How did the Olympic Games begin?

“At its heart the Ancient Olympic Games was a religious festival held in a religious sanctuary,”  “it was not just a matter of playing sports”, Paul Christesen, professor of Ancient Greek History at Dartmouth College, USA, explained.

The Greeks were passionate about sports and the Olympic Games were the biggest sporting event in the ancient times.

The Olympic Games started around 2,700 years in a place called Olympia, Southwest of Greece. In every four years, around 50,000 people came to be a part of these games. These games were also considered a religious festival to honor the king of gods- Zeus. In order for these games to function in a peaceful and a harmonic manner, messengers were sent to declare a ‘sacred truce’ or peace. This was to stop the outbreak of any war that would disrupt the games and for the safety of the people travelling to see the games.

The first edition of the games from 776BC to 550BC was held among the sanctuary. The first stadium was amidst the nature with the surrounding hills that portrayed a simple affair. Today more than 150 wells are discovered in those areas which speak about the considerable attention the games were able to attract in those times. The finishing lines were marked by the sacred olive tree (of Zeus) leaves that were used for the victory wreaths as well.

Only men, boys and unmarried girls were allowed to attend the Olympic Games. Married women were barred from playing.

Women still owned horses in the chariot races at the Olympics. A separate festival was held for the unmarried women at Olympia once in every four years in the honor of Hera, Zeus’s wife. The winners were given the same olive branches that were given to men. But, only Spartan women were really interested in sports in ancient Greece.

Here are few facts on the Ancient Olympic Games -

All athletes competed naked
Wrestlers and pankration (a sort of mixed martial art which combined boxing and wrestling) competitors fought covered in oil
Corporal punishment awaited those guilty of a false start on the track
There were only two rules in the pankration – no biting and no gouging
Boxers were urged to avoid attacking the on-display male genitals
There were no points, no time limits and no weight classifications in the boxing
Athletes in the combat sports had to indicate their surrender by raising their index fingers – at times they died before they could do this

Boxers who could not be separated could opt for klimax, a system whereby one fighter was granted a free hit and then vice-versa – a toss of a coin decided who went first

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Post Written by -  Adap Immanuel Teron

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