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In the beginning, Olympic competition was Eurocentric

The Olympic Summer Games, which opened Friday in Beijing, are surely the world's most ambitious international event, with a record 204 countries sending roughly more than 10,000 athletes – not to mention referees, judges, trainers, coaches, and support staff – to participate over the next two weeks. This is a far cry from the decidedly more modest first modern Olympics in 1896, a mostly parochial, Western European affair held in Athens, with 245 athletes (all of them men) from 14 countries. Only five of those countries (designated below by asterisks) have never missed a summer Olympics. The nations that attended the inaugural Games:

Greece *
United States
Germany
France *
Britain *
Denmark
Hungary
Austria
Switzerland *
Australia *
Sweden
Italy
Bulgaria
Chile

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