OLYMPIC FACTS & FUN

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The 2012 Olympic Summer Games are coming to a close and the Tin Man thought it might be fun to review some interesting facts about the Olympics.

THE OLYMPIC FLAG
The five interlaced rings which are depicted on the Olympic flag are known as the “Olympic Rings”. 

The five rings are arranged in a 3-2 pattern on a white background, with the blue ring to the extreme left, followed by the yellow, black, green and red. 

They were designed by Pierre de Coubertin, in August 1912.

The five rings represent the five parts of the world that were joined together in the Olympic movement: 

Africa, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Europe.

The Olympic fag was first used in the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp, Belgium.  The Olympic flag is paraded during the opening ceremony of each Olympic Games.

At the end of an Olympics, the mayor of the host city presents the flag to the mayor of the next host city.

The flag will remain in the own hall of the next host city until the next Olympic Games, four years later.

THE OLYMPIC FLAME

The tradition of the Olympic Flame began during the ancient Olympic Games, over 2,700 years ago in Greece.  A flame was lit for each Olympics, every four years, and it burned throughout the games.  The flame symbolized the death and rebirth of the Greek heroes.  For each Olympics, a new flame is started in the ancient Olympic stadium in Olympia, Elis, Greece, using a parabolic mirror to focus the rays of the Sun. 

This flame begins its Olympic Torch Relay by touring Greece. 

The flame is normally taken to the country where the games will be held and then carried around that country.  The last runner uses a the torch to light the Olympic flame which will burn throughout the games. 

The flame is extinguished during the closing ceremony.

THE OLYMPIC MOTTO

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Swifter, Higher, Stronger

OLYMPIC MEDALS

In ancient times the Olympic victor received his first awards immediately after the competition.

Following announcement of the winner’s name by a herald, a Hellanodikis (Greek Judge) would place a palm branch in  his hands, while spectators cheered and threw flowers at him.

Red ribbons were tired to his head and hands as a mark of victory.

The official award ceremony would take place on the last day of the Games, at the elevated vestibule of the temple of Zeus.  In a loud voice, the herald would announce the name of the Olympic winner, his father’s name and his homeland.  Then the Hellanodikis would place the sacred olive tree wreath (kotinos) on the winner’s head.

Medals were first introduced in the modern Olympic Games in 1896 at the inaugural Olympics in Athens, Greece.

The winners were give a silver medal and an olive branch, while runners-up received a laurel branch and a copper or bronze medal.

In 1900 most winners received cups or trophies instead of medals.

The custom of gold, silver and bronze dates from the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, in the United States.

The International Olympic Committee then retroactively assigned gold, silver and bronze medals the three best placed athletes in each event of the 1896 and 1900 Games. 

Medals are given to to the top three competitors; every athlete placed first to eighth receives an Olympic Diploma.

At the main host stadium, the names of all medal winners are written onto a wall.

WOMEN PARTICIPATING IN THE GAMES

Women first competed at the 1900 Paris Games.  Women were allowed to compete in lawn tennis and golf, though these were three French women competing in croquet and there was at least one woman sailor as part of mixed crews.  It is commonly believed that the first woman to win an Olympic event was England’s Charlotte Cooper, who won the tennis singles title; however, Swiss sailor Helene de Pourtales won a gold medal as part of a team in sailing earlier than this.

Helen de Pourtales

Women competed in swimming events for the first time in 1912, but none of them were from the United States, which did not allow its female athletes to compete in events without long skirts. The first women’s swimming gold medal was won by the Australian Sara “Fanny” Durack, who won the 100m freestyle in 1912.
In 1928, women competed in track and field events for the first time; however, so many collapsed at the end of the 800 meter race that the event was banned until 1960.

Women’s shooting events were first included in the Olympics in 1984.

The 2000 Olympics were the first time women were allowed to compete in weightlifting.

In 1948, Dutch athlete Fanny Blankers-Koen won four gold medals, the equivalents of the ones Jesse Owens had won twelve years earlier.  She held the world records in the high and long jumps, but did not compete in those, as rules prohibited women from competing in more than three individual events.

British Equestrian, Lorna Johnstone was 70 years and 5 days old when she rode in the 1972 Games, thus being the oldest woman ever to compete at an Olympic Games.

Qatar, Brunei and Saudi Arabia all sent female participants to London 2012 Olympic Games – for the first time every national Olympic committee will have sent women to the Games.

IN THE BEGINNING….

The ancient Olympic Games were founded by Heracles, a son of Zeus, according to legend.

The first Olympic Games for which there are written records were held in 776 BCE.  At this Olympic Games, a naked runner, Coroebus won the sole event – the stade.

The stade was a run of approximately 192 meters (210 yards).

The ancient Olympic Games grew and continued to be played every four years for nearly 1200 years, until in 393 CE, the Roman Emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences.

 

Approximately 1500 years later, Pierre de Coubertin began their revival.

Coubertin organized a meeting with 79 delegates who represented nine countries.  The delegates at the conference voted unanimously for the Olympic Games and had Coubertin construct an international committee to organize the games, which continues today as the IOC – International Olympic Committee.

 

THE TIMELINE

Before 776 BC

Athletic contests are held at Olympia every four years, between August 6 and September 19.

394 AD

Roman Emperor Theodosius I abolishes the Games.

1894

The International Olympic Committee is founded.

1896

Athens Games

The first modern Olympics with 14 countries represented by about 245 men, competing in 43 events.

1900

Paris Games

Incorporated into the Paris Exposition.  1,319 men from 26 countries compete in 75 events.

Eleven women were allowed to participate in lawn tennis and golf.

1904

St. Louis Games

Only 13 countries show up.  Fred Lorz rides in a car for eleven miles during the marathon, but is briefly taken as being the winner anyway.

1906

Intercalated Games

The first and last and only Intercalated Games are held in Athens.  Medals won here are considered unofficial by the IOC

1908

London Games

The 1906 eruption of Mount Vesuvius requires the Games to move from Rome to London.

This is the first time athletes march into the stadium behind their nation’s flags.

1912

Stockholm Games

American, Jim Thorpe dominates the Games, taking the gold in the pentathlon and decathlon.

1913

Jim Thorpe’s medals are taken away, when it is discovered that he was paid $25 a week for playing baseball in 1909 and 1910.  The Olympics strictly limited to amateur players.

1916

Games are cancelled due to World War I

1920

Antwerp Games

The Olympic Flag is introduced, as is the Olympic Oath.

Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and Turkey are not invited, having been on the wrong side of the Great War.

Philip Noel-Baker of Great Britain takes the silver in the 1500 meter dash, he later becomes the only Olympian ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

1924

Chamonix Winter Games

The “International Winter Sports Week” takes place and two years later, is retroactively given the status of the first Olympic Winter Games.

1924

Paris Games

Originally planned to take place in Amsterdam, the Games are moved to Paris at the urging of Baron de Coubertin.  He is about to retire and wants to see the Games in his homeland, one last time.

Germany is banned, but the other four nations banned in 1920 are back.

1925

The IOC forbid such practices as compensating athletes for time taken away from work to compete, making it hard for working-class athletes to participate.

Winter 1928

St. Moritz Winter Games

Plagued with warm weather, some events were slowed and the 10,000 meter speed skating race was cancelled.

Summer 1928

Amsterdam Games

The Olympic Flame is introduced.

Germany returns.

Women compete in track and field events for the first time.

Luigina Giavotti becomes the youngest medalist of all time.  She was 11 years and 302 days old.

1930

The Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) holds soccer’s first World Cup tournament in Montevideno, Uruguay, due to the Olympics’ restrictions against professional athletes.

The World Cup is held every four years from this time onward, except during World War II

Winter 1932

Lake Placid Winter Games

Summer 1932

Los Angeles Games

Paavo Nurmi is barred from the Games, on grounds that, on a trip to a German meet, he had claimed too much money in travel expenses.

Winter 1936

Garmish-Partenkirchen Winter Games

Alpine skiing events are held for the first time, but ski instructors are barred as being professionals.  This leads to an Austrian and Swiss boycott, and to the decision not to hae skiing events in the 1940 Games.

Summer 1936

Berlin Games

The first ever relay of the Olympic Torch

The first Games to be televised

Basketball is admitted as an Olympic sport for the first time.  In the final – played on a dirt court, in the rain, dribbling was impossible

1940

1944

Games cancelled due to World War II

Winter 1948

St. Moritz Winter Games

Held in this city since it was untouched by the World War II

Men and Women each have three alpine skiing events

Summer 1948

The first Games to be shown on home television

Germany and Japan are not invited

Winter 1952

Oslo Winter Games

The Olympic Torch is lit in the fireplace of skiing pioneer, Sondre Norheim and then relayed by 94 skiers to the Games

Summer 1952

Helsinki Summer Games

Russian athletes participate for the first time in 40 years, winning 71 medals

Winter 1956

Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Games

The Soviets break Canada’s gold medal monopoly in ice hockey and win more medals than any other country

Summer 1956

The Tin Man turns one year old

East and West Germany are represented by one combined team

In the Closing Ceremonies, for the first time, athletes from all nations enter the stadium in unity, rather than marching in by nation.

Liechtenstein, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden boycott the games in protest of the Soviet invasion of Hungary.

Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq do the same as a result of the Suez crisis

Winter 1960

Squaw Valley Winter Games

The only Winter Games not to include bobsledding, as the organizing committee refuses to build an expensive bobsled fun for the mere nine nations that would use it

Walt Disney is in charge of pageantry, including the Opening and Closing Ceremonies

Summer 1960

Rome Summer Games

The first Summer Games covered by television worldwide

A record 5,348 athletes from 83 countries compete

Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila, running barefoot, becomes the first black African to take home a Gold Medal

After taking amphetamines, Danish cyclist Knuth Jensen collapses during a race, fatally fracturing his skull

Winter 1964

Innsbruck Winter Games

Unfavorable weather conditions require the Austrian army to carry ice and snow from higher elevations

South Africa is barred from the Games due to its policy of apartheid and will not be invited back until 1992

Summer 1964

Tokyo Summer Games

Japan spends $3 Billion to rebuild Tokyo for the Olympics, revitalizing a city that had been devastated by earthquakes and World War II bombings

Abebe Bikila again wins the marathon, this time less than six weeks after having his appendix removed.

Winter 1968

Grenoble Winter Games

East and West Germany compete on separate teams for the first time

Sex tests and drug tests are introduced

Peggy Fleming wins America’s only gold medal, in figure skating

Summer 1968

Mexico City Summer Games

These games are held at the highest altitude ever: 7,349 feet

Swedish pentathlete Hans-Grunner Liljenwall is the first to be disqualified for drug use, having tested positive for excessive alcohol

On the winning podium, after the 200 meter race, Americans Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists in a Black Power salute and the two are immediately suspended from the Games and deported from the country

Winter 1972

Sapporo Winter Games

Retiring IOC president Avery Brundage threatens to disqualify 40 Alpine skiers for taking money from ski product manufacturers, ultimately making an example of just one skier, barring Austrian Karl Schranz.

The United States, Soviet Union and others have been routinely circumventing the IOC’s amateur code for decades, with no consequences.  The Soviets have been paying their athletes for jobs they never actually perform, while the Americans have handed out athletic scholarships to thousands of athletes.

Canada boycotts the Games, in protest of Easter European “state amateurs”

Summer 1972

Munich Summer Games

The Olympic Oath is taken by a referee for the first time

The Games are over shadowed when members of the Black September terrorist group kidnap eleven Israeli athletes from the Olympic Village, killing two and taking the other nine hostage.

During a failed rescue attempt by German authorities, the remaining athletes and all but three of the terrorists are killed

1974

The word “amateurism” is removed from the Olympic Charter

Winter 1976

Innsbruck Winter Games

These Games were originally planned for Denver, Colorado; however, Colorado residents voted against spending money on them.

Ice Dancing makes its debut

Summer 1976

Montreal Summer Games

The price tag for the Games is $1.5 Billion Dollars

Canada bars the Republic of China (Taiwan) team from the country, then allows them to enter if they agree not to compete as “the Republic of China”  the Taiwanese consider this unacceptable and withdraw from the Games

Dozens of other nations, mostly African, boycott the Games in protest of the inclusion of New Zealand, whose rugby team is touring racially segregated South Africa

14 year old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci scores seven perfect 10s …….nobody had ever achieved even one 10 before

Winter 1980

Lake Placid Winter Games

The first Games to use artificial snow

Summer 1980

Moscow Summer Games

The first Games to be held in a communist country

President Carter calls upon the U.S. Olympic Committee to boycott the Games, due to the Soviet invasion af Afghanistan

the U.S. stays home and many other countries follow suit

80 nations participate in the Games, down from 122 in Munich

1981

International sports federations are given the right to determine which athletes may compete.

While athletes must live up to the standards in the Olympic Charter, the door is opened for nations to admit professional athletes.

Athletes are still barred from receiving money during the Games, whether for participating or for winning

1982

Jim Thorpe, whose amateur status was revoked in 1913 is officially pardoned by the IOC, 29 years after his death.

Replicas of his 1912 medals are presented to his family at the start of 1983

1983

The IOC votes to allow the Games to be opened to corporate sponsorship

Winter 1984

Sarajevo Winter Games

The first to be held in a socialist country

49 nations attend, 12 more than the previous record for the Winter Games

Summer 1984

Los Angeles Summer Games

In retaliation for the U.S. led boycott of 1980, the Soviet Union leads a 14 country boycott

The first privately financed Olympics are a commercial success

34 official sponsors, 64 companies with supplier rights 65 licensees

These are the second Games to ever turn a profit – 215 million, the first was the 1932 Los Angeles Games

A record 140 nations participate, but without the Soviets and East Germans, the Americans win almost three times as many medals as their closest competitors

In a compromise with FIFA, professional soccer players are allowed to participate, but only if they have not been part of a World Cup event

1986

The IOC votes to change the schedule of the Olympics.

Starting in 1984, the Summer Games and Winter Games will take place two years apart form one another, rather than in the same year

Winter 1988

Calgary Winter Games

The Winter Games are spread over 16 days for the first time

Summer 1988

Seoul Summer Games

North Korea refuses to participate and Cuba and Ethiopia follow suit in solidarity, but there are not widespread boycotts for the first time since 1972

159 nations send 9,465 athletes, including 2,186 women

Canadian Ben Johnson beats Carl Lewis in the 100 meter dash with a world record time of 979.  Shortly thereafter, he tests positive for steroid use and is stripped of his medal

1989

The IOC votes to disallow unofficial demonstrations events at the Olympics, starting with the 1996 Games

Winter 1992

Albertville Winter Games

Germany has reunited and the Soviet Union has broken up.  In spite of the accompanying turmoil, the German team and Unified team of former Soviet states remain at the top of the rankings

Summer 1992

Barcelona Games

For the first time in decades, every single nation with an Olympic Committee shows up, even Cuba, North Korea and South Africa

A record 172 nations participate, represented by 10,563 athletes

Winter 1994

Lillehammer Winter Games

These are the only Winter Games to take place two years after the preceding ones

It is the Tonya and Nancy Show in figure skating : Nanacy Kerrigan gets the Silver and Tonya Harding gets the notoriety

Ukraine’s Oksana Baiul gets the Gold

Summer 1996

Atlanta Games

A pipe bomb in Centennial Olympic Parks kills one person and injures 111

Snowboarding, curling and women’s ice hockey are introduced

15 year old American figure skater Tara Lipinski becomes the youngest athlete to win a Gold Medal at the Winter Games

Summer 2000

Sydney Games

10,651 athletes (4,069 women) from 199 nations participate.

The ony nation excluded is Afghanistan

North and South Korea enter the stadium under one flag

Women are excluded from boxing and baseball

Men are excluded from synchronized swimming, rhythmic gymnastics and softball

Winter 2002

Salt Lake City Games

These Games are controversial starting about three years before they begin, as it is revealed that several IOC members accepted inappropriately large gifts in exchange for voting to hold the Games in Salt Lake City.  At least four IOC members resign, as do top Salt Lake City committee officials.

The IOC pledges to change the way host cities are chosen

These Games are also dominated by doping scandals, one of the most interesting being Britain’s Alain Baxter who loses his Bronze slalom medal after a drug test, although the drug detected turns out to be a Vicks inhaler.  Unknown to him, it has a different formulation in America than in the UK.  A later investigation clears him of all moral guilt; however, his medal is not returned.

Russian figure skating pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze win the Gold over Canadian pair Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.  The Canadians protest the French judge admits to having been pressured to give the Russians a higher ranking, and in an unprecedented ceremony, the Canadian pair is given Gold Medals, although the Russians are allowed to retain theirs.

 2004

Athens Games

The Games return to their birthplace

2005

The IOC decides to eliminate baseball and softball from the 2012 Olympics, the first sports to be dropped since polo in 1936

 2006

Torino Winter Games

2008

Beijing Summer Games

On May 8, 2008, the Olympic torch was carried by climbers to the “roof of the world”, reaching the 29,035 foot summit of Mount Everest

During the ascent, Tibetan women were the first and last to carry the torch

2010

Vancouver Winter Games

On February, 12th, shortly before the Games began, Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili died during a training run after his sled left the track and crashed into a pole.  As a result of this tragedy, the start for the course was moved further down the track.

2012

London Summer Games

About 4,000 newts and hundreds of toads were removed by hand and relocated during construction of the Olympic Park

The London Olympic site has more than 525 birdhouses, 150 bat houses and numerous otter holts to help maintain the local wildlife as part of the Games’ focus on producing an eco-friendly event

Some great Olympic Athlete names for 2012 are:

Michael Arms  – Rowing, New Zealand

Elena Baltacha – Tennis, Great Britain

Usain Bolt – Track, Jamaica

Jason Lavigilante – Boxing, Mauritius

2014

Sochi, Russia

2016

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2018

PyeongChang, South Korea

 

I hope you enjoyed this look at the Olympics

now to close with my very, very favorite Olympic quote

“When I race my mind is full of doubts – who will finish second, who will finish third?”

Noureddine Morceli, Algerian athlete, 1996 Summer Olympics

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17 responses »

  1. This is amazing!!! I feel like I took a History class on how the Olympic games came about and how everything happen!! Thank You for the free info!! My husband loved it…….

    Ana

  2. Fascinating!! The most instructive part to me was the history of women in the games. Think that clothing would inhibit a tennis serve…..?
    MER

  3. So much history. So many memories. The dedication of these athletes fill me with awe. Every single one who participates is a winner – whether they receive a medal or not. I am proud of all who take up the challenge to compete. Virginia

  4. Pingback: Paris Tips: Post-Olympic Games Pop Quiz « People, Places and Bling!

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