A multi-sport event is an competition in which athletes compete in a number of different sports.
The first modern multi-sport event organised were the Olympic Games, organised by the International Olympic Committee (est. 1894) for the first time in 1896 in Athens, Greece. After some badly organised celebrations (1900, 1904), the Olympics became very popular. The number of sports, initially only a few, is still growing.
At the beginning of the 20th century, another multi-sport event, the Nordic Games were first held. These Games were held in Scandinavia, and the sports conducted were winter sports such as cross country skiing and speed skating. The Nordic Games were last held in 1926, after which the 1924 Winter Sports Week in Chamonix was declared the first Olympic Winter Games.
In the 1920s, all kinds of other multi-sport events were set up. These were usually directed for a selected group of athletes, rather than everybody, which was - basically - the case with the Olympic Games. The Soviets organised the first Spartakiade in 1920, a communist alternative to the 'bourgeois' Olympic Games, and in 1922 the University Olympia was organised in Italy, the forerunner of the World University Games, meant for students only. Regional Games were another kind of multi-sport event that was established, such as the Far East Championships or the Central American Games.
The Olympic Games are still the largest multi-sport event in the world, but several others also have significance. These are:
- Commonwealth Games, held first in 1930 (although similar games in 1911) for all nations from the British Commonwealth
- Pan-American Games, held first in 1951, for all nations of the Americas
- Asian Games, held first in 1951, for all Asian nations
- Goodwill Games, held first in 1986, held as an alternative after the boycotted Olympics of 1980 and 1984.
- World University Games, held first in 1923, also called Universiade.
- World Games, held first in 1981, stage many sports (though not all) that are not Olympic sports. The World Games is therefore sometimes also unofficially called Olympics for non-Olympic sports. (They cannot be called "Olympic" games without infringing on the Olympic committees' trademarks.)