Ancient Olympics to be revived for 2.8m-euro French TV documentary

The ancient Olympics are to spring back to life for a television documentary to go on the air just ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics. Teams from different nations sporting 10 athletes aged between 18 and 25 are to stage real competitions in the Games’ ancient birthplace of Olympia, southern Greece, said Carole Solive of French TV production company Gedeon Programmes. Real competitions in ancient Greek track and field disciplines are on the program such as sprint and long-distance races with and without weapons, discus, javelin, wrestling and pentathlon. According to ancient custom, winners stand to win nothing more than a simple olive branch. Teams will carry names of ancient Greek city-states whose athletes competed in the Olympics from 776 BC to AD 393, when the Byzantine emperor Theodosius, a devout Christian, banned the Games as a heathen event. Athletes will also not appear naked, as ancient Greeks did in a measure devised to prevent women, who were banned from the religiously tinged Games, from sneaking into Olympia. The number of teams participating has not been finalized yet, but Gedeon plans at least one Francophone team, from France, Belgium and Switzerland, one German-speaking delegation from Germany and Austria, as well as athletes from Greece, Spain and Italy. (AFP)