The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Summer Olympics 2008 Coming

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The summer Olympics will begin this August. The Olympics are an international cooperative athletic contest held every two years, alternating winter and summer Games. Before 1992, the summer and winter games were held in the summer and winter of the same year, so that four years passed between each Olympic year, called an Olympiad.

Estimates on the date of the first recorded Olympic Games in ancient Greece vary around the early 800's BC, with indications of regular games held far earlier. The first events were foot races. Soon wrestling and the pentathlon (five events by one athlete) were added. More events followed.

The games and ceremonies emphasized reverence to heaven, ability of body and mind, plus nakedness and deliberate gore for the ratings (popularity). Olympics continued in Greece every four years for about a thousand years. After the Romans gained power in Greece, Emperor Theodosius I outlawed the Olympics in the year 393 AD because they (the Games) weren't Christian.

Fifteen hundred years passed. In 1894 the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was founded to rekindle the Olympic games. In 1896, the first modern Summer Olympics was held in Athens Greece. Fourteen nations participated track and field, fencing, weightlifting, rifle and pistol shooting, tennis, cycling, swimming, gymnastics, and wrestling. No women were allowed to compete. The IOC director stated that including women would be, "impractical, uninteresting, unaesthetic, and incorrect."

The following Olympics in Paris in 1900 allowed eleven women to compete in lawn tennis and golf. This August, it is projected that athletes will compete in 302 events in 28 different sports. At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin Italy there were 84 events in 7 sports. Currently, 203 countries participate in the Olympics. This is higher than the 193 countries who presently belong to the United Nations.

There are debates whether countries or heads of state should boycott Olympics to make influential political statements. Several boycotts have been held by various countries over several Olympics. In many Olympic years, different political topics from war, to the interpersonal war of apartheid, to the status of the country of Taiwan, have been focus for boycott. This year it is position of the country of Tibet in relation to the host country of China. As one of the swimmers who felt the impact of the 1980 boycott because of events in Afghanistan, I know it is a difficult thing to decide either way. Consider this: today, Olympics are boycotted over wars. In ancient Greece, wars were postponed and ceasefires called to observe and honor the Olympics.

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About the Author


M.Ed, PhD, FAWM

Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.

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