The Olympic Games: A Quintessentially Modern Project

  • John Karamichas
Part of the Global Culture and Sport book series (GCS)


The position that the Olympic Games are actually a product of modernity is likely to be met with outcries from some sectors. ‘The origins of the Games are traced to ancient Greece!’ such people say in evident fury It can be argued, however, that these same people are attacking the current institution of the Olympics as well as the culture for which they claim to act in defence. In thinking about the connection of the modern Games to their ancient past, we have to examine the extent to which we are referring to the same event. For many people, this will appear to be a pointless exercise, but it is a must if we are to properly understand our subject. A less pointed question might be: ‘To what extent are the Greeks of the past and the Greeks of the present the same people?’ This question has been asked innumerable times and for various reasons in relation to the inhabitants of the southern Balkans, who have identified themselves with that name since the foundation of the Greek state in the nineteenth century. What is crucial is that the Greek public appears to hold an unshakable conviction about the uninterrupted continuity of the Greek nation across the centuries and as such clings to the belief that it holds inalienable rights over Olympism. This phenomenon is well known, and it has been encouraged and exploited by both internal and external actors. Let’s examine this issue in more detail.


Olympic Game Host City Democratic Approach Modern Game Transnational Civil Society 
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Copyright information

© John Karamichas 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Karamichas
    • 1
  1. 1.Queen’s UniversityBelfastUK

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