Posted on: July 25th, 2012 by Mr Roaming 23 Comments

As it has happened since 1896, when the first Modern Olympics were revived in Athens, the time has come for London to hold the Games of the XXX Olympiad. The Games started from a small athletic meeting and have developed to a worldwide mega event with billions spent, hundreds of sponsors and thousands of participants. Somewhere in all the madness, the true Olympic Spirit of athletic participation and the honor of representing a nation have gotten lost.

It was not until the Opening Ceremony in the Athens 2004 Olympics that the world was reminded of the true meaning of this event once again: it is not the gold medals, the fame and fortune, the financial benefits for the sponsors and hosts alike. The true meaning of the Olympic Spirit is one of brotherhood, mutual respect, peace and honor in the participation of this glorious athletic event.

And now, it’s time for London. Despite the various organizational blunders, London must be ready. Let’s hope that the Spirit, which has traveled with the Olympic flame, lit in Olympia a few months ago, has arrived in the city of London. Let’s hope that the Games will once again be about the athletes and not the sponsors, they will be about the spirit of brotherhood, respect and honor, and not hatred and divisiveness.

The Olympic Anthem, which is sung in Greek during the Opening Ceremony of each Olympics, beautifully sums up this most honorable and spectacular of human gatherings (translated from the original Greek text):

Immortal spirit of antiquity

Father of the true, beautiful and good,

Descend, appear, shed over us thy light,

Upon this ground and under this sky,

Which has first witnessed thy perishable flame.

Give life and animation to these noble games.

Through wreaths of fadeless flowers to the victors,

In the race and in the strife,

Create in our breasts, hearts of steal.

In thy light, plains, mountains and seas,

Shine in a roseate hue and form a vast temple,

To which all nations throng to adore thee

Oh immortal spirit of antiquity! 

Here’s a look back at the early days from the New Yorker Photo Booth of some of these memorable games:

1924 Paris Games

Women compete in the National Round Archery event of the 1908 London Olympics

1908 London Olympics

1904 Olympic Games, in St. Louis, Missouri


23 Responses

  1. Jamie says:

    London’s organization seems so problematic. Let’s hope it turns out to be a great event.

  2. frank says:

    It seems that Athens would always be a logical choice as a host. From what I remember, 2004 went off without a hitch and I vaguely recall CNN even apologizing for the bad reporting …
    It is a shame that host cities have to put up with endless criticism on top of all the other pressures.

  3. graceie says:

    All this talk about the expense of hosting the Olympics. To me it seems logical: in order to bring the best athletes of the world to such an event, this costs money. I understand times are difficult, but the benefits far outweigh the costs.

  4. T.r. says:

    I disagree! The games should be hosted by those who can afford them …

  5. F45 says:

    Nonsense! Despite the fact that Athens is in a difficult financial situation currently, it hosting the Olympics was a destiny fulfilled. Indeed, the Olympic spirit was certainly revived during the opening ceremony and the rest of the games.
    All we can do now is wish London good luck. They have certainly had enough bad luck recently.

  6. Jason says:

    Great article and pictures Mr R. Indeed, in all the craziness, it’s so easy to forget what the games are all about …

  7. Carl says:

    I think the Olympics have grown to be too much of a spectacle.

  8. DS says:

    What amazing pictures and article, reminding us of the true spirit of athletics as envisioned by the Greeks. For anyone reading this, a trip to Olympia is life-changing. I visited two years ago when on a cruise through Greece and Italy. So wonderful …

  9. Andy says:

    Your article is great. It would seem that the spirit of the ancient Greek Olympics is alive and well. Let’s just hope we will see some evidence of that tonight in the opening ceremonies.

  10. William says:

    It is inevitable that the Olympics will be thrown into the hands of the sponsors. Afterall, someone needs to pay for this enormous event. But I do agree that more and more, the real meaning of the Games is slowly starting to go away.

  11. F.H. says:

    It’s finally time for the Olympics to start. Best of luck to London. I really enjoyed your collection of pictures.

  12. Peter says:

    I wonder what the opening ceremonies used to be like. Today, it is just a show. Danny Boyle, the director of Slumdog Millionaire, is the creative director of the opening ceremonies. I have a feeling this will be a British version of a Hollywood production.

  13. Marcella says:

    I know that the Olympic Anthem is always sung in Greek. however, I never knew the English translation. So inspiring! Thank you Mr. Roamings.

  14. Emily says:

    We need to get back to what the Greeks considered athleticism – honor in participation, peaceful competition and brotherhood.

  15. GF says:

    Was it me or was the Opening Ceremony completely lame and off the topic?

  16. James T says:

    Did anyone watch the Opening last night? I didn’t get it . . . The smokestacks, the grass, the dancing nurses. It all seemed like a nightmare to me.

  17. Joanna says:

    Speaking of the Olympics, is it me, or was the Ceremony basically about phone texting and some kids waking up and going to sleep? I thought the whole thing was kind of dumb.

  18. Rachel says:

    I love the Olympics. I hope London lives up to the hype. Until now, I’m not very impressed. But there is still time I hope. watching them play beach volleyball in the the rain was so depressing today. Where’s the sun?

  19. Nancie says:

    Your blog is so diverse with very interesting articles. I am also watching the Olympics!

  20. CQ says:

    The flame is not apparently eternal in London: it has been reported that the flame had to be put out for an entire day in London so that the track and field events could take place. How sad . . .

  21. Taylor says:

    After watching to coverage on BBC, it seems that countless tickets have not been sold. What a shame. I assume there was so much more interest among the athletic community back then.

  22. rachael says:

    I’m not sure whether the London Games did any justice to the Olympic Spirit. The sporting events looked fine, but the meaning of the Games was completely lost between the Spice Girls and all the rest. Looking at the above pictures, it is certain that these London Games lacked what their founders intended for.

  23. H17 says:

    The Sochi Olympics are a clear and present evidence of what the Olympic spirit is not: security threats, intolerance and authoritarian governments.

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