The ancient Olympic Games were a series of athletic competitions among representatives of various city-states of Ancient Greece.
They were held in honor of Zeus.
Historical records indicate that they began in 776 BC. They continued to be celebrated when Greece came under Roman rule, until the emperor Theodosius I suppressed them in 394 AD as part of the campaign to impose Christianity as the state religion of Rome.
The games were usually held every four years, or olympiad, which became a unit of time in historical chronologies.
In the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, the athletes would compete nude to honor the gods.
Nudity in sport was first documented in the city-state of Sparta (from where it spread through-out Greece), during the late archaic period (archaic period: 800 BC – 480 BC). Unlike other Greeks, Spartans also sometimes went naked casually, such as in the public city area.
Sparta was also the only city-state where women and girls also competed in the nude; the other states banned females both as participants and as spectators from any sporting event where male nudity was visible.
We still use words such as gym, gymnasium and gymnastics, which all come from the common Greek adjective γυμνός (gymnos) meaning “naked”.