NEWS

IOC approves Olympia shot put

For the first time in 16 centuries, an Olympic sports event is to be held in the ancient Games’ birthplace in the western Peloponnese next summer, following a decision in Lausanne yesterday by top International Olympic Committee officials. In a move foreshadowed by the earlier approval of the International Association of Athletics Federations and the IOC’s Radio and Television Commission, the IOC Executive Board sanctioned a late proposal by the Athens 2004 organizing committee to hold the shot-put contest at the stadium of Ancient Olympia. Greek officials, who have promised a simple, back-to-basics event, jubilated. «We are all deeply moved and enthusiastic with this decision,» organizing committee chief Gianna Angelopoulos-Daskalaki said. «Ancient Olympia will now become part of the uniqueness and the authenticity of the Olympic Games in Greece.» The event – which was not part of the ancient Olympics – will be held on August 18. Organizers have stressed that the contest will in no way harm the ancient site, as it requires little in the way of infrastructure. Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos said it could be held «under conditions almost identical to those of the ancient event.» But while women were banned on pain of death from even watching the ancient Games, this time female athletes will be competing together with the men. And they will all be wearing clothes, as opposed to the ancient contesters’ nudity. It is unclear whether the Culture Ministry’s notoriously conservative arbiter of all matters involving antiquities, the Central Archaeological Council, will sanction the plan – which the independent Association of Greek Archaeologists has already denounced. The last Games in Olympia were held at the end of the fourth century AD. The first were in 776 BC.