Society

Top 10 Curious Facts About The Olympic Games

Here are some curious facts we are sure you did not know about the Olympic Games.

The Olympic Games have a long tradition that dates back to ancient Greece. Throughout history, they were split on the Summer and Winter Olympics, where athletes can compete in various disciplines based on the season of the year.

Every four years, a different country hosts the Olympics, and the event that the world is awaiting next is the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games. The winter edition of the following Olympics will be held in Beijing, China, in 2022. While waiting in anticipation of these special events why not catch up on some unusual facts we are sure you did not know about the Olympic Games. 

When And Where Did The First Olympic Games Take Place?

This happened in the 8th century BCE, in a Greek town called Olympia. The Greeks held the Olympic Games for every 4 years for the next 1200 years, when they were banned by the Emperor Theodosius I, who saw this as a pagan festival. 

Gold Medals Are Actually Silver?

Gold medals of Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro. Credit: Maria Moskvitsova / Shutterstock.com

Well, this was not the case in the early days. Up to 1912, gold medals were made of gold. However, how gold became something more and more valuable in the 20th century, today’s gold medals are mostly made of silver. Yet, to respect the Olympic rulebook, they have to contain at least 6 grams of gold.

Who Designs The Medals?

For each Olympics held, the host country has the honor to present a design for the medals that will be awarded to the winners and two runner-ups. However, some general rules need to be followed: every medal needs to be at least 60 mm wide in diameter and at least 3 mm thick. 

Tarzan - An Olympic Medal Winner

Vintage Tarzan Books Collection. Credit: Daniel Waters / Shutterstock.com

Not the actual Tarzan from the jungle, but the actor that played this role in 12 Tarzan movies called Johnny Weissmuller has competed in the Olympics. He was not there just as a famous actor, but he actually won five gold medals in various swimming disciplines in the 1920s. 

Five Rings To Rule Them All

Olympic rings. Credit: evgenii mitroshin / Shutterstock.com

The well-known five-interconnected-ring design came to life in 1912. The person responsible for the creation of what became a logo of the Olympics was Baron Pierre de Coubertin. From his perspective, each of the rings represented the five large regions of our planet: Africa, Europe, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The colors assigned to them are red, black, blue, yellow, and green. Interestingly, every nation in the world has at least one of these colors in their national flag, which was another way to present unity that happens during the Olympic Games. 

Youngest Olympic Athlete Ever?

In 1896, a 10-year-old boy competed in the Olympics that were held in Athens. Dimitrios Loundras competed as a gymnast and even won a bronze medal in the team parallel bars competition. 

The youngest male athlete to win a gold medal is Kusuo Kitamura, who was only 14 years of age when he won the 1500 m freestyle competition in 1932 when the Olympics were held in Los Angeles, California. The youngest female to win gold comes from Hungary. In the 1988 Olympics that took place in Seoul, Krisztina Egerszegi, a Hungarian swimmer won first place in the women’s backstroke competition at 200 m. 

Oldest Olympic Athlete Ever?

When he was 60 years old, Oscar Swahn from Sweden won a gold medal. Competing in shooting disciplines like the running deer and single-shot events, Swahn holds two records. First is the oldest athlete ever to win gold (60 years of age) and oldest athlete ever to compete (72 years old). 

Torch Relay Was A Nazi Idea?

Torchbearer athlete.

You have probably seen how, before every Olympic Games, a lit torch is carried across the state where the event will take place. This did not happen until the 1936 and the Summer Olympic Games held in Berlin. The people that were involved in the Nazi propaganda saw this as an opportunity to display the imagined superiority of the Aryan ways. The torch was carried across several countries before it finally reached Berlin, being presented in Greece, Bulgaria, Austria, Hungary, and the former countries of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. 

Were All The Olympics Held Without Problems?

Actually, no. In the modern era, meaning from 1896 on towards this day, the Games had to be canceled five times, and the dangers of war were the reason every time. The games that got canceled were the 1916 Berlin Olympics, because of World War I. Both Winter and Summer Games of 1940 and 1944 that was supposed to happen in Helsinki and London, also could not be held, this time because of World War II

Who Won The Most Medals?

American Olympic team marched into the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics. Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

When it comes to the Summer Olympic Games, the United States is way above other countries since they won 2189 medals. In their winter edition, the country of Norway is the leader with 263 medals won at the Winter Olympics.

About the Author

Antonia is a sociologist and an anglicist by education, but a writer and a behavior enthusiast by inclination. If she's not writing, editing or reading, you can usually find her snuggling with her huge dog or being obsessed with a new true-crime podcast. She also has a (questionably) healthy appreciation for avocados and Seinfeld.

Citations

Your MLA Citation

Your APA Citation

Your Chicago Citation

Your Harvard Citation

Remember to italicize the title of this article in your Harvard citation.

More in Society