The current situation in Tibet and the conflict with China has ignited discussions on how Olympics and politics do not mix. But according to history, the original “marathon” was inspired by the conflict between Persia and Greece (Macedon and Thrace). This battle was a last attempt effort to prevent Persia from completely running over Greece.
According to the legend of Pheidippide, he ran all the way to Sparta (150 miles) to request help. After the Greeks were victorious, Pheidippides then ran the 26 miles to Athens to deliver the good news only to die from exhaustion.
This story inspired the Greeks to develop the first modern Olympics. I find it interesting that the Chinese Government believes it is wrong and against the spirit of the Olympic games to focus on the conflict in Tibet. I could not disagree more, as there are distinct parallels to the struggles of Greeks against a ruthless Persian regime and the Tibetan monks defending their identity and nationality against a similar foe. As to whether the free world continues to put pressure on China or even boycott the games outright, we should continue to focus on China’s aggressive behavior to impose its will on independent culture and states that fall within its grasp.