The Olympics: History of the Fusion Between Politics and Sports

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The Olympics:  History of the Fusion Between Politics and Sports

As long as there have been nations there has been political intervention in national and international athletics.

Since the violent but prestigious wrestling, boxing and stick fighting days between dominant social classes of Mesopotamia, human history has produced many examples of cross political-athletic pollination.

One of the first cases involved Ancient Greece. Greece is notorious for blending politics with sports. During Olympic Games, Greek leaders discussed important political issues, celebrated military victories and formed political and military alliances.

Then there was Ancient Rome. Gladiator games aside, Olympic victors were crowned with olive wreaths and fed the rest of their lives by their poleis. Olympians were deemed heroes, and several went on to very prestigious political and military careers.

During medieval times, aristocratic knights hosted events to entertain political leaders and general audiences. One of these events was called "the tournament." During these "tournaments," two armored, steed-straddling knights blazed towards each other going full throttle with lances pointed straight at each other.

Many men died during these events, much to the amusement of the king, his queen and the general public. This was not to say the best jousters did not receive several political and economic perks.

Modern history is also littered with evidence pointing to the infeasible separation of sport and state.

In this slideshow I will highlight seven modern occurrences when Olympic sports fused with politics. I will also highlight a few non-Olympic situations that have also occurred in modern times to provide a broader perspective.

Please understand, this is not an all-encompassing list. There are many more historical events. If you have one, please share.

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