Today, the Olympic Games have developed so much that there are many Olympics Crypto sports betting sites for players to bet on right on their devices. But do you know that the Olympics is rich in history?
The Olympics, as we know it today, enjoys a rich, robust, and well-cherished history of being one of the oldest sports competitions in the world. With the division of the competition into summer and winter Games, which are alternated every two years, Olympic Games have remained historic globally. In light of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games that are in full gear after a 2020 halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s every athlete’s dream to feature in the Olympics.
While this dream usually results in the production of some of the finest athletes in the world, the Games feature multiple main and mini sports events. The practice is that some new games are added from time to time, while some previously removed games are also added. For instance, 3×3 basketball, freestyle BMX are making their first appearance in the Tokyo Games, while Madison cycling was readded this time. This article takes a look at the interesting history of the Olympics, and how the competition has largely maintained huge significance to this day.
Tracing the origins of Olympic Games
Around 1200 B.C., the great Greek god Zeus led his Elean people to conquer a rich, prosperous, and large territory known as Olympia, after which he initiated reforms in the city. One of the first reforms he put in place was a central administrative authority, which would go on to birth one of the most reputable events in the world. Olympia itself was situated on the northwestern part of the Peloponnese peninsula, present-day mainland Southern Greece.
The administration created regional impacts which saw the city-state of Elis become the administrative region of the people. From this administration, the idea to start a game in honour of Zeus sprang. It is worthy of note that Olympia had been in use for religious activities across Greece, hence making the site a perfect fit for honouring Zeus. Even though some Olympic-like games had been in existence, the first recorded edition of the competition dates back to 776 B.C. which saw a cook named Coroebus win a 192-meter footrace, which was the sole event in the competition.
The said first event took place in the sanctuary of Olympia, in which the holy olive tree of Zeus was cut and presented as victory wreaths, reinforcing the religious nature of the event. The event continued in the sanctuary until 550 B.C when the events were moved to the stadia. Up until 572 B.C, the Eleans had demonstrated massive success dominating their arch-rivals the Pisatans. The Games’ popularity continued with the introduction of more games after 13 Olympic competitions.
The first of those new mini-events were the diaulos (presently 400-meter race) and the dolichos (1,500-meter race upwards). The ancient Greek martial art Pankration that has elements of wrestling and boxing, was introduced to the Games in 648 B.C. Chariot racing was introduced in 680 B.C., while boxing was introduced in 688 BC. In 708 B.C., the Pentathlon was introduced featuring 5 events, such as discus, javelin, foot race, long jump, and wrestling.
In the 4th century B.C., the stadia Olympia had been upgraded to expand the number of people that could attend the competitions, culminating in over 50,000 spectators going to watch events. One thing to also note is that the vastly growing popularity and attendance of the Olympic Games could not erode the religious homage that was being paid to Zeus and tens of other Greek gods. Consequently, both Olympic medalists and spectators could sacrifice at both the Altar of Zeus and other Altars as they deemed fit. This was instrumental to maintaining the very athletic nature of the Greeks, especially their fighters.
The competitions kept attracting thousands of artists and other business people who came to advertise the products, while also putting up some artworks to spice up interest in the site. At its initial development stage, competition in the Olympic Games was exclusively for Greek freeborn male athletes/citizens of. Female athletes were not allowed to participate in the Games.
Ban of Olympic Games and The Subsequent Re-Emergence of The Games
Following the conquest of Greece by the Roman Emperor Theodosius I around A.D 393-394, the Greek Olympics were officially banned by the emperor. The emperor was a Christian and had held on to the notion that Olympic Games were of a pagan nature, which he frowned at. This marked the end of a competition that had been ingrained in the lives of the Greeks for almost 1,200 years (12 centuries).
In the 1800s, the Greeks had started making efforts to bring back the Olympic Games, but their efforts were met with difficulty, muddling and blurring the concept of the game even further.
However, nearly 1,500 years after the competition’s ban, Pierre de Coubertin, a French nobleman, educator and historian started taking steps to return the competition to its previous glory. The French man had been concerned with the best ways to introduce physical fitness in educational curricula that would pervade the whole of France. Upon realizing that the Olympics could solve that puzzle, he convened an international sports congress conference on June 16, 1894. This conference had the attendance of major sporting nations of the world, such as Olympic founding nation Greece, France, Spain, United States, England, Russia, Belgium, and Sweden.
It was at the conference that he enjoined the other participating nations to work towards reinvigorating the Olympic Games. Fortunately, a unanimous decision was reached for the Games to have the games back, after which it was agreed that the first modern Olympic Games would take place in Greece, the founding nation of the competition. It was also agreed that the Games would be hosted by different nations every four years.
In essence, the first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens in 1896, which had 12 nations, 280 participants, and 9 sports, and 43 events competed for. The next Games were held in France in 1900, after which 1904, 1908, and 1912 games followed, rapidly increasing the relevance of the game.