How much were the original Olympics like the modern Games?

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The Olympics were strictly for men, as far as the athletics and combat sports were concerned.

Women weren't even allowed to watch. However, women might compete in the equestrian events, but only by proxy as owners of the horses and chariots. The first woman victor on record was a Spartan princess.

One reason for their exclusion, perhaps, was that the athletes, boxers and wrestlers all competed in the nude.

The ancient Greek word for "to exercise" meant literally "to be stark naked". Our gymnastics words are derived from this cultural peculiarity of theirs, for which the explanation was probably ultimately religious...

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