The variety of competitors participating in the Olympic Games has never been greater. This is mainly due to the inclusive nature of the Olympism philosophy.


In the Ancient Games, winners were not only taken care of by their home town people, but they also had to fight in the front line.

Nowadays, in the modern Games, the only criteria the IOC has is that the athlete must be a citizen of the country they are representing. IFs, NGBs and NOCs decide age limits and the eligibility of professional athletes on a sport-by-sport basis.

"Each Olympian bears a message of sharing, respect and resolve." International Olympic Committee


Professional athletes were banned from the early Olympics. However, the definition of 'Professional' sport was ambiguous. In the 1980s, the reference to amateur athletes was deleted in the Olympic rules and nowadays, professional athletes can compete with only a few restrictions.

For them, winning medals is strongly linked to money from various sponsors. Many people argue that this firm relationship devalues the spirit of the Games. Pierre de Coubertin believed that modern Games are where 'amateur' athletes compete in pure competition and celebrate human achievement.

Women in Modern Olympic Games

In the Ancient Olympics, only maidens were allowed to compete in the foot-races. Today, modern female athletes are able to compete just like the male athlete in the Games. Equestrian is the only Olympic sport where men and women compete as equals.

Due to concerns of male imposters, for more than 30 years, all female athletes were required to go through 'Gender verification' tests. A sample of cells is taken from the athlete's cheek and are examined for the presence of chromosomes. However, the tests were proved to be inaccurate and unnecessary and have been stopped since the 2000 Games.

Another problem is the lack of female athletes from certain countries especially the fundamentalist Muslim countries. Hassiba Boulmerka, an Algerian athlete, took part in the 1992 Game and won the 1500m gold medal despite being given a death threat by some Islamic fundamentalists who opposed her wearing shorts and singlet in the competition.

Paralympic Games

In ancient times, there were only Olympic Games for physically able athletes but nothing for the disabled.

Paralympic Games are the equivalent Olympics for disabled athletes. It is held in the same year and venues as the Olympics. The classification of athletes is based on their specific medical technical ability.

Since the revival of the Olympic Game almost 10 decades ago, there have been 11 Summer Paralympic Games and 7 Winter Paralympic Games. Paralympic athletes demonstrate substantial amount of determination to overcome physical obstacles and to win.

Professionalism: Thrope

No professionals were allowed to participate in the first Modern Olympic Games. In 1912 Olympic Game held in Sweden, Thrope, an American athlete had his 2 medals stripped off as the International Olympic Committee discovered that he had played semi-pro baseball for $25 a week in 1909 and 1910. 29 years after Thorpe's death, the medals and records were restored.

Gender: Stella Walsh

Stella Walsh, the 'Queen' of Track and field with 11 world records was killed in a cross-fire outside a shopping mall. The autopsy was done and they discovered that Walsh was actually a man.

[ introduction | social | politics | economics | london 2012 ]