In 2004 the Olympic Games returned to its home in Greece, where it began around 3000 years ago. The first recorded Olympic festival took place in 776 B.C. Similar festivals had been organised for at least 2 or 3 centuries prior to this, but 776 B.C saw the start of a regular festival which was to take place every Olympiad or four-year period.
In ancient Greece, citizens of different city states could not always travel freely around the country, but during the Olympic the various rulers agreed truces so that their citizens could attend the Olympic without problems. Sport was only one part of the festival. There were also ritual sacrifices, poetry readings, exhibitions of sculpture and trace fairs. It was a festival which celebrated on the one hand the Greek gods, and on the other hand the abilities of the Greek people.
The earlier athletic competitions were running races but later other sports such as boxing and wrestling came to be included. It was not simply a matter of professional athletes arriving and entering the competitions, for one thing, there were no professional athletes. All the competitors were ordinary Greek citizens who felt that they were among the best in their chosen sports. Anyone wishing to compete had to arrive four weeks early and undergo a full month of training. It wasn’t only physical training, either, would be competitors had to proof that they were morally and spiritually suitable to compete. Even if someone was physically fit enough, they couldn’t compete unless the judges thought they were of the right moral fiber. Curiously, all sportsmen competed nude, it was widely believed that wearing clothes slowed the athletic down.
At the start of the games, every competitor had to swear an oath that they were a free citizen of Greece who had committed no sacrilege against the gods. In today’s Olympic, one athlete takes an oath on behalf of all the competitors, although of course it is a little different to the ancient Greek oath. Today,...