Although the first recorded Olympics was recorded in 776 B.C., when a cook named Coroebus won the single event that was offered- a 192-metre foot race called the ‘stade’- many historians believe that the games had been running for many years before that. According to legend, the Olympics were started by the famous demi-god Heracles, son of Zeus, and had reached peak popularity by the 6th century B.C, as the largest Greek sporting event.
As a religious festival to honour the king of Gods, Zeus, the ancient Olympics were held every four years- just like the Olympic games we know and love today- between August 6th and September 19th.
The games were named after the location they were played in, Olympia. Olympia was home to one of the oldest religious temples, so it was logical to hold the games here. Another reason for this location is due to how convenient it was to reach the area by ship- Athletes and spectators would travel from as far away as modern-day Spain, and Egypt. Most of these spectators would have been men, for married female spectators were not allowed, under penalty of death.
The games were so important that a truce was announced before and during the games, allowing for safe travel to and from Olympia. During this truce, there would be no wars, and death penalties were put on hold. If this was disobeyed, punishment would follow. The historian Thucydides recounts that the Lacedaemonians were banned from participating in the Games, after they attacked a fortress in Lepreum, a town in Elis, during the truce. They were fined 2,000 minae- 2 mina per soldier. A mina was equivalent to 100 drachmas, and one drachma was an average worker's daily wage, proving this to be a heavy punishment.
Most of the 45,000 spectators would have slept outside overnight for the duration of the Olympics. Only those more wealthy, such as members of the official delegations, would have elaborate tents and pavilions. For the games, the spectators would make their way into the stadium.