Culture and Society

Did ancient Olympic athletes compete in the nude?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. It's a matter of debate whether or not the athletes who competed in the ancient Olympic Games did so in the nude. Some sources from the period hold that athletes competed in shorts. Other sources, however, maintain that athletes first began to compete naked after a runner by the name of Orsippos lost his shorts in the middle of a race. Another theory is that competing in the nude was started by the Spartans in the eighth century, after which it became acceptable for athletes to compete either naked or clothed. Some have speculated that holding athletic events in the nude was a way to find out which athletes were actually women competing while disguised as men.

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