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Revival of the classical Olympiad in Olympia

Revival of the classical Olympiad:

A prerequisite for the maintenance of the Olympic Ideal

The Olympic Games of Antiquity

In the Antiquity of the Greek humanism and contrary to global theocracy, the organized Olympic Games were the most important of all Greek and International Games. At the same time they were the greatest sporting and religious celebration in honor of Zeus.

Apart from theirathletic and religious character, the Games had political content as well. This is because during the Games political discussions were also organized every year in the three sanctuaries of ancient Greece, that Delphi, the Isthmus and Nemea, and every fourth year at Olympia. In this manner the Greeks did politics and diplomacy.

The fame of the sanctuary of Olympia was spread throughout the Greek world and flourished as a center nationwide, in which the Greeks had the opportunity to communicate with each other, exchange ideas, form opinions, to teach and to be taught. The Olympics highlighted the ethnic, cultural and spiritual unity of the ancient Greeks. During the games hostilities ceased, exalting them into the Panhellenic symbol of peace and unity.

In the historical evolution of mankind, the Olympic Games were held for the first time in 776 BC in Ancient Olympia and were held every four years during the summer months (July-August). They lasted five days and included the following sports: road racing, Wrestling, Boxing, Pankration, Chariot and the pentathlon, which consisted of the sports: road racing, Jumping, Fighting, Discus and Javelin.

They were conducted at the Stadium, the Palestra and the Hippodrome in front of thousands of spectators from all the cities of the known Greek world. The winners were crowned with a wreath of wild olive branch, the kotinos, and enjoyed special honors from their homeland. The participants followed common sporting rules, which were established for the conduct of the games.

They were abolished in 393 AD by decree of Emperor Theodosius, when the Byzantine Empire was at the height of theocracy. Thus, an entire athletic culture of the Greek anthropocentric movement with its extensions, which lasted 1,169 years, vanished.

The modern Olympic Games

In 1896 revive in Athens the Olympic Games only in terms of their athletic part, in the form of international sports competitions, following the actions of Demetrius Vikelas and Pierre de Coubertin.

In the first modern Olympic Games, that took place with great splendor in the Panathenaic Stadium in Athens, participated 295 athletes from fifteen countries.The sports included in the competition were both part of the ancient Olympic Games as well as the then modern athletics. Thus, with the new athletic data, the Olympic spirit, the spirit of sportsmanship, peace and humanism did not stay in its native Greece, but spread around the world. In 1936 was introduced the lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame in Olympia and its transfer to the stadium were the Games would take place by means of torchbearers.

After the revival of the Olympic Games there was a continuous modernization of sports, which gradually removed them from the Olympic athletic tradition. At the same time, significant are the economic, social and political dimensions they indirectly received through the years. In the hundred and more years of their existence they have gradually acquired gigantic proportions and evolved following the dynamic growth of the athletics and the socioeconomic and political conditions in the modern era. In this way the Olympics have become the most important sports event of mankind, in which thousands of athletes participate from almost all countries of the world and are watched by billions of viewers. However, the evolution, gigantism and commercialization of the modern international Olympic Games take place at the expense of the Olympic ideal. We have now been removed from the Olympic ideal; we have lost the values ​​of tradition.

For the reasons mentioned above

The undersigned Professor and 92 freshmen students of Primary Education that signed this text

propose:

The revival of the classical Olympiad in Olympia

We believe that modern Olympic Games can acquire over time a more healthy value-basis, if they reconnect to their 1,196 years’ tradition. The organization of the classical Olympiad in Olympia may act as a counterbalance of their evolution, with the following objectives:

1. To project the original Olympic ideal,

2. To contribute to the establishment of the Olympic ideal measure,

3. To be a counterpart of values ​​for the general development of modern international Olympic Games and

4. To be the forerunner of the modern international Olympics organization.

Our ambition is the classic Olympiad to be the measure of moral values and recharging of the Olympic Spirit in the modern Olympic Games.

Content of the classical Olympiad

As has already been mentioned, at the Olympic Games of Antiquity were held three types of events: athletic, political and religious. In today’s globalized world the revival of the athletic part of the classical Olympiad must be accompanied by the realization of respective political and cultural events.

Athletic part

The athletic part of the classical Olympiad will include the events of classical times mentioned above and the Marathon race. In the revived classical Olympiad, in contrast to ancient times, will have the right to participate athletes from around the world, both men and women.

Before the commencement of the classical Olympiad the lighting ceremony of the Olympic flame will take place in the Stadium of Olympia, where it will burn throughout the duration of the games.The flame will be carried by means of torchbearers in all the ancient stadiums, palaestrae and racecourses of modern Greece (eg Messina, Rhodes, Delphi, Dodona, Isthmia, Philippi, etc.) and areas abroad where there is a corresponding infrastructure from Hellenism of the classical era (Southern Italy, Asia Minor, Egypt, etc.), where the qualifying matches will take place, with the consent of the respective countries.

The finals will be held in Olympia, following the ritual of the classical era. With the announcement of the winners their crowning with the kotinos will take place and commemorative medalswill be granted.

Political part

Political events will be meetings with participation from all over the world, aiming at exercising global diplomacy and the formation of strategies for the operation and democratization of the political systems, as well as the conservation and development of world peace and humanism.

Culturalpart

On the other hand, cultural events will be an international meeting of all the cultural hues of today’s globalized society.

Both the political and cultural events will take place in ancient theaters of Greece and other countries where there is an infrastructure since antiquity, under the auspices of the municipalities where the theaters belong, in collaboration with voluntary movements. The classic open theaters in Greece that can meet the demands of these events and can be used to carry them are, among others, the theatres of: Epidaurus, Dodona, Herodium, Elis, Messina, Nicopolis, Philippi, Delphi, Patras etc.

Closure of the classical Olympiad – Delivery of the Olympic flame

The classical Olympiad will precede the modern international Olympic Games and its date of realization will be derived from the date of the modern Olympic Games. During the closing ceremony the Olympic flame will be delivered to the respective representative of the country and the city that will host the modern Olympic Games, in accordance to the existing ritual, in order to begin its long journey to humanity.

In order to fight for the revival of the classical Olympiad, we request for your active participation with your signature.

Thus you will contribute to the enhancement and promotion of the Olympic ideals and the restoration of Hellenism and humanism in the international spotlight.

Prof. Dr. Pantelis Georgogiannis

Department of Primary Education, University of Patras

Content © Hellenic Electronic Center for the Revival of the Classic Olympiad