What Was The Purpose Of The First Olympic Games?
The Olympic Games are all about showing off a country’s best of the best athletes. Almost every country from every corner of the world participates, including North Korea, to carry on a tradition that has existed since the time of the ancient Greeks. Many wonder what the purpose was of the initial Olympic Games.
How old are the Olympic Games? What was it for?
According to extensive research, the Olympic Games have been held since 776 BC. The multisport event was not held in a stadium like it was today. It seems the Coliseum was reserved for gladiatorial shows only.
On the Plains of Olympia, a place known for temples to Zeus and Hera, athletes would participate in different ancient sporting events. Some of these games are still part of the Olympic Games today.
The athletic participants came from every city-state under Roman rule to represent their place of origin. Each event represented one of the 12 Gods in the Greek pantheon. And unlike the modern-day Olympics and the medals, the prize for best performance was actually an olive wreath and the bragging rights of winning.
But it wasn’t simply about winning, but also the ability to sharpen your will, body, and mind into a well-oiled “machine.”
At first, it was no more than the city-states under imperial rule, and with more and more places joining, it necessitated the building of a stadium for the games. In time, the stadium would later hold a spectator count of 40,000 people who had traveled from the furthest reaches of the known world to watch the Olympics.
The Mounting Number of Sports
While its inception was likely before 776 BC, this was the first historical record of the games being held. At the time, it was only Greek men and not women who were allowed to participate in a variety of sports.
When the games reached the height of popularity by the 5th and 6th century BC, as many as twenty sports had been added to the events.
Losing Touch with the Games
Despite its intense popularity with the Greek people, succumbing to Roman rule and the spread of Christianity as the dominant religion pushed the games to a level of minimal importance.
The Olympic Games went on for 12 centuries until Roman Emperor Theodosius condemned the games in 393 AD as nothing more than cultist activity. In actuality, the events were both religious and political in nature.
The Birth of the Modern Day Olympics
From the time that Theodosius banned the games to the 19th century no games had been held. But in 1896, the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin felt it was important to revive such a unifying event. From 1896 onward, except for the years during the World Wars, the games have been held every four years.
Interestingly enough, the ‘Winter Olympics is a slightly more modern creation. Beginning in 1924, the Winter Olympics were held on the same years until 1994, when it took an alternating schedule with its summer counterpart.
The most recent summer games were held in Rio in 2016 and the most recent Winter Olympics took place in 2018 in Pyeongchang County in the country of South Korea.
The Olympic Truce
When it comes to the most basic purpose of the Olympics, one could say it was to foster a peaceful grand event that all countries could participate in, despite their potential political disagreements.
Since the first Olympic Games held in ancient Greece, there has been what’s known as the Olympic Truce. An entire organization known as the International Olympic Truce Committee was formed in July of 2000 to maintain that peace and ensure positive participation of all countries involved.
To signify the forming and importance of the entity, it was commemorated at the 2004 Olympic candidate city of Athens with the traditional Olympic Torch Relay.
Today in Olympics
With such varying political climates throughout the world, it is very important that both the Olympic Games and the Truce be maintained. Though many may see the games as an inconvenience to their regularly scheduled programming, the spirit of peace the Games promotes should be seen as a great blessing.
Back At It
The country of Greece rejoined in the Games in December 1999 when the Committee formation was first announced. Ancient Greeks may have theorized that such an occurrence may have very well been the will of those on Mount Olympus.
What is your favorite sport to see at the Summer and Winter Olympics? Who is your favorite athlete?