20 Olympic Fun Facts
Every four years (barring a global pandemic of course), the nations of the world gather and root for the athletes representing their countries. Before the Games of the XXXII Olympiad open in Tokyo on July 23, we put together 20 captivating facts to get you into the Olympic spirit and the emotions that come with it.
1. The first modern Olympic games were held in Athens, Greece.
2. The Olympics were only held in summer initially. The first winter games were held in 1924.
3. 19 countries have hosted the Olympics since 1896.
4. The Olympic Flag has five intertwined rings on a white background. The five linked rings symbolize the unity and solidarity of the five continents of Africa, America (North and South America), Asia, Oceania, and Europe.
5. Each Olympic games have a specific motto. This year’s motto is “United by Emotion.”
6. The tradition of awarding gold, silver, and bronze medals was introduced in 1904.
7. In the ancient Olympics, winners were not given medals but were awarded with an olive wreath.
8. The most decorated Olympian is Michael Phelps. The American swimmer won 28 total medals across 4 Olympics, including 23 gold medals. The Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina is second with 18 medals.
9. Olympic gold medals were only made of solid gold until the 1912 Olympics.
10. The host city designs the Olympic medals for their games.
11. In the opening ceremony, the athlete procession is always led by the Greeks and ended by the host team. All others go in alphabetical order as labelled by the host country’s language.
12. CBS first televised the Olympics in the United States during the 1960 Rome games.
13. Every 2 years the Olympic flame is lit at Olympia on the Peloponnese peninsula in Greece before going to the host nation. The host nation then displays the flame around the country before it is used to light the Olympic Cauldron at the opening ceremony.
14. Live pigeons were used for archery in the 1900 games.
15. No country from the Southern Hemisphere has hosted the Winter Games.
16. The United States enters the 2021 games with over 2,800 medals won. No other country has won 1,000. The United Kingdom is second with 883.
17. Figure skating was initially a part of the summer Olympic games.
18. Greece, Australia, France, Great Britain, and Switzerland are the only countries to be represented by athletes in every single summer games.
19. After being out for 112 years, golf made a comeback in the 2016 Olympic games. The four new sports in this year’s Olympics are surfing, sport climbing, karate, and skateboarding. In addition, baseball and softball are returning to the Olympics for the first time since 2008 due to the popularity of those sports in Japan. They will not be included again in the 2024 games in Paris.
20. The United States is the only country in the world that has hosted the Summer Olympics four times. In 2028, the United States will host the games for the fifth time, including the third time in Los Angeles. St. Louis (1904) and Atlanta (1996) are the other American cities that have hosted the Summer Games.