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The Spartakiad (or Spartakiade) was an international sports event that was sponsored by the Soviet Union. Five international Spartakiades were held from 1928 to 1937. Later Spartakiads were organized as national sport events of the Eastern Bloc countries. The games were organised by Red Sport International.



The Soviet Union attempted to use Spartakiads to both oppose and supplement the Olympics. (In Russian, there is a certain parallelism in the names: "Spartakiada" and "Olimpiada".) The name, derived from the name of the slave rebel leader, Spartacus, was intended to symbolize proletarian internationalism because Spartacus' revolt united slaves from diverse ethnic backgrounds within the Roman Empire. As a Classical figure, Spartacus also stood directly in contrast to the aristocratic nature of the Ancient Olympic Games on which the modern "capitalist" Olympics were based. The first Winter Spartakiad was held in February 1928 in Oslo, and the first Summer Spartakiad was held in August 1928 in Moscow.

The first Spartakiads in the USSR took place in 1923 within formations of the Red Army and the Spartak Youth Physical Culture organization in Petrograd. The Moscow Spartakiad in 1928 was also known as the All-Union Spartakiad, while it involved participation of countries (17) outside of the Soviet Union. From the start of the 1930s in the Soviet Union, spartakiads of trade unions and the Dynamo physical culture sports society took place. In the 1950s, spartakiads of the Peoples of the USSR, DOSAAF of the USSR, all-Union Spartakiads of students, international Spartakiads of friendly armies of socialist and developing countries, and others were introduced.

The First All-Ukrainian Spartakiad took place in Kharkiv on September 9–29, 1923.

List of Spartakiads

  • 1928 – Moscow
  • 1931 – Berlin
  • Winter
  • 1928 – Oslo
  • 1936 – Oslo
  • Soviet Union

    In 1952 the Soviet Union decided to join the Olympic movement, and international Spartakiads ceased. However, the term persisted for internal sports events in the Soviet Union of different levels, from local up to the Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR (Russian: Спартакиада народов СССР, Spartakiada narodov SSSR). The latter event was held twice in four years: Winter Spartakiad and Summer Spartakiad, with international participation.

    The first Soviet Spartakiad was held in 1956. These events were of huge importance for Soviet sports. Everyone could participate in them - from ordinary people to top-level athletes. The number of participants, for example, in the 6th Summer Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR, was 90 million people (twice the number of athletes in the USSR in that time), including 8,300 Masters of Sports of the USSR. And in the 3rd Winter Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR 20 million people took part, including some 1,000 Masters of Sports of the USSR. The Winter and Summer Spartakiads of the Peoples of the USSR were each commemorated on a series of postage stamps, released in millions of copies (an example of such a stamp is pictured). Until 1975 all summer finals were held in Moscow, later in other cities throughout the Union. The winter editions final were often held in Yekaterinburg (Sverdlovsk).

    List of Spartakiades of Peoples of USSR

  • Summer (1956, 1959, 1963, 1967, 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983, 1986, 1991)
  • Winter (1962, 1966, 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990)
  • There was also a "Youth Spartakiad", and a "Spartakiad of Trade Unions" (Russian: Спартакиада профсоюзов). The latter survived in a number of post Soviet republics, such as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.


    The name Spartakiáda was also used for a mass gymnastics display [1], [2], which was held every five years at the Strahov Stadium in Prague, Czechoslovakia, when the country was under communist rule. The first event of this name was held, however, already in 1921, and its initiator Jiří Chaloupecký is credited as the inventor of the name.


    Six similar events were held in Albania during communist rule as well (in 1959, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, and 1989).


    In 1984, the Soviet Union organised the Friendship Games, aimed at countries which boycotted the 1984 Summer Olympics.


    Spartakiad Wikipedia