Title Asterix at the Olympic Games (1968)
Category Asterix Comics
Mangaka Goscinny and Uderzo
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Asterix at the Olympic Games is the 12th comic book album in the Asterix series. Serialized in Pilote issues 434-455 in 1968 (to coincide with the Mexico City Olympics), it was translated into English in 1972 (to coincide with the Munich Olympics). The story satirizes performance enhancing drug usage in sports.

Plot

Gluteus Maximus (a muscular, arrogant Roman legionnaire) is chosen as one of Rome’s representatives at the upcoming Olympic Games in Greece. His centurion hopes that the glory that goes with Olympic victory will reflect well on him as well, but while training in the forest Gluteus Maximus encounters Asterix and Obelix, who easily outdo him (unintentionally) with the power of the magic potion and leave him demoralised. When the centurion asks Vitalstatistix to see to it that Gluteus Maximus is left alone – and after Getafix explains about the Games – Vitalstatistix decides that the Gauls should enter as well. The centurion argues that they can’t, as Romans are the only non-Greeks allowed, but Asterix rationalizes that as Gaul is part of the Roman Empire, they are technically Romans.

The entire (male) population of the village go to Olympia, where Asterix and Obelix register as athletes (with Getafix as their coach) and the others all enjoy a holiday. When Gluteus Maximus and his centurion discover the Gauls have come to compete, they are left hopeless (Vitalstatistix telling them “We’re not stopping you entering, it’s just that we’re going to win” is no comfort at all), and this spreads to all of the other Roman athletes. They give up training and spend all their time having elaborate parties, which causes the Greek competitors to complain about their need for healthy diets.

An Olympic judge ultimately warns the Romans that even if they think drinking will somehow make them better athletes, it will be held against them as all artificial stimulants are forbidden, prompting the centurion to tell him about the Gauls’ magic potion. Our heroes are left gutted by the news that victory is not as certain as they had expected, but Asterix heroically vows he will compete anyway. Obelix, being permanently affected by the potion, now cannot compete and anyway doesn’t quite get what’s going on – he thinks he’s been dismissed just because he fell into a cauldron and spends the story wondering if telling the officials he fell into a regular pot or amphora will change anything.

Asterix (sensibly only competing in the races) and the Roman athetes are beaten at every turn by the Greeks – causing a dilemma to the Olympic officials. Although their victories prove what they’ve believed all along (that Romans are decadent barbarians), too much success will reflect badly on the country’s reputation, so they announce a special race for just the Romans and Asterix. After the announcement, Asterix and Getafix start talking, very loudly, about a cauldron of magic potion left in a prominent place.

The race begins, and every Roman easily beats Asterix by several laps. Getafix suddenly accuses them of having used magic potion and, when the Romans deny, Asterix sticks his tongue out at them. When the Romans return the gesture, it is revealed that Getafix added an extra ingredient to this particular batch of potion and the Romans now have blue tongues from drinking it. They are disqualified, and Asterix is declared the winner.

The Gauls return home for their traditional banquet and Getafix notices Asterix hasn’t brought his Palm of Victory home. Asterix explains he gave it to someone who needed it more: Gluteus Maximus, whose apparent victory is shown to have pleased Julius Caesar greatly.

Notes

  • The scenes where Asterix is forbidden to use the magic potion during the Olympic Games is a reference to doping in modern sport events.
  • The Gauls visit the Akropolis and the Parthenon.
  • The isle of Rhodes has sent only one contestant, a colossal one. This references the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World.
  • Although he is seen in several previous albums, this album is the first where Geriatrix is named and starts his role as a major secondary character.
  • This is the first time Fulliautomatix is named since his character & appearance are “finalized.” Although he is named in the first album he is otherwise unrecognizable. He officially now becomes another recurring secondary character.
  • This is probably the only time an Asterix comic has mentioned anyone’s actual age, as it says Geriatrix is 93. However, this is not consistent in all translations—in some he is said to be 80.
  • During the efforts of Paris to get the right to host the 1992 Summer Olympics, the Bid Committee published a poster where Asterix holds a torch over the Eiffel Tower, and a short Asterix Olympics story was created to promote the bid.
  • There are a few minor objects that shows a reference to the modern olympic games such as the parade of nations, the podium, the Olympic village, and the Olympic Oath.
  • Although the story says that the only outsiders to participate in the ancient olympics are Romans, it is unknown whether it happened in real history especially since the Romans were Greek descendents.
  • One panel shows a Greek woman who protests against the men-only view of the Olympic games and swears that one day women will not only view the games but also participate in them. This is a prediction to the first modern Olympic Games (women viewing of the games) and their eventual participation (since the 1928 games in Amsterdam).
  • This is the first Asterix album in which Cacofonix the bard, who is gagged during banquets, is actually eating in the banquet. Unhygienix, the fishmonger and Fulliautomatix’s rival is absent.

Film adaptation

A live action movie of this book was released in France on January 30, 2008 to coincide with the Beijing Olympics. See Asterix at the Olympic Games (film).

In other languages

  • Ancient Greek: Αστερίκιος εν Ολυμπία
  • Catalan: Astèrix als Jocs Olímpics
  • Basque: Asterix Joku Olinpikoetan
  • Croatian: Asteriks na Olimpijskim Igrama
  • Czech: Asterix a Olympijské Hry
  • Dutch: Asterix en de Olympische Spelen
  • Estonian: Asterix ja olümpiamängud
  • Finnish: Asterix olympialaisissa
  • French: Astérix aux Jeux Olympiques
  • German: Asterix bei den Olympischen Spielen
  • Hindi: Estriks olampik me
  • Greek: Ο Αστερίξ στους Ολυμπιακούς αγώνες
  • Galician: Astérix nos Xogos Olímpicos
  • Indonesian: Asterix di Olympiade
  • Italian: Asterix alle Olimpiadi
  • Lithuanian: Asteriksas Olimpinėse Žaidynėse
  • Norwegian: Olympisk mester!
  • Polish: Asteriks na Olimpiadzie
  • Portuguese: Astérix nos Jogos Olímpicos
  • Romanian: Asterix la Jocurile Olimpice
  • Russian: Астерикс на Олимпийских играх
  • Serbian: Астерикс на Олимпијским играма
  • Slovenian: Asterix na olimpijskih igrah
  • Spanish: Astérix en los Juegos Olímpicos
  • Swedish: Asterix på olympiaden
  • Turkish: Asterix Olimpiyat Oyunlarında
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