History of the Olympic Games – Behind the News

History of the Olympic Games – Behind the News


It all began in Ancient Greece about 3.000 years ago. No-one’s quite sure who
actually started the Games or why so let’s just say it was this guy. You know what? We should do this thing
where a bunch of people come and run and wrestle and do javelin and then, like, everyone comes
and sits and watches and then the winner, they, like,
get a crown or something. Hmm, that sounds
mildly entertaining. Let’s do it. Anyway, they decided the first known
Olympic Games should be held in an area named Olympia in 776 BC
in a rectangular stadium and the Games were dedicated
to the Greek God, Zeus The only people who could take part
were men of Greek origin. They were picked by their cities
and trained for months to complete. At first, there was only one sport,
a 200 metre sprint. Then they added longer running
events, boxing, equestrian, pankration – that’s an extreme mix
of boxing and wrestling – and pentathlon,
made up of five sports including javelin, discus
and long jump. Oh, and every athlete
competed in the nude. ALL: What?! But for the purposes of this story,
we won’t worry too much about that. Phew! Finally, all athletes and judges
took an oath to take part honourably and abide by the rules. Wait, does that mean I can’t cheat? No, of course not. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) At the end of an event,
there was only ever one award winner known as the Olympionic. They were crowned
with sacred olive branches and they were seen as a hero
in their home towns. Statues were often made
in their likeness and poems written
about their athletic feat. “He ran with the fierceness
of a goat, “dainty in hoof of feet.” I approve, I approve. The Olympics were held like that
every four years. And at first,
it was only a one-day thing but eventually it became even longer as the event became
more and more popular. The Games drew
tens of thousands of spectators and even when some Greek cities
were at war, they were brought together
by a sacred truce which meant that nobody could fight
during the Games so everybody could watch. After more than 1.000 years
of Games, this guy, Emperor Theodosius I
decided he didn’t like it very much and scrapped it and that was the end
of the ancient Olympics. It wasn’t until centuries later,
in 1894 that this guy, a French teacher and historian
named Pierre de Coubertin, founded
the International Olympic Committee. The IOC then organised the very
first modern Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, in 1896. Over the years, the Olympics
continued to change a lot. Competitors started coming from
all over the globe and, of course, female athletes
were finally included. One award changed to three medals, heaps of new sports were added – although some didn’t last – and huge ceremonies and TV broadcasts eventually became
part of the experience. COMMENTATOR: All of them got off
to a beautiful start. But if you watch closely, there are still plenty of traditions
in the modern Olympics that originated from ancient times. Like running races
and the pentathlon, the Olympic torch and, of course,
the four years between Games. So, the next time you watch
your favourite athletes go for gold, spare a thought for the ancient, uh,
nude Olympians who started it all.

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