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Today the Olympic Games are the worlds largest pageant of athletic skill and competitive spirit They are also displays of nationalism commerce and politics These two opposing elements of the Olympics are not a modern invention The conflict between the Olympic movements high ideals and the commercialism or political acts which accompany the GameThe ancient Olympics were rather different from the modern Games There were fewer events and only free men who spoke Greek could compete instead of athletes from any country Also the games were always held at Olympia instead of moving around to different sites every time Like our Olympics though winning athletes were heroes who put their home towns on the map One young Athenian nobleman defended his political reputation bymentioning how he entered seven chariots in the Olympic chariot-race This high number of entries made both the aristocrat and Athens look very wealthy and powerfulThe ancient Olympic Games was also a part of a major religious festival honoring Zeus the chief Greek god were the biggest event in their world They were the scene of political rivalries between people from different parts of the Greek world the site of controversies boasts public announcements and humiliations Politics were present at the ancient Olympics in many forms In 365 BC the Arcadians and the Pisatans took over the Altis and they presided over the 104th Olympiad the next year When the Eleans finally regained control of Olympia they declared the 104th Games invalid Some valuable political deeds were recorded at Olympia An inscription on a victory statue honored Pantarces of Elis not only for winning in the Olympic horse-races but also for making peace between the Achaeans and the Eleans and negotiating the release of both sides prisoners of war Olympia was also a place for announcing political alliances Thucydides describes a 100-year military treaty the Athenians Argives Mantineans and Eleans entered into which was recorded in public inscriptions on stone pillars
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