Since 776 BC, the Olympics have staged the best of the athletes in the world, pitting them out against each other in a variety of competitions selecting the crème de la crème, the pinnacle of sporting perfection. Its roots as homage to god Zeus between a select few nationalities, has now sprung out into an international testament to sporting ability.
The Olympics were initially meant for Greek-speaking free men and were in a sense international as many Greeks came from other countries too. It took place every four years ritually in Olympia. Only men were allowed to participate though unmarried women were allowed to participate in a few games. But married women were not even allowed to watch. Most events concerned itself with athletics but wrestling, boxing were staged too. All athletes usually competed nude as a celebration of the accomplishment of the human body.
The modern take to the Olympics was introduced by Pierre de Coubertin in 1896, and to honour its Greek precursors, it was staged in Athens. There were only nine events, with a few of the events different from the ones staged in antiquity and many were scrapped off. It was a tremendous success and the revival was much-lauded. It was also decided that each Olympic event would be staged in different cities every four years, laying the foundation for future Olympics.
The next few years left the Olympics for dead. But development and gathering interest led to the tributary events such as the Winter Olympics, Paralympics, and more recently, the Youth Olympics.
The current version of the Olympics takes place over a period of approximately one month, with many stadia being rotated for different events. Members of the International Olympic Council (IOC) can participate by sending out number of athletes from their countries. There are a number of sports, currently 24 in the Summer version, and different events in each of them, numbering totally to over a hundred events. Each of these takes place simultaneously —a qualifier along with the finals and elimination rounds. Finally, the events lead up to gold, silver and bronze medal according to timing, matches won, or other criteria depending on the format of the sport.
The London 2012 Olympics are currently ongoing and are highly popular with millions of viewers all over the world. Internet tools such as YouTube have widened the number of viewers drastically. 204 Olympic countries are participating with over 10,000 athletes. A theme of sustainability and environmental awareness pervades the current version with many environmentally friendly solutions, such as clean energy, intense recycling and many others being employed.
The success of the Beijing Olympics is what London is trying to emulate but it has been marred by controversy, quite common in the long history of the Olympics. Controversy is to be expected and doping scandals, purposely losing, cheating, bribing have been unearthed earlier. The Olympics, nonetheless, are wildly popular simply due to the international fellowship every four years uniting the world to witness physical and psychological barriers being broken. Sport can transcend barriers and this has allowed the Olympics to truly become the platform for perfection.
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