The importance of the Olympic Games
The emergence of city-states in the Hellenic world was accompanied by the expansion of organized athletic activities, which were related to other celebrations of local or panhellenic character. The most
important of these athletic competitions were the Olympic Games,
which attracted people from nearly all the Greek cities. Hostilities
stopped during the Olympic Games, a fact that added prestige to
them and established their reputation throughout the Hellenic world.
Each city-state had the ambition to have the greatest number of
Olympic victors and this resulted in the institution of many laws
that encouraged athletics. Lucian, in ca 170 BC, mentions characteristically:
"And we compel citizens to exercise their bodies not only for the games, so that they can win the prizes -for very few of them go there- but also to gain a greater good from it for the whole city, and for themselves".
Most importantly though, is that the Olympic Games were mainly a religious festival and not just a series of athletic events, like they are today.