Saturday 10 December 2016

Modern Olympians still embody the spirit of ancient games

Published 02/08/2016 | 02:30

Olympic Gold medallist boxer Katie Taylor in the Irish kit for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games
Olympic Gold medallist boxer Katie Taylor in the Irish kit for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games

The opening ceremony of the summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXXI Olympiad, takes place at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro this Friday. The modern Olympic Games (or Olympics) are the world's leading international festival of sport in which over 10,000 athletes from 206 nations will participate in 42 sports from August 5-21.

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The creation of the modern Olympics was inspired by the ancient Olympic Games, which were held in Olympia, Greece, from 776BC to 393AD as a part of a pagan festival to honour Zeus, the father of the Greek gods. The Greeks who competed at Olympia were all male citizens of the city-states from every corner of the Greek world, coming from as far away as Iberia (Spain) in the west and the Black Sea (Turkey) in the east.

Theodosius the Great, Roman Emperor from 379AD to 395AD, decreed Nicene Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. In 393AD he banned the pagan rituals of the Olympics in ancient Greece. It took 1,503 years for the Olympics to return.

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