Zed P. Reyes
September 24, 2012
Every four years athletes from all over the world converge to one place to take place in the Olympic Games. The Olympics have gone through a large amount of changes, from its roots in ancient Greece or the 2012 games which took place in London. Sporting controversy is surely expected in Olympic Games. The games have also been strife with political controversy, since this is an event that the whole world takes place in, they are often used as a stage for political protest; as seen in the 1936 summer Olympics and the Munich massacre in Germany. Lastly, the games are the showcase for the greatest athletes in the world, such as Michael Phelps.
The true origins of the Olympic Games are shrouded in mystery. What the Olympics represented in the past is nothing like how it is today. According to Gil (2012), “Conventionally, the ancient Olympic games began in 776 B.C., based on records of stade-length races.” (http://ancienthistory.about.com….htm) Inferring from this information we are only lead to believe that there were perhaps previous games held, but we shall never know. What we do know about the Olympics, however, is that they are closely intertwined with ancient Greek mythology, which some may say dates the games back to as early as 500 B.C... “Let us begin… in a horse race event of the Olympics of 476 B.C.. (Nag, 1997, Chapter 4.) According to this information there were games, that, although were purely mythical, dated far back as 476 BC, a full three hundred years before the first recorded Olympics.
1936 Summer Olympics (Nazi Olympics)
In 1936 the Olympics were held in Berlin, Germany. These Olympic games were important for a few reasons, they were held right before the outbreak of WWII (consequently it was the only Olympic game held until after the war was over), The United States and Great Britain threatened to boycott the games, it was center stage for Hitler to prove his “Master Race” theory, and it was here where the Olympic torch relay was created. The games were first awarded to the city in 1931, two years before the Nazis came into power. “ The IOC (International Olympic Committee) awarded the 1936 Summer games to Berlin in 1931, when that city was still the capital of a parliamentary democracy…” (Large, 2007, p12). Following the Nazi rule after the games, World War II broke out, consequently there were no more Olympic games held out during that catastrophic event. These games were clouded with so much controversy that the United States and Great Britain both threatened to boycott them. According to Large (2007), “the possibility of an American boycott of the 1936 Olympics posed the most serious threat to the Nazi Games…” “the British Olympic Association (BOA) let it be known that it too had doubts about sending athletes to Germany.” The reason being for these countries possibly withdrawing from the games was because of the Nazi ideals/mindset, if we take a look at “Before the Nazis came to power in 1933, they had often expressed contempt for the ideals of the modern Olympic movement, whose professed commitment to world peace and international understanding clashed dramatically with their own worldview.” (Large, 2007, pg 12) Here we can see that this mindset translated into what the Nazis are best known for; inequality, racism, and bigotry. While the 1936 Olympic Games were controversial to say the least, there is some light that came out of that dark tunnel. For instance, the Olympic torch relay,”was an ‘invented tradition’ within the invented tradition of the modern Olympic Games.” (Large, 2007,).
1948 Summer Olympics (Austerity Games)
The 1948 Summer Olympics also known as the “Austerity Games,” named so for the economic state of being and post-war rationing which took place, were the first games to be held following World War II. These Olympic Games were important in reality; they were more than...