics is an international sporting event. But Olympiad is a reference to the period between the Olympic Games. The ancient Greeks held sporting events that involved many city-states. Both the Olympics and the Olympiad have their origin in Greece. It was recognized by the International Olympic Committee.

Olympics vs Olympiad

The Olympics is a competition in the field of sports. There are two major games; the summer Olympics and the Winter Olympics. There are 35 Olympic sports.

Later Paralympic games have culminated in Olympics. Women were not allowed to participate until 1900. The Olympic flame is lit before and throughout the games.

Olympiad is the gap between two consecutive Olympic games. The modern-day Olympiad started in the year 1896. Although the first poster that introduced the term was produced in 1932 for the Summer Olympics.

It is only used to mark the period between the Summer Olympics. In ancient Greece, it was used to denote time.

Comparison Table Between Olympics and Olympiad

Parameters of ComparisonOlympicsOlympiad
MeaningAn international sporting eventThe period between two Olympics
Time spanAbout a monthFour years
Games InvolvedSummer and Winter Olympic GamesSummer Olympic Games
OriginIntroduced to honor the god ZeusDeveloped to track time
EventsSports events with opening and closing ceremoniesCultural events and other challenges

What is Olympics?

The Olympic games are considered the world’s foremost sports competition. It has its origin in ancient Greece. The classical games had prominence in Greece during the sixth century BCE.

The Olympic games were conducted every four years in August and September. It was held for honoring the Greek god Zeus. Legends say that the games were founded by Heracles.

The events were added subsequently with time. In ancient Olympics, women were not allowed to participate. The modern Olympics was created by people like Pierre, baron de Coubertin.

The International Olympic Committee came into force by 1894. Since then, the IOC has maintained and organized the Olympic Games.

The Olympic games are widely known as the Olympics. It has summer and winter sports competitions for which athletes around the world gather. More than 200 nations participate in the Olympic games.

It is usually held every four years, with the summer and winter Olympics every two years. Several changes occurred in the 20th and 21st centuries, like the establishment of the Paralympic Games, the Youth Olympic Games, and the World Games.

The advancements in technologies and the provisions of sponsorships lead to the commercialization of the games. The first world war and the cold war resulted in the cancellation and limited participation in the games.

 The IOC chooses the host city for each Olympic game. The organization and funding are also monitored by the committee according to the charter.

There are rituals and ceremonies in the Olympics. The opening and closing ceremonies, the Olympic torch, and the flag are all part of the games.

Over 400 events are conducted, and the winners are given Olympic medals. The host country can present itself to the world in the Olympics.

What is Olympiad?

Olympiad is a term related to the ancient Olympic games. They named years after the Olympic winners and important magistrates before the Olympiad system was introduced.

The ancient Greek people numbered the years from one to four and denoted such a set as an Olympiad. Aristotle is known to introduce Olympiads for tracking time easily.

The first year of the initial Olympiad was 776 BC. It was prevalent till the conquest of Greece by the Roman Empire.

After the revival of the Olympics and the setting up of the IOC, the term Olympiad came back in use. It is used to refer to the tenure between the Olympic games.

The gap is usually four years. The summer Olympic games are taken into consideration with the Olympiad system. As per the modern system, the Olympiad starts on the first of January and lasts till 31st December of the fourth year. 

Each Olympiad expires after the given four years, even if it is not celebrated. The Cultural Olympiad was introduced later to inculcate cultural events in the games.

It was during the Olympiad that spanned from 2001 to 2004. Various artists took part in it and exhibited their art.

Main Differences Between Olympics and Olympiad

  1. Olympics is a sporting event, while Olympiad refers to a period.
  2. Olympics lasts for about a month, but an Olympiad lasts for four years.
  3. The Olympic Games include both the summer and winter Olympics whereas, an Olympiad is only associated with the summer Olympics. 
  4. Olympics involves sports events for various groups of people. Olympiad incorporates events to exhibit cultural events or other challenges.
  5. Olympic games were introduced to honor the Greek God Zeus, while Olympiad was developed to keep track of time.


The Olympic Games and the Olympiad are both important terms in the modern day. With global participation, the Olympics is regarded as the greatest sporting event.

It is usually held within an Olympiad that spans four years. It has varied ceremonies that denote the cultural and historical events of the host country as well as its participants.

The winners of each event are awarded Olympic medals according to their position. The first prize is the gold medal, the second is awarded a silver medal and a bronze medal for the third.

The Olympic symbol consists of five Olympic rings that represent the five continents.


  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=TbLmQQG-2bQC&oi=fnd&pg=PP11&dq=olympics+games&ots=Mor5dm7L_R&sig=FXJYWrnxDPUgPLcrv5V1aZ2ZZK0
  2. https://search.proquest.com/openview/4d2d20f93466dd9e38ef39957fd56d20/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y
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