Today when we speak of Olympics, we think of just sports. But originally, it was not so. Literature along with other arts was also an integral part of the event. There were writing competitions just like the way we have sporting events now. Literature along with other arts was a main part of the Olympics until 1948.
Founder of International Olympic Committee (IOC), Pierre de Coubertin believed that arts competitions were essential to bring out the complete essence of the Ancient Olympic Games. At first the arts competition were not included, because Coubertin didn’t want the focus to shift, but included them from 1912 Summer Olympics. The main arts events were for literature, architecture, music, painting and sculpturing. The 1948 Olympics were the last to host these events. That was because Finland, the organizers of the 1952 Olympics said that it had logistical difficulties in conducting the arts events. After that Olympics is being held with just sporting events.
In literature, the competitions held were under categories such as mixed literature, dramatic works, epic works, lyric and speculative works. Coubertin himself participated in literary events under a pseudonym and won a gold medal in 1912. He had submitted a poem “Ode au Sport” under the joint name Georges Hohrod and Martin Eschbach. He wanted it to look like a joint entry from two people. There were also participants like Walter W Winans and Alfred Hajos who won medals in both athletic and art competitions.
Though these events have been forgotten, don’t you think that they should have remained part of the Olympics? Imagine an event where Amish Tripathi was pitted against J K Rowling, or Robin Sharma against Paulo Coelho. Wouldn’t it be exciting to cheer for our favourites and watch who could become the Olympian?
So, what do you think? Should the arts events be back in the Olympics, or should we stick to just sports?