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Image:5th Winter Spartakiad USSR stamp.png
5th Winter Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR on the 1982 USSR postage stamp block

Spartakiad initially was the name of an international sports event that the Soviet Union attempted to oppose the Olympics. (In Russian language, there is a certain parallelism in the names: "Spartakiada" vs. "Olimpiada".) The name, derived from the name of the slave rebel leader, Spartacus<ref name=GSE>Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd edition, volume 24 (part 1), p. 286, Moscow, Sovetskaya Entsiklopediya publisher, 1976</ref>, was supposed to symbolize proletarian internationalism. The first Spartakiad was held in August, 1928 in Moscow.

Eventually 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 (Спартакиада народов СССР). 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 the 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 took part 20 million people, including some 1,000 Masters of Sports of the USSR.<ref name=GSE/> An importance of Winter and Summer Spartakiads of the Peoples of the USSR may also be seen from the fact, that each of them was commemorated on a series of postage stamps, released in millions of copies (an example of such a stamp is pictured).<ref>Catalogue of Postage Stamps of the USSR 1918-1974, Soyuzpechat' Central Philatelic Agency of the Ministry of Communication of the USSR publisher, Moscow, 1976. See also subsequent yearly catalogues.</ref>

There was also a "Youth Spartakiad". Still another Soviet sports event with this name, Spartakiad of Trade Unions (Спартакиада профсоюзов), survived in a number of post Soviet republics, such as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

The name Spartakiada was also used for a mass gymnastics display [1], which was held every five years at the Strahov stadium in Prague, Czechoslovakia, when the country was under Communist rule.

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