Oxted & District History Society - Talk
Oxted & District History Society

Keith Louis, President of the Oxted & District History Society, replaced the advertised speaker, who was ill, with an illustrated lecture on the ‘Ancient & Modern Olympic Games’.

The Ancient Olympic Games were held every 4 years for over 1000 years at Olympia.  Women were banned from attending the Games as the men competed naked. The Ancient Olympic Games took place over 5 days, with running over various distances, chariot and horse racing.  On the final day, wreaths made from branches from a sacred olive tree were awarded to the victors.  When the winners arrived home they were much honoured with statues, money and gifts.  The main events were on the 200 yard long track.  Wrestling was very popular and boxing was even more dangerous.

What is recognised as the first Modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896.  White City was built for the 1908 London Olympics.  In 1920, the  Olympic flag appeared and the 1936 Berlin Olympics were hijacked by the Nazis for propaganda purposes.  The 1972 Munich massacre and boycotts by various countries in the 1970s and 1980s took the edge off the Games’ popularity.  Professional competitors were eventually allowed to take part.  The first spectacular opening ceremony was at Barcelona in 1992.  The original aim of the Olympic Games continues to stretch human ability to its utmost.