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Olympic Games

Olympic Games

The Olympic Games (Olympiads) are the largest modern international complex sports competitions held every four years. The Summer Olympic Games have been held since 1896 (only during the world wars, these competitions were not held). The Winter Olympics, established in 1924, were originally held in the same year as the Summer Olympics. But in 1994, it was decided to move the time of the Winter Olympic Games by two years relative to the time of the Summer Olympics.

According to Greek myths, Hercules established the Olympics after the successful completion of one of the glorious deeds-feats: the cleaning of the Augean stables. According to another version, these competitions marked the successful return of the Argonauts, who, at the insistence of Hercules, swore to each other in eternal friendship. In order to adequately celebrate this event, a place was chosen above the Alpheus River, where a temple to the god Zeus was later erected. There are also legends telling that Olympia was founded by an oracle named Yam or by the mythical hero Pelops (the son of Tantalus and ancestor of Hercules, king of Elis), who won the chariot race of Enomai, king of the city of Pisa.

Modern archaeological scientists believe that competitions like the Olympic ones were held in Olympia (western Peloponnese) around the 9th-10th centuries. BC. And the most ancient document, which describes the Olympic Games dedicated to the god Zeus, dates back to 776 BC. According to historians, the reason for such a high popularity of sports competitions in Ancient Greece is extremely simple - the country at that time was divided into small city-states, constantly at war with each other. In such conditions, in order to defend their independence and win the battle, both soldiers and free citizens were forced to devote a lot of time to training, the purpose of which was to develop strength, agility, endurance, etc.

The list of Olympic sports at the beginning consisted of only one discipline - sprint - 1 stage (190 meters). Runners lined up on the starting line to their full height, stretching their right hand forward, and waited for the signal from the judge (ellanodika). If one of the athletes was ahead of the start signal (i.e. there was a false start), he was punished - the judge beat the offending athlete with a heavy stick reserved for this purpose. Somewhat later, competitions appeared in long-distance running - in stages 7 and 24, as well as running in full combat gear and running after a horse.

In 708 BC. in the program of the Olympic Games, javelin throwing (the length of a wooden javelin was equal to the growth of an athlete) and wrestling appeared. This sport was distinguished by rather cruel rules (for example, tripping, grabbing an opponent by the nose, lip or ear, etc. were allowed) and was extremely popular. The winner was the wrestler who managed to knock the opponent to the ground three times.

In 688 BC. fist fighting was included in the list of Olympic sports, and in 676 BC. added a chariot race drawn by a four or a pair of horses (or mules). At first, the owner of the team was obliged to drive the animals himself, later it was allowed to hire an experienced driver for this purpose (regardless of this, the owner of the chariot received the winner's wreath).

Somewhat later, at the Olympics, competitions in long jump began to be held, and the athlete, after a short run, had to push off with both legs and sharply throw his arms forward (in each hand the jumper was holding a kettlebell, which should, as it were, carry him along). Also, the list of Olympic competitions included competitions for musicians (harpers, heralds and trumpeters), poets, orators, actors and playwrights. At first, the festival lasted one day, later - 5 days. However, there were times when the celebrations dragged on for a whole month.

To ensure the safety of the participants in the Olympics, three kings: Cleosthenes (from Pisa), Iphit (from Elis) and Lycurgus (from Sparta) concluded an agreement according to which during the games all hostilities ceased - messengers were sent from the city of Ellis, announcing a truce ( to revive this tradition already today, in 1992, the IOC tried, urging all the peoples of the world to abandon hostilities during the Olympics. In 1993, it was proclaimed that the truce must be observed "from the seventh day before the official opening of the Games until the seventh day after the official closure of the Games. "The corresponding resolution was approved in 2003 by the UN General Assembly, and in 2005, the above appeal was included in the" Millennium Declaration "signed by the leaders of many countries of the world).

Even when Greece, having lost its independence, became part of the Roman Empire, the Olympic Games continued to exist until 394 AD, when Emperor Theodosius I banned this type of competition, because he believed that the festival dedicated to the pagan god Zeus could not be held in empire, the official religion of which is Christianity.

The revival of the Olympics began about a hundred years ago, when in 1894 in Paris, on the initiative of the French educator and public figure Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the International Sports Congress approved the foundations of the Olympic Charter. It is this charter that is the main constitutional instrument that formulates the fundamental rules and main values ​​of Olympism. The organizers of the first revived Olympiad, wishing to give the competition the "spirit of antiquity", experienced many difficulties in choosing sports that could be considered Olympic. For example, after a long and heated debate, football was excluded from the list of competitions of the I Olympiad (1896, Athens), as members of the IOC argued that this team game differs sharply from ancient competitions - after all, in ancient times athletes played exclusively in individual competitions.

Sometimes quite exotic types of competitions were ranked as Olympic. For example, at the II Olympiad (1900, Paris), competitions in swimming underwater and swimming with obstacles were held (athletes covered a distance of 200 meters, diving under anchored boats and bending around logs submerged in the water). At the VII Olympiad (1920, Antwerp), they competed in throwing a javelin with both hands, as well as throwing a club. And at the V Olympiad (1912, Stockholm), athletes competed in long jump, high jump and triple standing jumps. Also, for a long time, tug-of-war and pushing cobblestone competitions were considered an Olympic sport (which was replaced only in 1920 by the core, which is still used today).

The judges also had a lot of problems - after all, in each country at that time there were different competition regulations. Since it was impossible to draw up uniform requirements for all participants in a short time, the athletes were allowed to compete in accordance with the rules to which they were accustomed. For example, the runners at the start could stand whatever they liked (taking a high start position, with their right arm extended forward, etc.). The "low start" position, generally accepted today, was accepted at the first Olympics by only one athlete - the American Thomas Bark.

The modern Olympic movement has a motto - "Citius, Altius, Fortius" ("Faster, Higher, Stronger") and its emblem - five intersecting rings (this sign was found by Coubertin on one of the Delphic altars). The Olympic rings are a symbol of the unification of the five continents (blue symbolizes Europe, black - Africa, red - America, yellow - Asia, green - Australia). Also, the Olympic Games have their own flag - a white cloth with Olympic rings. Moreover, the colors of the rings and the flag are chosen so that at least one of them is found on the national flag of any country in the world. Both the emblem and the flag were adopted and approved by the IOC at the initiative of Baron Coubertin in 1913.

Baron Pierre Coubertin was the first to propose the revival of the Olympic Games. Indeed, thanks to the efforts of this man, the Olympics have become one of the largest sports competitions in the world. However, the idea of ​​reviving this type of competition and bringing them to the world arena was expressed somewhat earlier by two more people. In 1859, the Greek Evangelis Zapas organized the Olympics in Athens for his own money, and the Englishman William Penny Brooks in 1881 invited the Greek government to hold competitions simultaneously in Greece and England. He also became the organizer of the Games called "Olympic Memory" in the town of Mach Venlock, and in 1887 - the initiator of the nationwide British Olympic Games. In 1890, Coubertin attended the games at Mach Venlock and praised the Englishman's idea. Coubertin understood that through the revival of the Olympics it was possible, firstly, to raise the prestige of the capital of France (it was in Paris, according to Coubertin, that the first Olympics should have taken place, and only persistent protests from representatives of other countries led to the fact that primacy was given to the homeland of the Olympic Games - Greece), secondly, to improve the health of the nation and create a powerful army.

The motto of the Olympics was invented by Coubertin. No, the Olympic motto, consisting of three Latin words - "Citius, Altius, Fortius!" was first pronounced by French priest Henri Didon at the opening ceremony of a sports competition in a college. Coubertin, who was present at the ceremony, liked the words - in his opinion, it is this phrase that expresses the goal of athletes around the world. Later, at the initiative of Coubertin, this statement became the motto of the Olympic Games.

The Olympic flame marked the beginning of all the Olympics. Indeed, in ancient Greece, competitors lit fire on the altars of Olympia to honor the gods. The honor to personally kindle the fire on the altar to the god Zeus was given to the winner of the running competition - the most ancient and revered sports discipline. In addition, in many cities of Hellas, competitions of runners with lighted torches were held - Prometheus, dedicated to the mythical hero, the godless and defender of people, Prometheus, who stole fire from Mount Olympus and gave it to people.

At the revived Olympic Games, the fire was first lit at the IX Olympiad (1928, Amsterdam), and, according to the researchers, it was not delivered, according to tradition, by the relay from Olympia. In fact, this tradition was revived only in 1936 at the XI Olympiad (Berlin). Since then, the running of the torchbearers, delivering the fire, kindled by the sun in Olympia, to the site of the Olympics is the solemn prologue of the games. The Olympic flame travels thousands of kilometers to the competition site, and in 1948 it was even transported across the sea to give rise to the XIV Olympics, held in London.

The Olympics have never caused conflicts. Unfortunately, they did. The fact is that the sanctuary of Zeus, at which the games were usually held, was under the control of the city-state of Ellis. According to historians, at least twice (in 668 and in 264 BC) the neighboring city of Pisa, using military force, attempted to seize the sanctuary, hoping in this way to gain control over the Olympics. After some time, a panel of judges was formed from the most respected citizens of the aforementioned cities, which evaluated the performance of the athletes and decided which of them would get the winner's laurel wreath.

In ancient times, only Greeks participated in the Olympics. Indeed, in ancient Greece, only Greek athletes had the right to participate in competitions - barbarians were prohibited from entering the stadium. However, this rule was abolished when Greece, having lost its independence, became part of the Roman Empire - representatives of different nationalities were allowed to participate in the competition. Even emperors condescended to participate in the Olympics. For example, Tiberius was the champion in chariot races, and Nero won the musician competition.

Women did not participate in the ancient Olympics. Indeed, in ancient Greece, women were not only forbidden to participate in the Olympic Games - beautiful ladies were not even allowed into the stands (an exception was made only for the priestesses of the goddess of fertility Demeter). Therefore, sometimes especially gambling fans indulged in tricks. For example, the mother of one of the athletes, Calipateria, disguised herself as a man and played the role of a coach perfectly to watch her son's performance. According to another version, she participated in a race of runners. Calipateria was identified and sentenced to death - the brave athlete was to be thrown from the Typhian rock. But, given that her husband was an Olympian (i.e., the winner of the Olympics), and her sons were the winners of the youth competitions, the judges pardoned Calipateria. But the panel of judges (Hellenodics) obliged athletes to continue to compete naked in order to avoid a repetition of the above incident. At the same time, it should be noted that girls in Ancient Greece did not shy away from playing sports, and they loved to compete. Therefore, Olympia hosted games dedicated to Hera (the wife of Zeus). In these competitions (to which, by the way, men were not allowed), only girls participated, competing in wrestling, running and chariot races, which took place in the same stadium a month before or a month after the competition of male athletes. Also, women athletes took part in the Isthmian, Nemean and Pythian Games.
Interestingly, the Olympic Games, which were revived in the 19th century, initially only competed exclusively with male athletes. Only in 1900 did women take part in competitions in sailing and equestrian sports, tennis, golf and croquet. And the representatives of the fair sex entered the IOC only in 1981.

The Olympics are just an opportunity to demonstrate strength and prowess, or a veiled way of choosing and training trained fighters. Initially, the Olympic Games were one of the ways to honor the god Zeus, part of a grandiose cult festival during which sacrifices were made to the Thunder God - out of the five days of the Olympics, two (the first and the last) were dedicated exclusively to solemn processions and sacrifices. However, over time, the religious aspect faded into the background, and the political and commercial component of the competition manifested itself more and more vividly.

In ancient times, the Olympic Games contributed to the peaceful coexistence of peoples - after all, during the Olympic truce, wars stopped. Indeed, the city-states participating in the games ceased hostilities for five days (that is how long the Olympics lasted) in order to allow athletes to easily reach the venue of the competition - in Elis. According to the rules, the participants of the competition and fans had no right to engage in a fight with each other, even if their states were at war with each other. However, this does not mean a complete cessation of hostilities - after the end of the Olympic Games, hostilities resumed. And the disciplines themselves, chosen for the competition, were more reminiscent of the training of a good fighter: javelin throwing, running in armor and, of course, the extremely popular pankration - a street fight, limited only by the prohibition to bite and gouge out the opponent's eyes.

The dictum "The main thing is not victory, but participation" was invented by the ancient Greeks. No, the author of the dictum "The most important thing in life is not victory, but participation. The essence of an interesting struggle" was Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who revived the tradition of the Olympic Games in the 19th century. And in ancient Greece, victory was the main goal of the competitors.In those days, prizes for second and third places were not even awarded, and the losers, as written sources testify, were very wounded by their defeat and tried to hide as soon as possible.

In ancient times, competitions were conducted honestly, only today athletes use doping to achieve better results, etc. Unfortunately, this is not the case. At all times, athletes, striving for victory, used not entirely honest methods. For example, wrestlers rubbed their bodies with oil in order to more easily release from the opponent's grip. Long distance runners "cut corners" or tripped opponents. There were also attempts to bribe judges. An athlete caught in a fraud had to fork out - with this money, bronze statues of Zeus were made, which were installed along the road leading to the stadium. For example, in the II century BC, during one of the Olympics, 16 statues were erected, which indicates that even in ancient times not all athletes played fair.

In ancient Greece, they competed only for the sake of obtaining a laurel wreath and unfading glory. Of course, praise is a pleasant thing, and his hometown greeted the winner with joy - the Olympian, dressed in purple and crowned with a laurel wreath, entered not through the gate, but through a specially prepared breach in the city wall, which was immediately sealed, "so that Olympic glory would not left the city. " However, it was not only the laurel wreath and the glorifications that were the aim of the competitors. The very word "athlete" in translation from ancient Greek means "competing for the prizes." And the awards that the winner received in those days were considerable. In addition to the sculpture erected in honor of the winner either in Olympia at the sanctuary of Zeus, or in the homeland of the athlete, or even deification, the athlete was entitled to a considerable sum for those times - 500 drachmas. In addition, he received a number of political and economic privileges (for example, exemption from all types of duties) and until the end of his days he had the right to dine daily free of charge in the city government.

The decision to end the fight between the wrestlers was taken by the judges. This is not true. Both in wrestling and in fist fighting, the fighter himself, who made the decision to surrender, raised his right hand with his thumb protruding upward - this gesture served as a signal of the end of the fight.

The athletes who won the competitions were crowned with laurel wreaths. This is really so - it was the laurel wreath that was the symbol of victory in Ancient Greece. And they were crowned not only with athletes, but also with horses, which ensured their master victory in the chariot competition.

The people of Elis were the best athletes in Greece. Despite the fact that in the center of Elis there was a pan-Hellenic shrine - the Temple of Zeus, at which the Olympics were regularly held, the inhabitants of this area enjoyed a bad reputation, for they were prone to drunkenness, lies, pederasty and laziness, little in line with the ideal of a strong in spirit and body of the population. However, they cannot be denied in belligerence and foresight - having managed to prove to the neighbors that Elis is a neutral country against which no war cannot be waged, the Eleians, nevertheless, continued to attack the nearby areas in order to capture them.

Olympia was located near the sacred Mount Olympia. Misconception. Olympus is the highest mountain in Greece, on the top of which, according to legend, the gods lived, located in the north of the country. And the city of Olympia was located in the south - in Elis, on the island of the Peloponnese.

In Olympia, in addition to ordinary citizens, lived the most famous athletes of Greece. Only priests permanently lived in Olympia, and athletes and fans, who flocked to the city in huge numbers every four years (the stadium was designed for the presence of 50,000 spectators!), Were forced to huddle in their own hand-made tents, huts, or even just under the open sky ... A leonidion (hotel) was built only for the guests of honor.

To measure the time it took athletes to overcome the distance, in Ancient Greece, clepsydra was used, and the length of the jumps was measured in steps. Instruments for measuring time (sundial or hourglass, clepsydra) were inaccurate, and distances were most often measured "by eye" (for example, a stage is 600 feet or the distance that a person can walk at a calm pace during a full sunrise, i.e. i.e. in about 2 minutes). Therefore, neither the distance covered nor the length of the jumps mattered - the winner was the one who came to the finish line first or jumped the farthest.
Even today, visual observation was used for a long time to assess the achievement of athletes - until 1932, when the stopwatch and photo finish were first used at the X Olympics in Los Angeles, which greatly facilitated the work of judges.

The length of the marathon distance has been constant since ancient times. Nowadays, a marathon (one of the disciplines of athletics) is a race at a distance of 42 km 195 m. The idea of ​​organizing the race was proposed by the French philologist Michel Breal. Since Coubertin and the Greek organizers liked this proposal, the marathon was one of the first to be included in the list of Olympic sports. A distinction is made between road marathon, cross-country running and half marathon (21 km 98 m). The road marathon has been included in the Olympic program since 1896 for men and since 1984 for women.
However, the length of the marathon distance has changed several times. Legend has it that in 490 BC. the Greek warrior Phidippides (Philippides) ran non-stop from Marathon to Athens (about 34.5 km) to please his fellow citizens with the news of victory. According to another version, set out by Herodotus, Phidippides was a messenger sent for reinforcements from Athens to Sparta and covered a distance of 230 km in two days.
At the first modern Olympics, marathon running competitions took place along a 40 km route between Marathon and Athens, but later the length of the distance varied within fairly wide limits. For example, at the IV Olympiad (1908, London) the length of the route laid from Windsor Castle (the royal residence) to the stadium was 42 km 195 m.At the V Olympiad (1912, Stockholm) the length of the marathon distance was changed to 40 km 200 m, and at the VII Olympics (1920, Antwerp), the runners had to cover a distance of 42 km 750 m.The length of the distance changed 6 times, and only in 1921 the final length of the marathon was set - 42 km 195 m.

Olympic awards are given to athletes who have shown the best results in competitions after a long struggle with worthy rivals. This is true, but there are exceptions to this rule. For example, gymnast Elena Mukhina, who injured her cervical vertebra at one of the training sessions a few days before the Olympics, was awarded the Olympic Order for Courage. Moreover, IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch personally presented the award to her. And at the III Olympics (1904, St. Louis, Missouri), American athletes became the unconditional winners due to the almost complete absence of competition - many foreign athletes who did not have enough money simply could not take part in the competition, giving the palm to the hosts of the Olympics ...

Athletes' equipment can influence the results of the competition. It really is. For comparison: at the first modern Olympics, athletes' uniforms were made of wool (an affordable and inexpensive material), shoes, the soles of which were supplied with special spikes, were made of leather. It is clear that such a form caused the competitors a lot of inconvenience. Swimmers suffered the most - after all, their suits were made of cotton fabric, and, becoming heavy from the water, slowed down the speed of the athletes. It should also be mentioned that, for example, for high jumpers with a pole, mats were not provided - the competitors were forced to think not only about how to overcome the bar, but also about the correct landing.
Nowadays, thanks to the development of science and the emergence of new synthetic materials, athletes experience much less discomfort. For example, track and field suits are designed to minimize the risk of muscle strain and reduce the force of wind resistance, while the silk and lycra-based material used in sportswear is low hygroscopic and allows moisture to evaporate quickly. For swimmers, special tight-fitting suits with vertical stripes are also created, allowing the most efficient way to overcome water resistance and develop the highest speed.
Sports shoes, specially designed taking into account the expected loads, also contribute to the achievement of high results. It was thanks to the new shoe model, equipped with inner tubes filled with carbon dioxide, that American decathlete Dave Johnson showed the best result in the 4x400 m relay in 1992.

Only young, strong athletes participate in the Olympic Games. Not necessary. The oldest participant in the Olympic Games - Oscar Swabn, a resident of Switzerland, took second place in shooting at the VII Olympics (1920, Antwerp) at the age of 72 years. Moreover, it was he who was selected to participate in the 1924 competitions, but for health reasons he was forced to refuse.

Most of the medals at the Olympics were won by athletes from the USSR (later - Russia). No, in the overall standings (according to data on all the Olympic Games, up to 2002 inclusive), the USA is superior - 2072 medals, of which 837 gold, 655 silver and 580 bronze medals. The USSR is in second place - 999 medals, of which 388 are gold, 317 are silver and 249 are bronze.


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