Thursday, 19 March 2009

The Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are an international sports festival that began in ancient Greece. The original Greek games were staged every fourth year for several hundred years, until they were abolished in the early Christian era. The revival of the Olympic Games took place in 1896 and since then they have been staged every fourth year, except during World War I and World War II (1914, 1940, 1944).
Perhaps the basic difference between the ancient and modern Olympics is that the former was the ancient Greeks' way of saluting their gods, whereas the modern games are a manner of saluting the athletic talents of citizens of all nations. The original Olympics featured competition in music, oratory and theatre performances as well. The modern games have a more expansive athletic agenda, and for two and a half weeks they are supposed to replace the rancor of international conflict with friendly competition. In recent times , however, that lofty ideal has not always been attained.
Although the Olympic Games have been increasingly politicised, the ideal of the world's best athletes competing against each other in the arena of so-called pure sport has been at least partially realised, especially from the athletes' point of view. And even though skill and courage are manifested by most Olympic participants, the great gold medalists are the ones who are most often remembered.
Almost all athletes who take part in the Olympic Games stress that, for them, the rites of Olympic passage are apolitical - that while there is, of course, a great sense of pride in competing for one's country, the camaraderie shared by the athletes is the most rewarding of Olympic experiences.
The ideology of nationalism, which swept the world during the early 20th century, left its mark on the Olympics. The most serious disruption to the modern Olympics, however, occurred in 1980 and 1984. In 1980 the U.S. government led a boycott of the Summer Games in Moscow to protest the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In 1984, the Summer Games held in Los Angeles, were undercut by an eastern-bloc boycott led by the ex USSR.
Today lots of things have changed. In recent Olympic Games - both in Athens and Beijing - there was a lot of doping. Some athletes were disqualified. But this is not the issue. What I sadly see as a Greek is a degrading of the Olympics. The means justify the end : the gold medal above all and all the finamcial benefits PLUS the fame and publicity. The means justify the end. And considering hooliganism in there any fair play today?


Reader Wil said...

The Olympic Games have also been important in another way. There's always a group of people who are getting to know about the ways of life of other cultures. Of course some very tragic events will always be remembered. I think of the games in 1972, when the whole group of athletes of Israel was murdered.

Stefania said...

In ancient Greece all the wars stopped during the Olympic Games which together with sport and arts, they also sent messages of peace. In the recent years it's a shame to see that they are politicised and far from promoting peace , they promote instead,wars and greed which explains why so many athletes have been doped.

christina-1977 said...

I will never forget the strict security measures taken during the Olympics in Athens in 2004. Even if there have been tragic or unfortunate incidents in past Olympics, I think that the Olympic Games in general have a lot of positive things to give us. I also believe that the pride of the athletes for their country when they win a medal is something unique.Must be a great feeling.

Anastasia said...

This century has seen countries hosting the Games in dazzling style but with the influence of commercialism or politics and with increasing trends in drug taking to improve performances. However, names like Jessie Owens (the 100 metres sprinter), Mark Spitz (the swimmer) and Olga Korbut (the gymnast) will remain in the history books as some of the finest competitors the Games have seen in recent years.

Kate said...

Wonderful post with great info. I wish that the competition in music, theatre, etc still existed.

Dina said...

Guess I never realized what you say, that the Olympics were the ancient Greeks' way of saluting their gods.
Your photos here make me try to imagine how it was then.
Greetings from over here in Jerusalem.

Reader Wil said...

Thank you for your comment. Yes cats are very intelligent and loyal too. Our cats used to walk with us till the end of the street, where they waited once for three hours till we came back. They were overjoyed when we came back. I miss my cats too, but can't have pets anymore.

Sophia said...

The most important message that the Olympics sent from ancient Olympia is the value of sport - a healthy mind in a healthy body.