What Did the Athletes Wear in Ancient Greece Olympics?

In ancient Greece, the Olympics were a celebration of physical prowess and athletic excellence. The athletes who participated in these games were highly regarded and held in great esteem. Apart from their skills and abilities, their clothing also played a significant role in distinguishing them as competitors.

What Did the Athletes Wear?

The attire of the athletes in ancient Greece was simple yet distinctive. They would compete completely naked!

Yes, you read that right. The athletes believed that competing without any clothing symbolized the purity of their bodies and showcased their dedication to physical fitness.

Why Compete Naked?

Competing without any clothing had both practical and symbolic reasons. Firstly, it eliminated any possibility of cheating or hiding any performance-enhancing items or substances. It ensured fair competition based solely on an athlete’s natural abilities.

Moreover, being naked highlighted the physical form of the athletes. It showcased their well-toned muscles and emphasized the importance of physical training and discipline.

It is important to note that only male athletes competed in this manner. Female participants were not allowed to compete in the ancient Greek Olympics.

Exceptions to Nakedness

While most events required complete nudity, there were a few exceptions. In certain combat sports like boxing and pankration, where close contact was involved, athletes would wear leather straps around their hands for protection.

Additionally, chariot races allowed participants to wear tunics or loincloths due to safety concerns associated with handling horses while racing at high speeds.

  • Tunics: Tunics were loose-fitting garments made of linen or wool.
  • Loincloths: Loincloths were worn around the waist and covered only the essentials.
  • Leather Straps: Athletes participating in combat sports would wear leather straps around their hands.


In ancient Greece, the Olympics were not just about athletic competition but also a celebration of the human body. The athletes, mostly male, would compete completely naked, symbolizing purity and showcasing their physical prowess. However, in combat sports and chariot races, certain exceptions were made for safety reasons.

The clothing (or lack thereof) worn by ancient Greek athletes was a reflection of their dedication to physical fitness and the importance they placed on showcasing their natural abilities. While this attire may seem unconventional by today’s standards, it played a significant role in shaping the identity of the ancient Olympic Games.