Ancient Olympic Spectators
Another difference in the ancient Olympic festival was the spectators. Throngs of spectators arrived in Olympia from all corners of the ancient world. Of course they arrived safely with the protection of the sacred truce.
The spectators would include official delegations sent by city-states and colonies, as well as pre-eminent figures of the intellectual world. A portion of the spectators were also barbarians and slaves. The Olympic festival also attracted merchants, craftsmen and food vendors to sell their wares.
The wealthy and members of official delegations erected elaborate tents. The tents helped to avoid the insects, which gathered because of intense humidity and the large numbers of people and animals gathered in a small space. However, most people slept outside under the stars.
The festival had a very busy schedule. One of the most significant was the religious ceremonies. Some of these ceremonies included sacrifices. Other activities on the schedule were speeches by well-known philosophers and poetry recitals. As athletes won, there were parades, banquets and victory celebrations.
Another significant difference is that women were forbidden from attending as spectators. Once a woman, named Kallipateira, entered the stadium disguised as a trainer in order to celebrate her son’s victory. After it was discovered that the trainer was a woman, coaches and trainers were obliged to go naked.
Although women were forbidden from attending the Olympic Games as a spectator, they could, however, participate as horse owners in the equestrian events, as the prize was awarded to the owner of the winning horse and not the rider.