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Though it would have been possible to continue the reckoning by just counting four-year periods, by the middle of the 5th century AD reckoning by Olympiads had become disused.

For the modern Olympics the term was long used to indicate the games themselves, but the IOC now uses it to indicate a period of four years.

A modern Olympiad refers to a four-year period beginning January 1 of a year in which the Summer Olympics are due to occur.

The first modern Olympiad began in 1896, the second in 1900, and so on (the 31st began in 2016: see the Olympic Charter).

A Cultural Olympiad is a concept protected by the International Olympic Committee and may be used only within the limits defined by an Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games.

From one Games to the next, the scale of the Cultural Olympiad varies considerably, sometimes involving activity over the entire Olympiad and other times emphasizing specific periods within it.

The first poster to announce the games using this term was the one for the 1932 Summer Olympics, in Los Angeles, using the phrase: Call to the games of the Xth Olympiad Note, however, that the official numbering of the Winter Olympics does not count Olympiads—- it counts only the Games themselves.

For example: Some media people have from time to time referred to a particular (e.g., the nth) Winter Olympics as "the Games of the nth Winter Olympiad", perhaps believing it to be the correct formal name for the Winter Games by analogy with that of the Summer Games.

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This analogy is sometimes extended further by media references to "Summer Olympiads". Olympic Committee often uses the term quadrennium, which it claims refers to the same four-year period.

Example: Olympiad 140, year 1 = 220/219 BC; year 2 = 219/218 BC; year 3 = 218/217 BC; year 4 = 217/216 BC.