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Were the ancient games better than ours More fair and square More about sports and less about money Are modern games more sexist More political Have we strayed from the ancient Olympic ideal Its easy to assume that the ancient Olympic Games were different that ancient Greek athletes were pure in mind and body that they trained and competed for no other reason than the love of physical exercise fair competition and to honor their gods In fact politics nationalism commercialism and athletics were intimately related in the ancient Olympic games We may not realize it but in todays games we recreate --with surprising accuracy -- the climate and circumstances surrounding the ancient Olympic games From the ancient Mount Olympus home of the Greek gods to Salt Lake Citys Mt Olympus the Olympic games may have come full circle The ancient Games began as part of a religious festival and in 2002 they will play out in Utah a land founded as a religious sanctuary The original physical contests -- conducted in the nude to display the athletes ideal bodies -- were sandwiched between processions sacrifices altar rituals and banquets There was no such thing as secular athletics said David Gilman Romano who has written extensively about Olympic origins The revelries were held in a stadium near the temple of Zeus in Olympia southwest of Athens The temple housed a 45-foot-high ivory and gold statue of the god that was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world Feats of prowess and agility were meant to please Zeus said Romano senior research scientist at the University of Pennsylvanias Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology Soon games were held at several sacred spots in the Greek city-states including Nemea Delphi and Corinth and honored their gods -- Zeus Apollo and Poseidon
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