It is already late July, and the London Olympic Games are just around the corner. As the Olympics approach, we remember the enduring Olympic values of excellence, respect, and friendship.
In ancient Greece, the valley of Olympia was an important sanctuary visited by pilgrims from across the Empire. The faithful left offerings and worshipped at altars on the quiet plains. Here, in 776 B.C., the first Olympic Games were held and the tradition of Olympic truce was born. Three warring kings agreed to halt hostilities between their city-states during the Games. The great festival honored the Zeus-like qualities of strength, discipline, and fairness in humanity. All free male Greek citizens could participate, no matter their social status. A philosopher, a prince, and a shepherd may have competed side-by-side, and a cook was the first Olympic victor! As the Games continued, athletes from all over the Mediterranean were invited to share in competition for the common good. Women competed in the Heraean Games to give glory to the goddess Hera, the wife of Zeus.
Today, sport inspires hope, builds and heals communities, and can unite people everywhere. As we listen to the stories of Olympians from around the world, we remember that sport is shared by everyone and can bring out the best.