History of the Olympic Games

Introduction

The Olympic Games are an international sports festival which is held every four years. The goal of these games is to cultivate human beings through sports and contribute to world peace. The Summer and Winter Games are held separately. The last Olympics was held in Brazil. After that, it was supposed to be held in 2020 but because of the pandemic, it got postponed to 2021 and is being held in Japan from 23rd July to 8th August 2021.

History

The Olympic games originated in ancient Greece which would make it as old as 3,000 years. From then it was revived in the late 19th century. The Games were held every four years in Olympia from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. Olympia was located in the western Peloponnese peninsula, honouring the god Zeus. They used to be held from August 6 to September 19. It became such an important part of the culture that people start measuring time by the interval between the Olympics, this measurement of time is called the “Olympiad”. These games were an intrinsic part of a religious festival in honour of Zeus and the first recorded champion is known to be Coroebus of Elis, who was a cook. He won the sprint race in 776 BCE.

In 776 BCE, there was just one event, that of a footrace which was known as “stade”. This very word is the origin of the modern English word “stadium”. Other competitions were added over the decades. Wrestling and pentathlon were introduced in 708 BCE, boxing was introduced in 688 BCE.

In ancient Olympics, all events were held on one day, from that they later shifted to covering all events in four days. It is also said that the participants followed the practice of participating in the nude. This practice has been tried to explain and the top explanations are that nudity bespoke a rite of passage, nudity was a holdover from the days of hunting and gathering, the Greeks believed that nudity had a special power to ward off any harm, public nudity used to be a costume of the upper class and to be nude in public without erection showed a high level of self-control.

Women in Olympic Games

There were no women participants in the ancient Olympics, although some names of women can be seen on the official list of Olympics victors as the owners of the stables for the chariot entries.

Demise of Olympics

In the middle of the 2nd century BCE, Greece had lost its independence to Rome. The Romans did not think kindly of athletics. They thought that stripping naked and competing in public was a degrading act.

Modern Olympic Movement

The architect of the modern Games was Pierre, baron de Coubertin who was born in Paris. In 1890, he traveled to England where he met Dr. William Penny Brookes who had been trying to revive the ancient Olympic Games for decades. He got the idea from a series of modern Greek Olympiads held in Athens since 1859. Brookes first attempt at British Olympiad in 1866 was successful but the subsequent attempts were unsuccessful. In the 1880s Brookes started arguing to begin an international Olympics in Athens. But Coubertin stole Brookes’ idea and proposed the same in 1892 at a meeting of the Union des Sports Athletiques in Paris. Coubertin faced a lot of problems in the establishment of this, like refusal by the Greek Prime Minister but when a new Prime Minister took place, Coubertin and his colleague were able to convince him and the Games were held in the first week of April 1896.

Conclusion

Coubertin said the spirit of the Olympic Games is “The elevation of the mind and soul, overcoming differences between nationalities and cultures, embracing friendship, a sense of solidarity, and fair play; ultimately leading to the contribution towards world peace and betterment of the world.”

References