Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are a series of sport events occurring every two years, alternating between summer and winter sports.

. . . Olympic Games . . .

The Olympic Games are traditionally said to have first been held in Ancient Greece in 776 BC. They were held in the city of Olympia in honour of the Greek god Zeus, and were a series of athletic competitions between the various Greek city states, with the winner of each event receiving an olive leaf wreath or crown. Some of the traditions of the modern games date back to the ancient games; like the modern games, the ancient games were held every four years, and the symbolism of peace in the modern games was inspired by ancient games, as a truce would be enacted between all the Greek city states during the games to allow athletes to travel safely between their homes and Olympia. Unlike the modern games, the ancient games were only open to Greek men who were free (not slaves), and anyone who wished to participate had to prove Greek ancestry. Women were not allowed to participate, and married women were not even allowed to attend as spectators, though women who owned horses could enter them in the equestrian events (albeit ridden by male jockeys), and would also be declared Olympic champions should their horses win events. The Olympic Games would continue to be held even after Greece came under Roman rule, but would eventually be banned by Emperor Theodosius I in AD 393 after he declared Christianity the state religion of Rome and mandatory for all Roman subjects, as he viewed the games as a Pagan tradition that undermined Christianity.

The first talks of reviving the games began in 1821, after Greece gained independence from the Ottoman Empire. A donation from Evangelos Zappas, a wealthy Greek-Romanian philanthropist led to games being held in Athens in 1859, 1870 and 1875, with athletes coming from Greece and the Ottoman Empire. Meanwhile, a British educationalist known as William Penny Brooks would start an Olympian Class in 1850, which were and continue to be held every year at Much Wenlock, England. Inspired by both these events, French baron Pierre de Coubertin would go on to found the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 1890. Under the auspices of the IOC, the first modern Olympic Games would be held in Athens in 1896, with the Panathinaiko Stadium, which had been renovated for the games in 1870, serving as the main stadium for the games. The first games in 1896 would also be a male-only event, with women only allowed to compete starting from the 1900 edition in Paris.

For much of its history, the modern Olympics required all participants to be amateurs, or in other words to never have received any monetary compensation whatsoever for sports-related activities; a rule inspired by the ideals of the traditional English gentleman in the 19th century. However, with the start of the Cold War, the Soviet Union and its communist allies would get around this rule by nominally hiring their athletes in other occupations, but in practice allowing them to be on perpetual paid leave to train full-time. As a result, the rules on amateurism were gradually relaxed, and were eventually completely abolished in 1992, though the sports of boxing and wrestling continue to use amateur rather than professional fight rules. Another vestige of the amateurism rule can be seen in men’s association football (soccer), where participants are required to be aged 23 or younger (except for three over-age players allowed per team) — in part because FIFA does not want to “devalue” their World Cup and European Championships.

. . . Olympic Games . . .

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. . . Olympic Games . . .

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