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"The Red Sport International defends the Soviet Union": Poster of the 2nd International Spartakiad of the Red Sport International (Berlin, 1931)
GenreMulti-sport event
Years active1928 (1928)–1937 (1937)
Organised byRed Sport International

The Spartakiad (or Spartakiade) was an international sports event that was sponsored by the Soviet Union.[1] Five international Spartakiades were held from 1928 to 1937. Later Spartakiads were organized as national sport events of the Eastern Bloc countries.[2] The games were organised by Red Sport International.


The Soviet Union attempted to use Spartakiads to both oppose and supplement the Olympics.[3] (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,[4] was intended to symbolize proletarian internationalism. 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 Physical Culture organization in Petrograd.[5] The Moscow Spartakiad in 1928 was also known as the All-Union Spartakiad.[5] From the start of the 1930s in the Soviet Union, spartakiads of trade unions and the Dynamo physical culture sports society took place.[5] 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.[5]

List of Spartakiads[edit]

  • 1928 – Oslo
  • 1936 – Oslo

After World War II[edit]

Soviet Union[edit]

In 1952, the Soviet Union decided to join the Olympic movement, and international Spartakiads ceased. However, the term continued to exist 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[6]). The latter event was held twice in four years: Winter Spartakiad and Summer Spartakiad.

The first Soviet Spartakiad was held in 1956. According to the Great Soviet Encyclopedia, the number of participants 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 20 million in the 3rd Winter Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR, including some 1,000 Masters of Sports of the USSR.[4] However, these numbers have been frequently called into question due to the low reliability and ideological bias of the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.[7] 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.[8] Until 1975, all summer finals were held in Moscow, later in other cities throughout the Soviet Union (though most events were still held in Moscow). The winter editions' finals were often held in Sverdlovsk.


The name Spartakiáda was also used for a mass gymnastics display,[9] which was held every five years at the Strahov Stadium in Prague, Czechoslovakia. The first event of this name was held, however, already in 1921, and its initiator Jiří František Chaloupecký [cs] is credited as the inventor of the name.[10]


Six similar events were held in Albania during communist rule as well (in 1959, 1969, 1974, 1979, 1984, and 1989).[11][12]


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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Riordan, James (2013). "The sports policy of the Soviet Union, 1917–1941". In Arnaud, Pierre; Riordan, Professor Jim (eds.). Sport and International Politics. Routledge. pp. 79–90. doi:10.4324/9780203476581. ISBN 978-0-203-47658-1. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  2. ^ Carr, G.A. (May 1987). "The Spartakiad: Its Approach and Modification from the Mass Displays of the Sokol". Canadian Journal of History of Sport. 18 (1): 86–96. doi:10.1123/cjhs.18.1.86. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  3. ^ Serious Fun: A History of Spectator Sports in the USSR Archived 16 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Robert Edelman [de], pg 149
  4. ^ a b Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd edition, volume 24 (part 1), p. 286, Moscow, Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya publisher, 1976
  5. ^ a b c d Spartakiad at Great Soviet Encyclopedia
  6. ^ Ukrainian: Спартакіада народів СРСР; Lithuanian: TSRS tautų spartakiada; Latvian: PSRS tautu spartakiāda
  7. ^ "The Validity of Soviet Economic Statistics — Central Intelligence Agency". Archived from the original on 9 January 2008.
  8. ^ Catalogue of Postage Stamps of the USSR 1918–1974, "Soyuzpechat" Central Philatelic Agency (CPA) of the Ministry of Communications of the USSR publisher, Moscow, 1976.
  9. ^ Spartakiada (Praha-1985-Strahov) Sila,muznost,pripravenost, archived from the original on 22 December 2021, retrieved 21 May 2020
  10. ^ Rozhlas.cz – Jak vzniklo slovo „spartakiáda“
  11. ^ http://www.iliriadaportal.com/opinion-f34/lindja-zhdukja-dhe-rilindja-e-olimpizmit-shqiptar-t1669.htm[permanent dead link]
  12. ^ "Unofficial Site of Albanian Football since 1913: Republic Cup, Supercup, National Spartakiada and Under 18/19 Championships".

External links[edit]