Among the Greeks, fitness competitions and games were nationalistic in spirit; states were said to have been prouder of Olympic victories than of battles won. Women, foreigners, slaves, and dishonored persons were forbidden to compete. Contestants were required to train faithfully for 10 months before the games and had to take an oath that they had fulfilled the training requirements before participating. At first, the Olympic Games were confined to running, but over time new events were added. The winners of the Olympics were crowned with chaplets of wild olive, and in their home city-states male champions were also awarded valuable gifts and privileges.
As a visible focus of world energies, the Olympic Games have been prey to many factors that have thwarted their ideals of world co-operation and athletic excellence. Like in ancient Greece, nationalistic fervour has fostered intense rivalries that have at times threatened the survival of the games. Although officially only individuals are able to win Olympic medals, nations routinely assign political significance to the feats of their citizens and teams. For example, between 1952 and 1988 rivalry between the United