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The History of the Most Elite of All International Sports: The Olympics

Sep 11, 2008
Although the Olympics are much anticipated by people around the world, it may come as a bit of surprise to learn that no one really knows where the idea for the Olympic events developed. While historians do know that the Olympic games were an important aspect of ancient Greek culture, they are not sure why they decided to create the Olympic games in the first place.

The Legend of the Origin of the Olympic Games

Although there are many legends regarding the origin of the Olympic games, the most popular is that Zeus created the games along with his son Heracles. The legend states that the father and son first held the event in order to pay honor to the defeat of Cronus and Zeus's subsequent reign over the heavens. Heracles is credited with having named the event the "Olympics" and for deciding to hold the event once every four years.

The Olympics in Ancient Greece

Regardless of where the Olympic games originated, the event was an important part of the ancient Greece culture. In fact, they were central to many religious celebrations and events. Ultimately, the Olympics were comprised of twenty different events that were completed over a period of several days. Those who won the events were admired greatly and were immortalized in many ways, including the creation of statues and poems in their honor.

As the Romans gained power, the Olympic games became of lesser importance. By AD 393, they were banned completely when Emperor Theodosius I named Christianity as the Empire's religion and deemed the Olympic Games to be a pagan festival.

The Resurgence of the Olympic Games

After being banned by Emperor Theodosius I, the Olympic Games as they are known today did not exist for 1500 years. Interest in reviving the event really didn't occur until a wealthy Greek philanthropist by the name of Evangelos Zappas decided to sponsor his version of the Olympic Games. In 1859, an international Olympic Games was successfully held in Athens. Zappas later paid to refurbish the ancient Panathenian Stadium and another event was held in 1870 and then again in 1875.

Although these first events only included athletes from Greece and the Ottoman Empire, the event slowly spread throughout the world and developed into the Olympic Games we know today - with more than 205 nations participating in this major international event.
About the Author
Baxter Owens is the developer of the Elite Sports International website. EliteSI.com offers select athletes the opportunity to participate in sporting events, including the Elite Sports International King Kamehameha International. Check out ESI's Elite Sports International volleyball site.
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