Since the four yearly cycle of the modern Olympic began in 1896,it has been disrupted were revived as a forum for peaceful competition among the world’s finest athletes. But the mood of international rivalry surrounding them reflects the tensions that lay behind their origins
Ancient Greece never became unified as a nation; feuding between its city states prevented any lasting political cohesion. And yet, once every four years in the month of July, internal warfare was formally suspended. A scared truce was observed between the states, and for more than 1000 years from 776 BC to AD 393 the games remained the collective expression of a theme central to Greek civilization: the pursuit of excellence.
Today, the ruins of Olympia still stand in testimony to the glory of the ancient festival of sports. They lie in a fertile valley on the Peloponnese peninsula in southern Greece, nestled between two rivers the Alpheus, and its tributary, the Claudius.
Archaeological evidence indicates that Olympia was a place of worship in prehistoric times. Later, it became associated with festivities honouring Zeus, the greatest of Gods. According to legend, Zeus started the tradition of games at Olympia when he wrestled there with his father, fighting for kingship over the gods. Lesser deities then came to the same spot to test their strength. Here Apollo boxed against Ares, the god of war, and ran against Hermes, the messenger. Olympia became a place of divine contest, bounded by rules established by the mighty Hercules.