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What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?

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Author Topic: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?  (Read 1528 times)
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« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2008, 10:10:34 am »

The 2000 Summer Olympics held in Sydney, Australia, known as the


A new millennium

The 2000 Games were held in Sydney, Australia, and showcased individual performances by local favourite Ian Thorpe in the pool, Briton Steve Redgrave who won a rowing gold medal in an unprecedented fifth consecutive Olympics, and Cathy Freeman, an Indigenous Australian whose triumph in the 400 metres united a packed stadium.

Eric "the Eel" Moussambani, a swimmer from Equatorial Guinea, had a memorably slow 100 metre freestyle swim that showed that, even in the commercial world of the twentieth century, some of de Coubertin's original vision still remained.

The Sydney Games were also memorable for the first appearance of a joint North and South Korean contingent (to
a standing ovation) at the opening ceremonies, even if they competed as different countries.

IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch declared at the Closing Ceremony, "I am proud and happy to proclaim that you have presented to the world the best Olympic Games ever."

2004 saw the Games return to their birthplace in Athens, Greece. Greece spent at least $7.2 billion on the Games, including $1.5 billion on security alone. The games were praised and appreciated for their excellent quality in terms of organization, hospitality, symbolism, the level of the competition and athleticism, and the overall image transmitted worldwide.

Although unfounded and wildly sensationalized reports of potential terrorism drove crowds away from the preliminary competitions of first weekend of the games (August 14-15), attendance picked up soon thereafter as the games progressed, the competitions got underway, and the terrorist attacks and security glitches failed to materialize.
The Athens Games witnessed all 202 NOCs participate with over 11,000 participants.

The 2008 Summer Olympics are currently being held in Beijing, People's Republic of China. Several new events, including the new discipline of BMX for both men and women, are to be held.

For the first time, women will compete in the steeplechase. The fencing programme is expanding to include all six events for both men and women. Women had not previously been able to compete in team foil or sabre events. Marathon swimming events, over the distance of 10 kilometres, have been added. In addition, the doubles events
in table tennis have been replaced by team events.

London, United Kingdom will hold the 2012 Summer Olympics, making London the only city to host the Games three times.

The International Olympic Committee has removed baseball and softball from the 2012 programme. However, it may be re-added in programmes in later years.

The International Olympic Committee has announced that the finalists to host the 2016 Summer Olympics are Chicago, USA; Tokyo, Japan; Madrid, Spain; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2008, 10:23:04 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

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« Reply #16 on: August 13, 2008, 10:25:44 am »

The Incredible Evolution of the Olympics

Greg Soltis
LiveScience Staff
Tue Aug 12, 2008
From the long-defunct tug-of-war to the resurrected tennis matches and the tried-and-true gymnastics, the Olympics have evolved dramatically over the past 112 years while a few elements remain forever a part of the games.
The inaugural modern games in 1896 offered nine sports, compared to 28 at this year's Olympics in China. In the intervening decades, various events have come and gone, including golf, water motorsports and demonstration sports such as ballooning and American football.

In all, 33 medal events or demonstration sports have come and gone during the modern Summer Olympics.

And this summer is your last chance to watch Olympic baseball and softball for at least eight more years.

The host country used to dominate the decision about which events to offer, allowing for some rather unusual competitions. But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) now oversees this process and offers parameters for determining what a sport is as well as whether or not it should be included.

What makes a sport a sport?

The IOC uses the terms "event," "discipline" and "sport" to organize their athletic competitions. An event is any competition that results in the awarding of medals, such as the women's 100-meter backstroke. The discipline of swimming, which comprises various events like the backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle, is a branch of the sport aquatics.

A sport is governed by an International Federation (IF) that oversees each individual discipline within the sport.

This can add some confusion. Most people consider swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, and water polo as four separate sports. But in the eyes of the IOC, they are disciplines.

Sport and discipline are synonymous in some cases, as with baseball and basketball.

How are the sports determined?

For a sport or discipline to be considered for the Summer Olympics, it must demonstrate popularity among both genders in various parts of the world. Men from at least 75 countries and women from at least 50 countries should practice a given sport on four continents.

The decision to add or remove sports from any edition of the Olympic Games must be made before selecting the host city, according to the Olympic Charter. This usually happens at least seven years before an Olympics take place.

But the addition of disciplines or events to the program of any Olympic Games by the IOC Executive Board cannot be made later than three years before the opening of these Olympic Games.

When determining which sports to include in an Olympic program, at least 25 of the sports offered must come from the 28 sports established by the IOC. Up to three additional sports may be added that are not from among this pre-established group.

Though the Games will continue to evolve, the tug-of-war is likely to remain charming Olympic nostalgia. 
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« Reply #17 on: August 13, 2008, 10:59:30 am »

                                                   What Do the Olympic Rings Symbolize?

                     The meaning of the Olympic Games' five interlocking rings is not at all black-and-white.

The rings of blue, black, yellow, red and green, which make up one of the most recognized symbols in the world, traditionally represent the five different areas of the world involved in the Olympics (North and South America are considered one area, along with Africa, Australia, Asia and Europe).

The International Olympic Committee states that the Olympic Symbol reinforces the international component of the Olympic Movement as the meeting of athletes from around the world. According to the Olympic Charter, "The Olympic symbol expresses the activity of the Olympic Movement and represents the union of the five continents and the meeting of athletes from throughout the world at the Olympic Games."

But the six colors, if you include the white background in the Olympic flag, were intended to represent the various colors seen on the flags of nations competing in the Games of Olympiads I, II, III, IV, and V. And historian David Young says it is likely that these rings could also symbolize the previous five Olympiads completed prior to 1914.

Each color does not correspond to a specific continent, as is commonly thought; besides, there are technically seven continents on Earth, not five.

"It is a true international emblem," wrote Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Modern Olympic Games, in 1913. He spoke of uniting the different regions of the world, not the different continents.

Coubertin designed the Olympic flag in 1913, at the outbreak of World War I, to symbolize peace and fraternity. Though adopted the following year as the official Olympic symbol, he had to wait until after World War I to see the Olympic flag flown at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics. Coubertin had commissioned the Olympic flag to mark the 20th anniversary of the IOC's founding, June 23, 1914, in Paris.

The 1928 St. Moritz winter games in Switzerland were the first to display the Olympic rings on the official Olympic poster. But it was not until the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin that this emblem became widely popular.

As an image of Olympism, Coubertin thought the rings had deep significance, that of the union of humanity.

American historian Robert Barney says, in his November 1992 article "The Great Symbol" published in Olympic Review (the official publication of the International Olympic Committee), that the roots of the inspiration for the rings came from Coubertin's previous work.

In 1890, Coubertin became president of the Union des Sociétés Francaises des Sports Athlétiques (USFSA), a French sports-governing body. The USFSA arose as a result of a merger between two French sporting bodies, one led by Coubertin. To represent this merger, the USFSA had created a logo of two interlocking rings that was displayed on the uniforms of USFSA athletes starting in 1893 — one year before Coubertin initiated the Sorbonne Conference in Paris where the Modern Olympic Movement began.

The larger symbolism of circles was likely not lost on Coubertin either. Circles, or rings, represent wholeness, according to psychologist Karl Jung, and when joined together, continuity.
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« Reply #18 on: August 13, 2008, 01:36:59 pm »

Chariot race ©

                                                  The Olympics: Ancient versus Modern

By Dr Stephen Instone

Today's Olympic Games are based on what took place at Olympia, in Greece, nearly three millennia ago.

What were the ancient Olympics like, and how different were they from those of modern times?


Traditionally it has always been said that the Games started at Olympia in 776 BC, about the time
that Homer was born.

But for several centuries before that date Olympia had been a cult site for the worship of Zeus,
a numinous location away from human dwellings, overlooked by a hill, with the sacred River Alph
flowing through it.

What was it that caused people to change from honouring Zeus solely with dedicatory offerings, to honouring him through athletics? Several factors seem to have been involved. One is the rise of the Greek polis, or city-state. As city-states in different locations grew, each wanted a means of asserting its supremacy, so would send representatives to Olympia to become supreme in physical competition.

                               'The Games were an attractive means of getting men fit. '

Connected with this is the development of military training.

The Games were an attractive means of getting men fit. Another factor is the traditional Greek view that the gods championed a winner, so by establishing a competition aimed at producing supreme winners, they were thereby asserting the power and influence on humans of the supreme god, Zeus.
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« Reply #19 on: August 13, 2008, 01:41:42 pm »

A winner being presented
with tokens of victory ©

Earliest races

For the first 13 Olympics there was only one event, the stadion race , which was a running race up one length of the stadium. How long this race was is a matter for conjecture, as the ancient stadium, 192 meters long, visible at Olympia now, did not exist then.

In 724 BC a longer, there-and-back race, the diaulos, was introduced, followed four years later by the long-distance race, the dolichos, a race of perhaps 12 laps. The emphasis on running in the early years of the Olympics may reflect the perceived basic requirements for a fit soldier.

'The emphasis on running in the early years of the Olympics may reflect the perceived basic

requirements for a fit soldier.'

Boxing, wrestling, and the pancration (the 'all-power' race, combining all types of physical attack) soon followed, along with the pentathlon, and horse-and-chariot racing. A race while wearing armour was introduced in 520 BC, and even a mule race (in 500 BC, but it was not generally popular).

So the changing shape of the modern Olympic programme is not without precedent, though the ancient Greeks would perhaps have balked at the sight of some of our modern 'sports'.
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« Reply #20 on: August 13, 2008, 01:43:55 pm »

Religion and politics

Religion pervaded the ancient Olympics.

Zeus was thought to look down on the competitors, favouring some and denying victory to others.

'You could spur on a man with natural talent to strive towards great glory with the help of the gods'

 says Pindar in a victory-ode.

If an athlete was fined for cheating or bribery (human nature stays much the same over a few millennia), the money exacted was used to make a cult statue of Zeus.

A grand sacrifice of 100 oxen was made to Zeus during the Games, and Zeus the Apomuios, or 'averter of flies', was invoked to keep the sacrificial meat fly-free.

Olympia was home to one of Greece's great oracles, an oracle to Zeus, with an altar to him consisting
of the bonfire-heap created by burnt sacrificial offerings. As the offerings were burnt, they were examined by a priest, who pronounced an oracle - an enigmatic and often ambiguous prediction of the future - according to his interpretation of what he saw. Athletes consulted the oracle to learn what their chances in the Games were.

The Greeks tried to keep some aspects of politics out of the Olympics, but their efforts met then, as such efforts do now, with limited success. The Olympic truce was meant to lead to a cessation of hostilities throughout Greece, to allow competitors to travel and participate safely, but it was not always observed.

                               'A victorious athlete brought great honour to his home city.'

The great historian of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides, tells how in 420 BC the Spartans violated
the truce by attacking a fort and dispatching hoplites, and they were therefore banned from the Games.
But Lichas, a prominent Spartan, thought of a way round the ban - he entered the chariot race as a Boeotian. When his true nationality was discovered, however, he was given a public flogging at Olympia.

A victorious athlete brought great honour to his home city.

The sixth-century Athenian statesman Solon promoted athletics by rewarding Athenian victors at the Games financially - an Olympic victor would receive 500 drachmae (for comparison, a sheep was worth one drachma). Thucydides represents the maverick Athenian leader Alcibiades as trying to drum up political support in 415 BC by boasting of his earlier successes in the Olympic Games.

And it is clear from the victory odes of Pindar and Bacchylides that the Sicilian tyrants in the fifth century aimed to strengthen their grip on affairs by competing in the equestrian events at the Games, and by commissioning famous poets to compose and publicly perform odes celebrating their victories.
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« Reply #21 on: August 13, 2008, 01:45:49 pm »

Nakedness and women

                                     'Sow naked, plough naked, harvest naked',

the poet Hesiod (a contemporary of Homer) advises.

He might have added 'compete in the Games naked', for that is usually understood to be the
standard practice among the ancient Greeks.

Some dispute this, for although the visual evidence for it - the painted decorations on vases -
generally shows athletes performing naked, all sorts of other people (eg soldiers departing for
war, which they would presumably have done clothed) are also shown unclad.

Also, some vases do show runners and boxers wearing loin-cloths, and Thucydides says that
athletes stopped wearing such garments only shortly before his time. Another argument is that
it must have been impractical to compete naked. On balance, however, it is generally thought
probable that male athletes were naked when competing at the Games.

'Women did not participate at the main Olympic festival.'

Women did not participate at the main Olympic festival. They had their own Games, in honour
of Hera, where the sole event was a run of five-sixths of the length of the stadium - which
would have preserved in male opinion the inferior status of women. Whether women could even
watch the festival is disputed.

Unmarried virgins, not soiled by sex or motherhood and thus maintaining the religious purity
of the occasion, probably could. Festivals (and, for example, funerals) were among the limited
occasions when women, especially virgins, or parthenoi, had a public role.

At the Games unmarried girls, besides helping with the running of the festival, may have taken
the opportunity to find a fit future husband.

As Pindar wrote, about a victor in the Greek colony of Cyrene -

                        'When they saw you many times victorious in the Games of Athene,

            each of the maidens was speechless as they prayed you might be her husband or son.' 
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« Reply #22 on: August 13, 2008, 01:48:31 pm »

Boxing contest ©

Great athletes

Milo of Croton, in southern Italy, would come high on anyone's list of greats.

He was Olympic champion in the men's wrestling six times in the sixth century, besides winning once in the
Olympic boy's wrestling, and gaining seven victories in the Pythian Games. He is said to have carried his own
statue, or even a bull, into the Olympic arena, and to have performed party tricks such as holding a pomo-
granate without squashing it and getting people to pry open his hand - nobody could.

                   'He was Olympic champion in the men's wrestling six times in the sixth century, ...

                                     and gaining seven victories in the Pythian Games.'

Then there is Leonidas of Rhodes, who, in the second century BC won all three running events at four
consecutive Olympics.

Another great Rhodian athlete was Diagoras, who in the fifth century BC won at all four of the major Games (Olympic, Pythian, Nemean and Isthmian). His three sons and two of his grandsons were also Olympic champions.

Superhuman heavyweights were regarded with special awe.

Cleomedes, a fifth-century Olympic boxing champion, killed an opponent at the Olympics, was disqualified, went
mad and smashed up a school.

Not a recipe for special reverence, you might think.

But the Greeks regularly explained abnormal feats and states of mind by saying that something
divine, or a god, had entered whoever was affected in this way, and Cleomedes ended up
receiving semi-divine honours as a hero.
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« Reply #23 on: August 13, 2008, 01:51:11 pm »

Long-distance runner ©

Athletics fans and haters

Not all Greeks admired athletes.

                                      'It isn't right to judge strength as better than good wisdom',

writes Xenophanes (sixth to fifth century BC). Just because someone has won an Olympic victory, he says, they won't improve the city.

The tragedian Euripides expressed similar sentiments in his play Autolycus, now only surviving in fragments. In it he describes how athletes are slaves to their stomachs, but they can't look after themselves, and although they glisten like statues when in their prime, become like tattered old
carpets in old age.

Galen, physician and polymath of the first century AD, also attacked athletics as unnatural and excessive. He thought that athletes eat too much, sleep too much and put their bodies through
too much.

But in the end the detractors of athletics lost out to the sympathisers.

The person who most idealised the Olympics was Pindar, from Thebes, midway between Delphi and Athens. Pindar composed odes for victors at the Olympic and other Games in the fifth century BC, comparing their achievements to those of the great heroes of the past - such as Heracles or Achilles - thus raising them to an almost divine level.

Galen, physician and polymath of the first century AD, also attacked athletics as

                                                    'unnatural and excessive.'

He thought that, though mortals, their superhuman feats of strength had temporarily elevated them
to another realm and given them a taste of incomparable bliss.

                             'For the rest of his life the victor enjoys a honey-sweet calm'

he writes.

For Pindar, the Olympics stood out among the Games -

'Water is best; gold like fire that is burning during the night is conspicuous outshining great wealth;

but if, my heart, you desire song to celebrate the Games, look no further than the sun for another

radiant star hotter in the empty day-time sky, nor let us proclaim a contest better than Olympia.'

Contrived poetry -
let's hope he continues to be right.
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« Reply #24 on: August 16, 2008, 12:01:38 am »

                                Germans find Olympic course where Nero raced chariot

By Daniel Flynn
July 2008

ATHENS (Reuters) - German archaeologists using radar technology believe they may have discovered the ancient horse racing track at Olympia where Roman Emperor Nero bribed his way to Olympic laurels.

The whereabouts of the racecourse is one of the last remaining mysteries of Olympia, the holy site where the ancient Greeks founded the Olympic Games in the eighth century BC.

The one-kilometer-long course, the largest structure of ancient Olympia, has been lost for more than 1,600-years since the Christian Emperor Theodosius abolished the games because of their pagan past.

"By means of geomagnetic investigation ... the first clear indications of the localization of the Hippodrome were found," said a statement sent to Reuters by Norbert Muller of the Johannes Gutenburg University Mainz, which helped fund the search.

German archaeological teams have been continuously excavating at Olympia since 1875 but the racehorse has remained hidden by several meters of silt on the floodplain of the Alfeios river.

In the second century AD, the travel writer Pausanias described the location of the track to the east of the Olympic sanctuary, detailing its unusual starting mechanism and the dangers for charioteers who were often injured at its sharp turn.

In May, German researchers led by Muller and Reinhard Senff of the German Archaeological Institute in Athens explored the plain with modern geomagnetic methods for the first time.

After collating the information, they discovered what appeared to be a long, rectangular structure matching ancient sources' description of the track, the statement said. 
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