The Olympic Games by Kunika Khera from Army Institute of Law
The Olympics is the most significant sporting event at the global level in the contemporary times with participants from more than 200 nations. The competitions are held every four years, with the Summer and Winter Olympics alternating every two years. The Games aim to encourage and resurrect sports at the international stage.
While actual origin of the Olympics remains in question, it is widely accepted that they date back to around 3000 years in Greece. By the end of 6th century, there were four sporting events:
- the Olympic Games
- the Pythian Games
- the Nemean Games
- the Isthmian Games.[i]
The Ancient Games included athletics, a jumping event, discus and javelin throws, foot race, boxing, wrestling, pankration, and horse riding events.[ii]
The Games were organised in the honour of Zeus. Legend states that it was his son, Heracles who had created the word ‘Olympics’ and founded the Games to be held every four years. The myth also states that the first Olympic champion was a cook from Elis called Coroebus.
The Ancient Olympics later lost its glory due to the rising impact of Romans. They were finally stopped by Theodosius I or his son in 400 BCE.
Revival of Olympics
After several years of labouring and pushing, the Modern Olympics were revived. It was Baron Pierre de Coubertin who was first inspired to form the International Olympic Committee (IOA). The Greek writer Demetrius Vikelas was elected as the first president.
The first Olympics held under the sponsorships of the IOC was held in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens in 1896. The Games had participants from 14 nations and 241 athletes who competed in 43 events.[iii] The next Olympics was held in Paris. The 2016 Rio Olympics marked the 31st Olympiad.
The Olympic symbol or the Olympic rings represent the idea of Olympic Charter. It consists of five entwined rings representing harmony between five continents (Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and America). Each colour (blue, yellow, red, green and black) represents each continent. The flag also depicts the five rings over a white field. The flag was first flown in 1920 Antwerp Olympics.
The motto of the games is ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’, which a Latin phrase for “Faster, Higher, Stronger” which had been coined by Coubertin’s friend, a Dominican priest, Henri Didon. The motto was officially adopted in 1924.
Pierre de Coubertin also formulated the Olympic creed. It states the following:
“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”[iv]
The Olympic flame is another symbol. It is ignited in Olympia months before the games. This is followed by a torch relay. Apart from this, each game also has an official mascot, an animal or human figure, usually a symbol of the legacy and ethos of the hosting country.
India and Olympics
India participated at Olympics in 1900 with a single sportsman, Norman Pritchard. It won two silvers in athletics. India also participated in the Winter Olympics from 1964. India has a total of 28 medals (9 G, 7 S and 12 B) till date. The Indian Hockey Team was in the top spot for ephemeral period of time; winning eight gold medals in total for the nation.
In 1927, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) became a formal and official body to organize and promote developmental sports. The main task is to select participants and formulate teams to send to Olympics.
Karnam Malleshwari was the first Indian woman to win a medal at Olympics. She had won a bronze in Women’s 69 kg category in Weightlifting. P.V. Sindhu, Mary Kom, Saina Nehwal and Sakshi Malik are other sportswomen who have won medals for the nation.
Like many international events, the Olympics have also had their fair share of controversies and scandals.
The event has been boycotted by various nations for several political or social reasons. For example, the government of Georgia boycotted the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Russia due to South Ossentia War events.
The event has also seen the use of performance enhancing drugs and doping. It was only in 1999 that the IOC formulated the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in response to the growing use of drugs.
The development of Olympic Games proved to be a historic move in the field of sports. It has revolutionized the arena of games and has played a very important role in encouraging and fostering new skills and talents. As Pierre de Coubertin, the father of Modern Olympics said. “In the Olympic Oath, I ask for only one thing: sporting loyalty.”[v]
[i] Young and Abrahams, Olympic Games, https://www.britannica.com/sports/Olympic-Games.
[ii] Ancient Olympic Games, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/Olympics/sports.html.
[iii]Athen 1896, https://www.olympic.org/athens-1896.
[iv] The Olympic Symbols, http://www.webcitation.org/5gKlcLlT9?url=http://multimedia.olympic.org/pdf/en_report_1303.pdf.
[v]Pierre De Coubertin Quotes, https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/p/pierre_de_coubertin.html.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article or any other publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Educoncours or its members.