Editor’s note: A version of this story ran August 2016 in advance of the Summer Olympics held in Rio de Janiero. 

(RNS) — The 2018 Winter Olympic Games, the 17-day athletic love-fest kicking off to the beat of the Korean janggu drum in Pyeongchang on Friday (Feb. 9), are a secular endeavor featuring more fanfare than faith, more spectacle than spirit.

But it was not always so.

The Olympics — both the long-gone ancient version and the modern version unspooling this month — have deep religious and spiritual roots, which, some scholars say, are in jeopardy as every host city tries to go

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