Threats to the Olympic Ideals

The ancient Olympic games can be traced back to 776 B.

C., and were founded on honorable principles of sportsmanship, fairness, character and civility. The goals of the ancient Olympics encouraged good relationships throughout Greek cities and focused on sportsmanship between athletes. Truce, or the ekecheiria was the most important rule during these times. This meant that all soldiers had to put down their weapons and stop fighting during the games. All hostilities were suspended for the time of competition, allowing all competitors and visitors to travel safely through enemy territories (“OLYMPIC GAMES” n.pag.).

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[1]“Eleans” were the supervisors of the ancient games and helped to uphold the code. They acted as overseers during the month training period prior to the games and during the games themselves. The “Eleans” were responsible for imposing punishments on those who violated the rules. They observed the athletes and allowed those who had trained sufficiently to participate and rejected those who had not performed well.

This judgment was based not only on an athlete’s physical performance, but also on their character and moral status (“Ancient Olympic Games” n.pag.).[2]The Greeks valued a “healthy mind in a healthy body”(“Olympic Athletic Ideal-Olympic Legacy.com” n.pag.).

[3] An athletic victory was considered a credit to both the athlete’s physical and moral values. Strong disciplined character was just as important as a well-trained body. Cheating was strictly prohibited. If an athlete was caught cheating in any way he was fined, and the dues were used to build bronze statues of Zeus, the patron god of the Olympic games. The statues were placed along the tunnel leading up to the Olympic stadium. Each statue had an inscription that told the cautionary tale of the offense to remind athletes the importance of obeying the rules (“Cheating in the Ancient Olympic Games” n.

pag.).“Great financial gain and fame was the prize for victory”, causing many athletes push the rules in hopes of athletic achievement (Nowes n.pag).[4] The fist recorded cheating in Olympic history was 388 B.C., when a boxer named Eupolus bribed three opponents to purposely loose. His large fine was used to build six bronze statues of Zeus (“Cheating in the Ancient Olympic Games” n.

pag.).[5] The gods were thought to take a deep interest in the games and some religious significance attached to winning and losing.When the Romans gained control of Greece in 393 A.D., the practice of the Olympic games ceased. Transition to Modern Olympic and how they came about In 1894, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, from France and a group of largely aristocratic young, European men came together and wished to offer an alternative to fighting and bloodshed. Thus began the modern Olympic movement.

Coubertin “strongly believed in the ideals that sport possessed the power to benefit humankind and encourage peace among the nations of the world” (“Modern Olympic Movement: Aspects of the Olympic Games” n.pag.). [6]The idealistic founders created the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to guide their new enterprise and the participating countries formed their own National Olympic Committees.

The IOC had very few rules when the Olympics began. As long as the athlete was a citizen of the nation he represented, he was allowed to compete. Before World War One and when the games resumed after the Great War the competition reached a high point in athletic cooperation.

The first international Olympic games were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece and were attended by only thirteen countries and fewer than two hundred and fifty athletes. These games included events in weightlifting, tennis, swimming, wrestling, shooting, gymnastics, fencing, and cycling. No women could compete in the first games. In the 1900 Paris games, however, eleven women were allowed to participate. Since then, rates of women’s participation have increased to equal those of men.Modern Olympics Beginning in 1896, the Modern Olympic games, enforced many strict rules, carried out by the International Olympic Committee. The governors of the IOC bear extensive responsibilities including, “ the encouragement and support of the promotion of ethics in sports.

” Their principles “oppose any political or commercial abuse of sports and athletes, and… lead the fight against doping in sport” (“Ancient Olympic Games: n.pag). [7]The original ideals were based on upholding good sportsmanship and fair play and still hold true today (Guttmann 12).[8] Although this committee closely regulates the rules, many athletes and even entire countries have tried to slip past the rules and continue to seek loopholes.

Throughout the past fifty years, many of the Olympic rules have been adapted and changed, as circumstances have demanded. When the Olympics began, the games welcomed amateur athletes, but professionals were not allowed to compete. Now, professional athletes can take part. However, no athlete, amateur or professional, may receive payment for performance in Olympic contests.Nationalism and the Olympic Ideals The early modern Olympics were characterized by severe nationalism. After many years of wars and varying political ideals countries felt that the Olympics were a great opportunity to validate their political systems and national identity.

Countries have taken great risks and extensive measures to appear to be on the top of the political scene. China, East Germany and the Soviet Union have taken especially large measures to strengthen their countries.