Olympic Showdown: Ancient Greece vs. London 2012

Did the Ancient Greeks have better Olympics than we do in the 21st century? Find out how the B.C. Olympiads compare to the 2012 London Games.

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Ancient Greece: The Woodstock of Antiquity (unofficial)

London 2012: Inspire a Generation


Ancient Greece: Zeus, supreme ruler of gods and men. Known for loving the ladies, being capricious and making thunderbolts.

London 2012: Wenlock, all-seeing one-eyed mascot. Known for loving sports, having fun and making friends.

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Big Business

Ancient Greece: Sacrifices and rituals took up as much time as the Games.

London 2012: Estimated £8.8 billion for stadium, Olympic Village, infrastructure and marketing.

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Keeping it clean

Ancient Greece: Athletes swore an oath upon slices of boar’s flesh that they wouldn’t “sin against the Olympic Games.”

London 2012: Approximately 6,200 drug tests will be carried out by 1,000 agents.

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Opening ceremonies

Ancient Greece: Processions, incantations and incense-burning. Gods placated with animal sacrifices.

London 2012: Staging of pastoral British scene by Trainspotting director Danny Boyle. Animal rights groups angered by plan to use real farm animals.

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Aristocratic attendance

Ancient Greece: Aristotle was a fan; Plato loved watching wrestling; Sophocles was into handball.

London 2012: Queen Elizabeth II will open the Games; her equestrian granddaughter Zara Phillips will compete.

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Ancient Greece: Married women, who were banned from participating in or watching the Games.

London 2012: Elmo, whose status as a puppet didn’t deter 5,500 Facebook supporters from encouraging his Olympic bid.

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The spoils

Ancient Greece: Official prize: Wreath of olive branches. Bonuses: Cash, prime theatre seats, vats of olive oil and occasionally a priesthood.

London 2012: Official prize: Medal. Bonuses: Endorsements, public-speaking engagements, occasional dalliance with model/starlet.

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