Dark history of the Olympics

Why did they really bring back the Olympics? What was the end goal?

Ancient Greece first created the Olympic Games as old as 3000 years ago. The games were held in Olympia, which was located off the western Peloponnese peninsula. They chose that location to honour the god, Zeus. The games would be held every four years.

The ancient games continued, even after the Roman Empire conquered Greece in the middle of the 2nd century. The Olympic Games were still widely known, even the Emperor Nero entered to participate in the Olympic chariot race.

During the race, Emperor Nero fell off his chariot in front of all to see. Even after losing, he declared himself as the victor, disgracing himself in front of his soldiers and the general public.

The ancient Olympic Games ended in 393 AD after the Christian Emperor Theodosius I, banned all ‘pagan’ festivals.

Rebirth of the Olympics

Pierre de Coubertin, a French citizen who devoted his entire life to education, history and sociology, founded the International Olympic Committee (IOC). This move was to promote peace and to make the world a better place for the young generations through sports. They created rules and guidelines, encouraging all to participate.

In 1936, Germany hosted the Summer Olympics. Nazi Germany used that moment for propaganda purposes. They revealed their antisemitic agenda. Their plans were to target both Jews and Romans, who they saw were gypsies. They also used the Olympic Games to promote their plans for territorial expansion, introducing the image of a new, united Germany.

Chapter 5 of the Olympic Charter states:

‘No kind of demonstration or political, religious, or racial propaganda is permitted in the Olympic areas.’

However, following World War II (WWII), the olympics found itself again, tangled with politics. This had to do with the significance of participation at the Olympic games. In other words, for those who were chosen to participate, it symbolized political recognition, as well as legitimacy.

Due to their envolvement in the second World War, Germany and Japan were not ‘invited’ to the London Olympic Games in 1948. The Soviet Union was invited although did not show up.

The Olympic Games became a battle of countries rather than a competition of athletes. Each country tried to shine in the spotlight, attempting to show the world that they were the most powerful. They tried to pass political views during that time, trying to gain support of the people and cause even further issues.

Many countries did not participate back then. In fact, South Africa had not participated in the Olympics since the Rome’s Olympic Games in 1960. The country was expelled by the IOC due to its policies regarding apartheid and racial segregation.


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