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General Category => Sports => Topic started by: Bianca on August 07, 2008, 09:35:36 am

Title: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 07, 2008, 09:35:36 am

                                                  What Exactly Is the Olympic Tradition?

Greg Soltis
LiveScience Staff
Aug. 7, 2008

Amidst the athletes, medals, podiums and pride, rapt Olympics viewers may vaguely detect evidence of values that motivate this international athletic movement.
Those viewers are onto something. There actually are things called Olympic values, and they are based on the vision of Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympic Games. These values continue to inspire the current Olympic tradition.

Coubertin considered respect, fair balance, pursuit of excellence, joy in effort, and balance between mind, body and will as the most essential Olympic values.

How the values came to be

Coubertin believed that sport, which enhances one's ability to think and concentrate, can and should play a formative role in human development on par with science, literature and the arts. The self-control, adherence to rules, and respect for others necessary in athletic pursuits, are also necessary off the playing field, whether in the classroom, at work or at home.

So when he set out to revive the Olympic Games in 1894, he wanted to do more than establish a modern sporting competition. He wanted to create an international movement that combined sport and education and positioned sport as a model for peace and harmony.

According to Coubertin, the Olympics should uphold a set of values that underlies all Olympic activities and can extend well beyond the playing field, thereby distinguishing the Olympic Games from all other sporting events.

This holistic approach towards sports taken by Coubertin reflects that taken by the ancient Greeks. Sports were not only essential for a well-rounded education but also necessary to help pave the road towards greater harmony, understanding and peace in society. "Sport is Man's best way to achieve perfection in every respect," Coubertin said.

Without losing focus of the ultimate goal of perfection, Coubertin emphasized, in the words of Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, that life's a journey, not a destination. "The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight," said Coubertin. "The essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well."

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olymptic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 07, 2008, 09:37:09 am

The values explained

An increasing emphasis on excellence has eclipsed the joy in effort, some say, that should be equally encouraged along with the other values. And the balance encouraged by Coubertin is an amorphous goal. So in an attempt to place the original values in a modern context, the International Olympic Committee recently reframed them under three core themes: excellence, friendship and respect.

Excellence is not only about winning, but also making progress against personal goals, as reflected in the Olympic motto, "Citius - Altius - Fortius," which means "faster - higher - stronger." It is also a state of mind and a behavior that results from a healthy combination of a strong body, mind and will.
Friendship encourages us to consider sport as a tool for mutual understanding. The Olympic Games inspire humanity to forge friendships in spite of political, economic, gender, racial and religious differences.
Respect stands for fair play and for the fight against doping and any other unethical behavior. It encapsulates respect for self and one's body, for others, for the rules, for sport and for the environment.

These core values are brought to life through additional principles of the Olympic Movement, such as universality, sustainability and non-discrimination.

This is evident, according to Steven Maass in the Spring 2007 edition of Olympic Review (the official publication of the International Olympic Committee), through in the Olympic Movement's planning and managing of the games in an environment-friendly manner, promoting women in sport, constructing sports education buildings in developing countries, providing sports equipment to underprivileged areas, and caring for the poor in Africa, victims of war, and AIDS patients.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge emphasized the importance of the Olympic values in his November 2007 address to The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and The Economic Club of Chicago (while in Chicago for the 2007 AIBA World Boxing Championships):

"The Olympic Movement does its greatest work by instilling the values of sport into the hearts and minds of young people everywhere. Sport is a universal language. It teaches us how to strive for excellence in all that we do. How to live in friendship and peace. How to respect ourselves, each other and the rules. Excellence, friendship and respect are the fundamental Olympic values. They anchor all our activities."

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olymptic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 07, 2008, 09:38:51 am

This time around

The efforts made these days by the Beijing Olympic Games Organizing Committee, China's Education Ministry and the National Olympic Committee further Coubertin's legacy by reinforcing the link between sports and the betterment of humanity. These groups organized a number of training sessions to educate teachers on the Olympic values and help them incorporate Olympism into the classroom.

About 800,000 Chinese students received textbooks that introduce them to the history of the Olympics, various Olympic sports and the rules of play, Olympic symbols, and the international role of the Olympic Movement in pursuing international peace. They have also revamped their schools' physical education programs and are encouraging youth to develop become more athletically involved outside of school. And their "Heart-to-Heart" initiative connects 203 schools near Beijing with athletes from various countries to encourage the values of international friendship and respect.

The four goals of the Olympic Charter, which have become known as "Olympism," reflect Coubertin's views of how sport and education should co-exist:

Develop physically and morally. Build a more peaceful world by educating the young in a spirit of understanding. Establish international goodwill by spreading the Olympic principles. Assemble athletes from around the world every four years.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 10, 2008, 10:11:09 pm


Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 10, 2008, 10:25:27 pm

                                                  ANCIENT OLYMPIC GAMES

There are many myths surrounding the origin of the ancient Olympic Games, the most popular of which identifies Heracles as the creator of the Olympic Games.

According to the legend, Heracles built the Olympic stadium and surrounding buildings as an honor to his father Zeus, after completing his 12 labors. After he built the stadium he walked in a straight line for 400 strides and called this distance a "stadion" (Greek: στάδιον, Latin: stadium, "stage") that later also became a unit of distance.

This is also why a modern stadium track is 400 meters in circumference — the distance a runner travels in one lap (1 stadium = 400 m).

Another myth associates the first Games with the ancient Greek concept of ἐκεχειρία (ekecheiria), Olympic truce.

The date of the Games' creation was based on a four year cycle. The most widely held estimate for the inception of the Ancient Olympics is 776 BC, although scholars' opinions diverge between dates as early as 884 BC and as late as 704 BC.

From then on, the Olympic Games quickly became much more important throughout ancient Greece, reaching their zenith in the 6th and 5th centuries BC.

The Olympics were of fundamental religious importance, contests alternating with sacrifices and ceremonies honouring both Zeus (whose colossal statue stood at Olympia), and Pelops, divine hero and mythical king of Olympia, who was famous for his legendary chariot races with King Oenomaus of Pisatis, and in whose honour the games were held.

The number of events increased to twenty, and the celebration was spread over several days.

Winners of the events were greatly admired and were immortalised in poems and statues.

The Games were held every four years, and the period between two celebrations became known as an Olympiad. The Greeks used Olympiads as one of their units of time measurement. The most famous Ancient Olympic athlete lived during the sixth century BC: the wrestler Milo of Croton is the only athlete in history to win a victory in six Olympics.

The Games gradually declined in importance as the Romans gained power in Greece. After Emperor Theodosius I proclaimed Christianity the religion of the Empire in AD 393 and banned pagan rites, the Olympic Games were outlawed as a pagan festival. 

The Olympics were not seen again until their rebirth 1,500 years later.

During the ancient times normally only young men could participate. The sportsmen usually competed ****. This was due in part to the weather and also because the festival was meant to be a celebration of the achievements of the human body.

Upon winning the event, the victor would have not only the prestige of being in first place but would also be presented with a crown of olive leaves. The olive branch is a sign of hope and peace.

While the symbol of the olive branch has carried through from the Ancient Games to the modern reinvention, many other current Olympic symbols are unique to the Modern Olympics. The bearing of a torch, for example, formed an integral part of Greek ceremonies but the Ancient Games did not include
a torch-lighting ceremony, nor was there a symbol formed by interconnecting rings.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 10, 2008, 10:33:09 pm

                                                         R E V I V A L

Although the revival of the Olympic Games began in the mid-19th Century, many sports events with titles such as "Olympick" or "Olympian" Games were held before that and as early as the 16th Century.

These sports days should not be confused with the re-establishment of the Olympic Games in modern times. These included an "Olympick Games" sports festival that was run for several years at Chipping Campden in the English Cotswolds. The present day local Olympick Games trace their origin to this festival.

In 1833, the poet, Panagiotis Soutsos mentions a revival of the ancient Olympic Games in modern times in his poetry.

In 1850, an "Olympian Class" was begun at Much Wenlock in Shropshire, England. This was renamed "Wenlock Olympian Games" in 1859 and continues to this day as the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games. The Wenlock Olympian Society was founded in 1860. A national Olympic Games in Great Britain was organised by their founder, William Penny Brookes, at Crystal Palace in London, in 1866. This national Olympic Games was the first games to actually resemble an Olympic Games to be held outside of Greece.

Meanwhile Evangelos Zappas, a wealthy Greek philanthropist, sponsored the first modern revival of the Olympic Games.  The first modern international Olympic Games was held in an Athens city square in 1859. Zappas paid for the refurbishment of the ancient Panathenian Stadium. This first modern international Olympic Games to be hosted in a stadium was hosted there in 1870, followed by a second 1875. The same stadium was refurbished a second time and used for the Athens 1896 Games. The revival, of the Olympic Games, sponsored by Zappas was a dedicated Olympic Games composed of athletes from two countries: Greece and the Ottoman Empire.

The interest in reviving the Olympics as an international event grew further when the ruins of ancient Olympia were uncovered by German archaeologists in the mid-nineteenth century.

At the same time, Pierre de Coubertin was searching for a reason for the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871). He thought the reason was that the French had not received proper physical education, and desired to improve this.

Coubertin also sought a way to bring nations closer together, to have the youth of the world compete

in sports, rather than fight in war.

In 1890 he attended the "Olympian Games" of the Wenlock Olympian Society, and decided that the recovery of the Olympic Games would achieve both of his goals.

Baron Pierre de Coubertin built on the ideas of Brookes and the foundations of Evangelis Zappas. His
aim was to globalize the Olympic Games and to that end he established the International Olympic Committee.

In a congress at the Sorbonne University, in Paris, France, held from June 16 to June 23, 1894 he presented his ideas to an international audience. On the last day of the congress, it was decided that the first IOC Olympic Games would take place in 1896 in Athens, in the country of their birth.

To organise the Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was established, with the Greek Demetrius Vikelas as its first president. The Panathenian Stadium used for the Olympic Games of 1870 and 1875 was refurbished a second time in readiness for the 1896 Games.

The total number of athletes at the the first IOC Olympic Games, was less than 250, which is minuscule by modern standards, but at that time the games were the largest international sports event ever held.

 This first Modern Olympics had only nine disciplines: Athletics, Cycling, Fencing, Gymnastics, Shooting, Swimming, Tennis, Weightlifting, and Wrestling. All nine of these events have been held in Olympic competition in every Olympics since 1896.

The Greek officials and public were very enthusiastic about hosting the inaugural games, and at one point offered to host the Olympic Games permanently. The IOC decided differently, however, and the second Olympic Games took place in Paris, France.

It was at the Paris Games that women were allowed to compete.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 13, 2008, 09:34:17 am



Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 13, 2008, 09:38:44 am

Modern Olympics

After the initial success, the Olympics struggled.

The celebrations in Paris (1900) and St. Louis (1904) were overshadowed by the World's Fair exhibitions, which were held at the same time and location.

The 1906 Intercalated Games (so-called because they were the second games held within the third Olympiad) were held in Athens, as the first of an alternating series of Athens-held Olympics. Although originally the IOC recognised and supported these games, they are currently not recognised by the IOC as Olympic Games, which has given rise to the explanation that they were intended to mark the 10th anniversary of the modern Olympics. The 1906 Games again attracted a broad international field of participants (in 1904, 80% of the athletes had been American) and generated great public interest, thereby marking the beginning of a rise in both the popularity and the size of the Games.

From the 241 participants representing 14 nations in 1896, the Games have grown to nearly 11,100 competitors from 202 countries at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens. The scope and scale of the Winter Olympics is much smaller than that of their Summer counterpart. For example, Turin Italy hosted 2,633 athletes from 80 countries competing in 84 events during the 2006 Winter Olympics. As participation in the Olympics has grown, so has its profile in the international media. The Olympic Games are one of the world's largest media events. At the Sydney Games in 2000, there were over 16,000 broadcasters and journalists, and an estimated 3.8 billion viewers watched the games on television. The sale of broadcast rights has turned into an integral part of the formula by which countries recoup some of the costs incurred by hosting the Games.

Financing the Olympics is one of the largest problems faced by the IOC and host countries today. Although allowing professional athletes and attracting sponsorships from major international companies solved financial problems in the 1980s, the large number of athletes, media and spectators makes it difficult and expensive for host cities to organize the Olympics. For example, the 2012 Summer Olympics (which will be held in London), is expected to have a budget of over £9 billion—one of the largest budgets for an Olympics to date. One of the biggest problems prospective host countries face is the financial burden their economy will be forced to cope with. Corporate sponsorships do lighten the load in terms of the debt that these countries take on, but as the Games continue to grow the IOC and host countries will have to address the ever-increasing price tag that comes with the honor of hosting an Olympic Games.

A method of deferring the costs is to hold some events in different cities and even in different countries. Despite the Olympics usually being associated with one host city, most of the Olympics have had events held in other cities, especially the football and sailing events. There have been three Olympics in which events were held in a different country: during the 1920 Antwerp Olympics two sailing races were held in the Netherlands; and during the 1956 Melbourne Olympics equestrian events were held in Sweden. The 2008 Beijing Olympics will mark the third time that Olympic events will be held in the territories of two different NOC's: equestrian events will be competed in Hong Kong (which competes separately from mainland China).

203 countries currently participate in the Olympics. This is a noticeably higher number than the number of countries belonging to the United Nations, which is only 193.

The International Olympic Committee allows nations to compete which do not meet the strict requirements for political sovereignty that many other international organizations demand. As a result, many colonies and dependencies are permitted to host their own Olympic teams and athletes even if such competitors also hold citizenship in another member nation. Examples of this include territories such as Puerto Rico, Bermuda, and Hong Kong, all of which compete as separate nations despite being legally a part of another country. Also, since 1980, Taiwan has competed under the name "Chinese Taipei," and under a flag specially prepared by the IOC. Prior to that year the People's Republic of China refused to participate in the Games because Taiwan had been competing under the name "Republic of China." The Republic of the Marshall Islands was recognised as a nation by the IOC on February 9, 2006, and will compete in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 13, 2008, 09:43:21 am

                                               SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

From Wikipedia,
the free encyclopedia

The Summer Olympic Games or the Games of the Olympiad are an international multi-sport event, usually quadrennial, organised by the International Olympic Committee.

The Olympics are the most prestigious sporting event in the world, but not the most-watched -- the television audience for the single-sport FIFA World Cup is larger.

Medals are awarded in each event, with gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third, a tradition that started in 1904.

The Winter Olympics were also created due to the success of the Summer Olympics, but they are not as popular, due to the fact that many countries near the equator have limited or no access to winter training.

The Games have expanded from a 42-event competition with fewer than 250 male athletes to a much-celebrated 300-event sporting tradition with over 10,000 competitors of both genders from 205 nations. Organisers for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing expected approximately 10,500 athletes to take part in the 302 events on the program for the Games.  The 2004 Summer Olympics, for which organisers had also expected 10,500 competitors, drew a total of 11,099 in the 301 events offered.

Competitors are entered by a National Olympic Committee (NOC) to represent their country of citizenship. National anthems and flags accompany the medal ceremonies, and tables showing the number of medals won by each country are widely used. In general only recognised nations are represented, but a few sovereign-disputed countries are allowed to take part.

The United States has hosted four Summer Olympics games, more than any other nation. The United Kingdom will have hosted three Summer Olympics games (all in London) when they return to the British capital in 2012. Australia, France, Germany and Greece have all hosted the Summer Olympic Games twice. Other countries that have hosted the Summer Olympics are Belgium, Canada, Finland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, South Korea, Spain, the Soviet Union and Sweden. People's Republic of China host the Summer Olympics for the first time in Beijing in 2008. Four cities have hosted two Summer Olympic Games: Los Angeles, London, Paris and Athens.

Five countries - Australia, France, Great Britain, Greece and Switzerland - have sent teams to every single Summer Olympic Games. The only country to have won at least one gold medal at every Summer Olympic Games is Great Britain, ranging from one gold in 1904, 1952 and 1996 to fifty-six golds in 1908.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 13, 2008, 09:45:38 am




The early years

The modern Olympic Games were founded in 1894 when Pierre Fredi, Baron de Coubertin sought to promote international understanding through sporting competition. He based his Olympics on the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games, which had been contested in Much Wenlock since 1850.

The first edition of de Coubertin's games, held in Athens in 1896, attracted just 245 competitors, of whom more than 200 were Greek, and only 14 countries were represented.

Nevertheless, no international events of this magnitude had been organized before.

Female athletes were not allowed to compete, though one woman, Stamata Revithi, ran the marathon course

on her own, saying "If the committee doesn’t let me compete I will go after them regardless".

Four years later the 1900 Summer Olympics in Paris attracted more than four times as many athletes, including 11 women, who were allowed to officially compete for the first time, in croquet, golf, sailing, and tennis. The Games were integrated with the Paris World's Fair and lasted over 5 months. It is still disputed which events exactly were Olympic, since few or maybe even none of the events were advertised as such at the time.

Numbers declined for the 1904 Games in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, due in part to the lengthy transatlantic boat trip required of the European competitors, and the integration with the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World's Fair, which again spread the event out over an extended period. In contrast with Paris 1900, the word Olympic was used for practically every contest, including those exclusively for school boys or for Irish-Americans.

A series of smaller games were held in Athens in 1906. these were to be the first of an alternating series of games to be held in Athens, but the series failed to materialise. The games were held in 1906 to celebrate the "tenth birthday" of the games. The IOC does not currently recognise these games as being official Olympic Games, although many historians do. The 1906 Athens games, which had over 900 athletes competing, were more successful than the 1900 and 1904 games and contributed positively to the success of future games.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 13, 2008, 09:52:08 am



The 1908 London Games saw numbers rise again, as well as the first running of the marathon over its
now-standard distance of 42.195 km (26 miles 385 yards). This distance was chosen to ensure that the race finished in front of the box occupied by the British royal family.

The marathon had been 40 km for the first games in 1896, but was subsequently varied by up to 2 km
due to local conditions such as street and stadium layout. At the six Olympic games between 1900 and 1920, the marathon was raced over six different distances.

At the end of the 1908 marathon the Italian runner Dorando Pietri was first to enter the stadium, but he was clearly in distress, and collapsed of exhaustion before he could complete the event. He was helped over the finish line by concerned race officials, but later he was disqualified and the gold medal was awarded to John Hayes, who had trailed him by around 30 seconds.

The Games continued to grow, attracting 2,504 competitors, to Stockholm in 1912, including the great
all-rounder Jim Thorpe, who won both the decathlon and pentathlon. Thorpe had previously played a few games of baseball for a fee, and saw his medals stripped for this breach of amateurism after complaints from his own country men.

They were reinstated in 1983, 30 years after his death.

The Games at Stockholm were the first to fulfill Pierre de Coubertin's original idea. For the first time since the Games started in 1896 were all continents represented with athletes competing in the same stadium.

The scheduled Berlin Games of 1916 were cancelled following the onset of World War I.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 13, 2008, 09:57:49 am

The interwar era

The 1920 Antwerp games in war-ravaged Belgium were a subdued affair, but again drew a record number of competitors. This record only stood until 1924, when the Paris Games would involve 3,000 competitors, the greatest of whom was Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi. "The Flying Finn", won three team gold medals and the individual 1,500 and 5,000 meter runs, the latter two on the same day.

The 1928 Amsterdam games were notable for being the first games which allowed females to compete at track & field athletics, and benefited greatly from the general prosperity of the times alongside the first appearance of sponsorship of the games, from Coca-Cola. This was in stark contrast to 1932 when the Los Angeles games were affected by the Great Depression, which contributed to the fewest competitors since the St. Louis games.

The 1936 Berlin Games were seen by the German government as a golden opportunity to promote their ideology. The ruling Nazi Party commissioned film-maker Leni Riefenstahl to film the games. The result, Olympia, was a masterpiece, despite Hitler's theories of Aryan racial superiority being repeatedly shown up by "non-Aryan" athletes. In particular, African-American sprinter and long jumper Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals. The tale of Hitler snubbing Owens at the ensuing medal ceremony is a fabrication.

The 1936 Berlin Games also saw the reintroduction of the Torch Relay.

Due to World War II, the Games of 1940 (due to be held in Tokyo and temporarily relocated to Helsinki upon the outbreak of war) were canceled. The Games of 1944 were due to be held in London but were also canceled; instead, London hosted the first games after the end of the war, in 1948.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 13, 2008, 10:00:12 am

After WWII

The first post-war Games were held in 1948 in London, with both Germany and Japan excluded. Dutch sprinter Fanny Blankers-Koen won four gold medals on the track, emulating Owens' achievement in Berlin.

At the 1952 Games in Helsinki the USSR team competed for the first time and at once became one of the dominant teams. Finland made a legend of an amiable Czech army lieutenant named Emil Zátopek, who was intent on improving on his single gold and silver medals from 1948. Having first won both the 10,000 and 5,000 metre races, he also entered the marathon, despite having never previously raced at that distance. Pacing himself by chatting with the other leaders, Zátopek led from about half way, slowly dropping the remaining contenders to win by two and a half minutes, and completed a trio of wins.

The 1956 Melbourne Games were largely successful, barring a water polo match between Hungary and the Soviet Union, which political tensions caused to end as a pitched battle between the teams. Due to a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Britain at the time and the strict quarantine laws of Australia, the equestrian events were held in Stockholm.

The 1960 Rome Games saw the arrival on the world scene of a young light-heavyweight boxer named Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali, who would later throw his gold medal away in disgust after being refused service in a whites-only restaurant in his home town, Louisville, KY.[citation needed] Soviet women's artistic gymnastics team members won 15 of 16 possible medals. Other performers of note in 1960 included Wilma Rudolph, a gold medallist in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4x100 metre relay events.

The 1964 Games held in Tokyo are notable for heralding the modern age of telecommunications. These games were the first to be broadcast worldwide on television, enabled by the recent advent of communication satellites. The 1964 Games were thus a turning point in the global visibility and popularity of the Olympics.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 13, 2008, 10:02:44 am

Performances at the 1968 Mexico City games were affected by the altitude of the host city.[6] No event was affected more than the long jump. American athlete Bob Beamon jumped 8.90 metres, setting a new world record and, in the words of fellow competitor and then-reigning champion Lynn Davies, "making the rest of us look silly."[citation needed] Beamon's world record would stand for 23 years. The 1968 Games also saw the introduction of the now-universal Fosbury flop, a technique which won American high jumper Dick Fosbury the gold medal. Politics took centre stage in the medal ceremony for the men's 200 metre dash, where Tommie Smith and John Carlos made a protest gesture on the podium against the segregation in the United States; their political act was condemned within the Olympic Movement, but was praised in the American Civil Rights Movement.

Politics again intervened at Munich in 1972, with lethal consequences. A Palestinian terrorist group named Black September invaded the Olympic village and broke into the apartment of the Israeli delegation. They killed two Israelis and held 9 others as hostages. The terrorists demanded that Israel release numerous prisoners. When the Israeli government refused their demand, a tense stand-off ensued while negotiations continued. Eventually the captors, still holding their hostages, were offered safe passage and taken to an airport, where they were ambushed by German security forces. In the firefight that followed, 15 people, including the nine Israeli athletes and five of the terrorists, were killed. After much debate, it was decided that the Games would continue, but proceedings were obviously dominated by these events.[7] Some memorable athletic achievements did occur during these Games, notably the winning of a record seven gold medals by United States swimmer Mark Spitz, Lasse Viren's, of Finland, back to back gold in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, defeating American distance great Steve Prefontaine in the former, and the winning of three gold medals by 16-year-old Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut, who, however failed to win the all-around to her teammate Ludmilla Tourischeva.

There was no such tragedy in Montreal in 1976, but bad planning led to the Games' cost far exceeding the budget. The Montreal Games are the most expensive in Olympic history, costing over $5 billion (equivalent to $20 billion in 2006).

For a time, it seemed that the Olympics might no longer be a viable financial proposition. There was also a boycott by African nations to protest against a recent tour of apartheid-run South Africa by a New Zealand rugby side.

The Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci won the women's individual all around gold medal with two of four possible perfect scores, thus giving birth to a gymnastics dynasty in Romania. Another female gymnast to earn the perfect score and three gold medals there was Nellie Kim of the USSR. Lasse Viren repeated his double gold in the 5,000 meters and 10,000 meters, making him the only athlete to ever win the distance double twice.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca on August 13, 2008, 10:07:20 am

End of the 20th century

Following the Soviet Union's participation to the Afghan Civil War, 66 nations, including the United States, Canada, West Germany and Japan, boycotted the 1980 games held in Moscow. The boycott contributed to the 1980 Games being a less publicised and less competitive affair, which was dominated by the host country.

In 1984 the Soviet Union, and 13 Soviet Allies, reciprocated by boycotting the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. These games were perhaps the first games of a new era to make a profit. The games were again viable, but had become more commercial. Again, without the participation of the Eastern European countries, the 1984 Games were dominated by their host country.

The 1988 Seoul games were very well planned but the games were sadly tainted when many of the athletes, most notably men's 100 metres winner Ben Johnson, failed mandatory drug tests. Despite splendid drug-free performances by many individuals, the number of people who failed screenings for performance-enhancing chemicals overshadowed the games.

On the bright side, drug testing and regulation authorities were catching up with the cheating that had been endemic in athletics for some years.

The 1992 Barcelona Games were cleaner, although not without incident. In evidence there was increased professionalism amongst Olympic athletes, exemplified by US basketball's "Dream Team".
1992 also saw the reintroduction to the Games of several smaller European states which had been incorporated into the Soviet Union since World War II.

By then the process of choosing a location for the Games had itself become a commercial concern; allegations of corruption rocked the International Olympic Committee, in particular with reference to
Salt Lake City's bid to host the 2002 Winter Olympics.

It was also widely rumoured that The Coca-Cola Company, a key IOC sponsor, was highly influential in the 1996 Summer Olympics being hosted by its home city of Atlanta.  In the stadium in 1996, the highlight was 200 metres runner Michael Johnson annihilating the world record in front of a home crowd. Canadians savoured Donovan Bailey's record-breaking gold medal run in the 100-metre dash. This was popularly felt to be an appropriate recompense for the previous national disgrace involving Ben Johnson.

There were also emotional scenes, such as when Muhammad Ali, clearly affected by Parkinson's disease, lit the Olympic torch and received a replacement medal for the one he had discarded in 1960. The latter event took place not at the boxing ring but in the basketball arena, at the demand of US television.

The atmosphere at the Games was marred however when a bomb exploded during the celebration in Centennial Park. In June 2003, the principal suspect in this bombing, Eric Robert Rudolph, was captured.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca 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.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca 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. 

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca 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.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca 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.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca 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'.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca 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.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca 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.' 

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca 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.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca 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.

Title: Re: What Exactly Is The Olympic Tradition?
Post by: Bianca 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.