3 Olympic Myths You Must Know

Written by azhar.

The 2008 Olympic Games, which opens in Beijing on August 8 this year, will be a multi-billion dollar sports spectacle watched by more than 3.7 billion television viewers all over the world. The 16-day event will showcase some 10,500 athletes from at least 205 nations. The year's biggest sporting tournament will witness athletes vying to try to emulate the past Olympic Games records.

Drug scandals have marred recent Games, the most publicized of which is the case of American sprinter Marion Jones who was stripped of all her five Olympic medals - three of them gold. In the preparation to win a coveted medal in the Games, many athletes have decided to drop their sporting ethics and take performance-enhancing drugs to increase their chances of winning over other competitors.

The Olympic Games is popular for the images which portrayed athletes practising sportsmanship in every game. This year's Olympic Games has been tarnished by the political instability between China and Tibet. Besides that, terrorism is also a main concern for the Games. China has created a special 100,000 anti-terrorist force for the Olympics, reinforcing the impression that the Games will be dominated by tough security measures.

August 8 will once again display the Olympic traditions all in one tournament. The 'Olympic Spirit', Olympic Marathon and Olympic Torch are three of the practices believed to be the most ancient and rich in history. Nevertheless, some historians believe that the original Olympic Games was simply not true or quite modern in origin. In fact, the three most ancient traditions mentioned above were touted as Olympic myths.

The 'Olympic Spirit'
The Olympic ideal of friendly competition in an atmosphere of brotherhood and peaces among nations is pure hogwash. It is a misinterpretation of the Olympic Truce, which began around the eighth century BC and forbade all participating countries from engaging warfare before, during and after the original five-day event. The objective behind the Olympic Truce is to prevent any war casualties.

The first Olympics themselves were 'war games' held in an atmosphere of enforced peace. The Greeks used the Games to prepare themselves for battle. Wendy J.Raschke, a professor at the University of California (Riverside) says, "The Games were an important aspect of a warriors life, an exemplification of his arete (prowess)"

Games such as the long jump and the javelin throw were all aimed towards war; there was no intention of peace. The most popular contest was the pankration, a violent and bloody street brawl in which the only thing forbidden was biting or gouging out an opponent's eyes. The 'Olympic Spirit' was not present in the early Games. In the fourth century BC, a dispute between two towns near the Olympic site -Elis and Pisa- broke into a warfare.

Furthermore, cheating was also widespread during the Games. Bribery was especially prominent. Eupolos, a boxer from Thessaly, won by bribing his opponents. Some of the competitors used methods which gave them an advantage over their opponents. Wrestlers, for example, secretly oiled parts of their bodies to prevent an opponent's grip. Sportsmanship was sidelined during the games; all the competitors wanted was winning.

The Marathon Myth
Legend says that the Athenians defeated the Persians on the plain of Marathon on 490 BC, and the Greek leaders sent the runner Pheidippides to Athens to announce the victory. He ran the distance, declared, "Rejoice! We conquer!" and dropped dead. This legend will be broadcasted to 3.7 billion television viewers again this year.

The longest race in the early Games was only a five kilometres. The marathon was created and included in the Games only some 2,500 years later. It was part of the programme of the first modern Olympics held in Athens in 1896 to commemorate the ancient run, which may or may not have happened.

David E.Martin in his book, The Olympic Marathon, explains, "When the ancient games of the Olympia were about to be reborn in Athens in 1896 in the form of a global sports competition, it became appropriate for this legendary run...to assume a modern reality."

The first Olympic marathons were initially conducted in varying distances, ranging from 39,996 to 42,750 metres. Now, a fixed 42,195 metres will be used for every Olympic Games since the 1924 Games in Paris. The Olympic Marathon was not really ancient like what many people believe; in fact, it was quite modern.

The Olympic Torch
The Olympic Torch, also known as the Olympic Flame, was believed to be a tradition to commemorate the theft of fire from the Greek God Zeus by Prometheus, its origins lie in ancient Greece, when a fire was kept burning throughout the celebration of the ancient Olympics. The Olympic Torch will be carried by athletes all around the world, stopping in all cities that have hosted the past Olympics, before arriving in Beijing to open the 2008 Olympic Games in August.

However, this ancient practice goes back merely 68 years to Nazi Germany. For the 1936 Games in Berlin, Adolf Hitler's minions decided that a torch relay would be a nice touch that would link the thousand-year Reich (empire) that Hitler fantasized about to antiquity and give it a classical patina. What we believe today as a symbol of global harmony was actually a Nazi propaganda ploy, manufactured by the giant German munitions company headed by Alfred Krupp.


Don said...


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Our site:

URL: http://www.2008chinaolympics.com
Title: Beijing Olympics

Please let me know if you want a link back.
Many thanks for your reply.

Best Regards,


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