The ancient Greek Olympic games were held every four years from 776 BC to 393 AD. The tradition of nudity at the games was introduced in 720 BC by the Spartans. In fact, the word gymnasium is derived from the Greek word meaning "place to be naked". The origins of this tradition were apparently aesthetic more than athletic:
While the origins of physical exercise regimes cannot be pinpointed, the practice of exercising in the nude had its beginnings in the seventh century BC. It is believed that the custom began in Sparta, and while various theories have been advanced, it is commonly thought that the main reason for the convention was the appreciation of the beauty of the male body. The same purpose is frequently attributed to the tradition of oiling the body, a custom so costly that it required significant public and private subsidies (the practice was the largest expense in gymnasia).One of the most amazing things about the modern Olympic games is the fact that every four years the world's most astonishingly fit young men and women gather in one place for two weeks. I think its time to start lobbying the IOC to return to the ancient tradition of having them compete completely naked and oiled up. Granted, it might be problematic in the winter, but I'm sure we can come up with a technical fix for that.