The Romanian landowner Evanghelie Zappa initiated the modern Olympic Games before Pierre de Coubertin, as early as 1859, reads daily Adevarul.
Quite forgotten today, he is an important financial contributor to the setting up of the Romanian Academy in the 19th century and should constantly be mentioned together with Pierre de Coubertin as founder of the modern Olympic Games, which he started organizing in Athens in 1859 and used his own money for this purpose.
Zappa was born in 1800 at Lamporo, the region of the Northern Epirus, Albania, in a family of Macedonian, Albanian and Greek extraction. He got the Romanian citizenship in 1844 and settled down definitely in a village in southern Romania, where he bought some property. In the years to come he bought land, woods, lakes and built mills, storehouses and spirits plants.
Adevarul daily informs that Evanghelie Zappa made his financial contribution to the setting up of the Literary Society, which was later to become the Romanian Academy, by giving Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza a donation amounting to 3,000 gold pieces in February 1860.
Of this sum of money 2,000 gold pieces were meant to help compile a Romanian dictionary, 200 for a grammar book and 800 for making some translations from classical authors, to which he will also add another 2,000 gold pieces for making his contribution to the fund for the literary and scientific prizes, donations that will make up the Zappa Fund as a literary fund.
In early 1856 Evanghelie Zappa from Bucharest sent Othon, King of Greece, and the Greek Government the proposal to institute again the Olympic Games in Athens, assuring them that he will offer the necessary funds both for the organization expenses and for building some sports edifices.
As Zappa’s proposal did not materialize, he submitted a new petition to the King and made a clear offer:
he will give 400 shares he had in the Greek Company of Ships and will donate 3,000 gold pieces for founding the Institution of the Olympic Games in Athens, the Olympic Games should he held every four years starting in 1859 and an exhibition and cultural and sports complex should be built.
As his offer was accepted, the first modern Olympic Games, which were held in keeping with Zappa’s plan, were opened on November 15, 1859, the Royal Family, the Government and other personalities at that time attending. But the change of the Kings in Greece (Othon was followed by George) and the unfavourable international context made people not observe the periodical character of the Olympic Games, reads newspaper Adevarul.
The next two Zappa Olympic Games were held in 1875 and 1889, the last one also being under the sign of the inauguration, on October 20, 1888, in Athens, of the imposing Zappeion, a huge exhibition complex devoted to Olympic events and built with the funds offered by Evanghelie Zappa. As he died in 1865 he did not live to see the great building.
Somehow unjustly history only records Baron Pierre de Coubertin as father of the idea of resuming the Olympic Games, when, during a lecture he gave in Paris, he proposed that the city of Athens should be the host of the Olympic Games in 1896, also reads Adevarul newspaper.