We are all excited about the 2016 olympic games being held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. They will take place from 5th to 21st August this year. Over 10,000 athletes aspire to create history in their respective sports.
The olympics are an opportunity for citizens across the world to congregate and cheer on their best athletes. They are held every 4 years in different countries. Also, they are divided into two categories. These are the Summer and the Winter olympic games.
There are many facts and figures about these games that will amaze you. Read on to learn 15 things you may not know about the olympics.
1. They began as a religious ceremony
In ancient Greece, the olympic games were a religious celebration in honor of their supreme god Zeus. They were held in this way from 776BC up to 393AD. At the time that this practice was stopped, Christianity had taken root and recognized the olympic games as a pagan celebration. Thus, they were shut down. For centuries, the world remained without the olympic games until a French scholar known as Baron Pierre de Coubertin revived them. He proposed a motion across Europe to revive the games and he was successful when the 1896 olympic games were held in Athens, Greece. We enjoy the olympic games today as a result of his efforts.
2. What is the meaning of the olympic rings?
The international symbol of the olympic games is a group of five interconnected rings. They represent the five major regions of the globe. These are Africa, Europe, Asia, the Americas and Oceana. Each one of the rings has a distinct color. The colors are red, black, yellow, blue and green. The rings were designed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1912. Every national flag in the world has one of the colors in the olympic rings. Thus, they symbolize global unity.
3. The youngest olympic athlete in history
To compete in the olympics today, you have to be at least 16 years old. This rule was created in 1997. Prior to that, younger people could compete in the olympics. The youngest athlete ever was Dimitrios Loundras. A Greek citizen, he participated in the Athens Olympics of 1896. He was a gymnast and won a bronze medal in the games. Young Dimitrios was only 10 years old. He is the youngest olympic athlete to date.
4. The oldest olympic athlete in history
Oscar Swahn is the oldest athlete to compete in the olympics. The Swede won a gold medal for marksmanship in 1908. He was 60 years old. He did not stop there. After the Second World War, Swahn participated in the Antwerp olympics and won a silver medal. He was 72 years old. This was his last appearance at the global games.
5. No shoes required
It takes a lot of effort to run a marathon. You also need to have the right footwear so as to run for 26 miles (42 kilometers). In 1960, the olympic marathon winner was Abebe Bikila. He won a gold medal in the Rome Olympics and did so while running barefoot. He also was the first African ever to win a gold medal. His determination and resilience is admired to date.
6. The first televised olympic event
Today, we enjoy watching the olympics in our television sets at home. We can watch our favorite athletes participate and feel as though we are right there in the stadium with them. In the past, this was not so. Most of the world had to follow the olympics by listening to the radio. Germany distinguished itself by having the world's first televised olympic games. The 1936 Berlin Olympics were televised across the country. Often referred to as the Nazi Olympics, they were broadcasted in black and white. The television feed was only available in Germany because global television had not been invented at the time. Thus, everyone else followed the events by listening to the radio.
7. Are they really gold?
Every athlete in the olympics desires to win a gold medal. It is awarded to those who finish in the first position. Interestingly, this medal is not made of pure gold. For the last 100 years, olympic gold medals have not been made of pure gold. They are actually silver medals plated with gold. Despite their conflicting composition, they still hold immense significance to the athletes who earn them.
8. When the olympics were canceled
In the modern era, the olympics have been canceled a total of 4 times. Each of these times, the reason was war. In 1916, the Berlin Olympics were canceled due to World War 1. The 1940 Helsinki Olympics and the 1944 London Olympics were also canceled due to World War 2.
9. No clothes allowed
In ancient Greece, olympic athletes competed while naked. Only men were allowed to compete in the games and they had to do so wearing no clothes at all. They also oiled their bodies to honor the gods and to look more masculine.
10. The Summer and the Winter olympics
The olympic games are divided into the Summer and Winter editions. The Summer olympics are held during the warmer months of the year and are simply referred to as the olympics. On the other hand, the Winter olympics are held during winter. The Summer games are held every leap year while the Winter games are held every 2 years after a leap year. According to this schedule, there is an olympic event every two years.
11. The Rio 2016 Olympics are special
The Rio 2016 Olympics will be the first time that a country in South America has hosted the games. Rio de Janeiro beat Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid to host this global event.
12. The olympic torch relay
The olympic flame is a major symbol of the games. It is a torch whose origin comes from ancient Greece. According to legend, Prometheus stole fire from the Greek god Zeus.
Thus, he was celebrated by lighting a torch and keeping it burning throughout the olympic games. This tradition has been kept until today.
In case you have never seen this traditional ceremony, here's a short video!
The olympic torch is lit in Olympia, Greece. After that it is relayed across the world towards the host country. The flame is kept burning through a relay of specially chosen people. This year, the flame will begin its journey on the 21st of April and is expected to arrive in Rio de Janeiro on the 5th of August.
13. The world famous Maracanã stadium shines again
Some of the most memorable events of the olympics are the opening and closing events. This year, they will be held at the Maracanã Stadium. This stadium is famous for hosting the largest number of fans ever to watch a soccer match. Despite having a capacity of 78,000, the stadium hosted 173,000 fans in the final match of the 1950 World Cup.
14. The clubs will swing again
After an absence that lasted 112 years, golf has returned to the olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) decided to include it this year. Golf was previously played in the 1900 and 1904 olympic games. Golf course architect Gil Hanse designed the olympic golf course in Rio de Janeiro for this year's games.
15. Vinicius is our 2016 olympic mascot
With yellow and blue colors on his body, Vinicius is the official mascot for the 2016 Rio Olympics. He is a creature that has the features of a cat and a monkey. He can fly and can stretch his limbs and body to staggering lengths. This mascot is named after famous Brazilian musician, Vinicius de Moraes.
The Important Take Away
The olympics are always a center of global attention, fanfare and admiration. The 2016 Rio de Janeiro games are expected to be very entertaining due to the welcoming nature of the Brazilian people. Let these fun facts about the olympics prepare you for the main sporting event of the year!
Summer Olympic Games Facts for Kids
- The Summer Olympic Games or the 'Games of the Olympiad' were first held in the modern era in 1896 in Athens, Greece.
- The Modern Olympic Games are based on the Olympic Games of Ancient Greece.
- Held every four years, in honor of the Greek God Zeus, records show the Ancient Olympic Games began in 776 BC in Olympia and weren't halted until 394 AD.
- The prize for event winners in the Ancient Olympics was an olive branch wreath.
- Since the 1904 Olympics, medals are awarded in each event, with gold medals for first place, silver for second and bronze for third.
- Competitors qualify for individual sports in the Olympics by placing in a major international event or by achieving a sufficient qualifying time in sanctioned meets. There are a limited number of positions for each nation in each Olympic event. Nations qualify for team sports via continental qualifying tournaments.
- Greece, Australia, France, Great Britain and Switzerland are the only countries to have had representatives at every Summer Olympic Games.
- As of 2012, the USA has won more Gold (976), more Silver (758), more Bronze (666) and more total medals (2400) than any other nation at the Summer games.
- Great Britain is the only country to have one at least 1 gold medal at every Summer Olympics.
- The United States has hosted the Summer Olympics more times than any other nation, four in total, St Louis 1904, Los Angeles 1932 & 1984, and Atlanta 1996.
- London, United Kingdom, hosted the Summer Olympics in 1908, 1948, and 2012, making London the only city to host the event on three occasions.
- Due to the two World Wars there were no Olympic Games in 1916, 1940 or 1944.
- The 1956 Olympics, were held in Melbourne, Australia, the first time the games had been held in the Southern Hemisphere. Apart from the equestrian events that is, which had to be held 5 months earlier in Stockholm, Sweden, as Australian quarantine had restricted entry due to foot-and-mouth disease in the UK at the time.
- After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the 1980 Olympics held in Moscow were boycotted by 66 nations, including the United States and Canada.
- The last few Olympics have seen a record number of nearly 11,000 people, from a record number of 204 countries, competing in a record number of 28 sports and 41 disciplines over a record 302 events.
- The 5 rings of the Olympic flag represent Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Americas, they are linked together in friendship. Every national flag of the world has at least one of the rings colors, blue, black, green, yellow, and red.
- The Olympic flame is lit at Olympia in Greece every two years (Summer and Winter Olympics) before it journeys to the next host nation where it is paraded around until the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron at the opening ceremony.
- Tug of war was contested as a team event at every Summer Olympics from 1900 to 1920.
Interesting and Fun Olympic Facts — Team Empower Hour
In less than three months time we will be watching and cheering on the best athletes from around the world as they compete for Gold in the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games. To get in the spirit of things here are 20 Olympic facts you may have never heard of. Good luck to all of the athletes, all of us here at Team Empower Hour will be cheering loudly for you!!!!
20 – The Olympic Pricetag
The first modern Olympics was held in 1896 in Athens, Greece and cost roughly $448,00. Compare that to the most recent Olympic Games in Rio 2016 which cost a whopping $13.1 BILLION!!!
19 – Olympic Tiebreak
During the 1936 Berlin Games, two Japanese pole-vaulters tied for second place. Instead of competing again, they cut the silver and bronze medals in half and fused the two different halves together so that each of them had a half-silver and half-bronze medal.
18 – Badminton anyone?
It takes 16 goose feathers to make each badminton shuttlecock, with the best feathers apparently coming from the goose’s left wing.
17 – The Olympic Flag
The five rings of the Olympic symbol represent the five inhabited continents of the world and the six colors (blue, yellow, black, green, red and the white background) were chosen because every nations flag contains at least one of them.
16 – Continental Divide
Africa and Antarctica are the only continents in which the Olympics have never been held.
15 – Olympic Sponsorships
The first sponsor the Olympics was Coca-Cola. They sponsored the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam, and have supported every Olympic Games since.
14 – Summer or Winter?
The Rio Olympics in 2016 were the first Summer Games to be held entirely during winter time.
13 – And The Winner Receives….
At the first Modern Olympic Games in 1896 the winners were crowned with an olive wreath and received a silver medal. It wasn’t until the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, where the first gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded for first, second, and third place.
12 – Men Only
Women have been allowed to compete in the Olympics since 1900.
11 – Aged To Perfection
The oldest Olympian ever was Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn who won gold when he was 60 years old in the 1908 Olympics. In the 1920 Olympic Games in Antwerp he participated again, won his sixth Olympic medal and was crowned oldest Olympian at age 72 years and 280 days old.
10 – Making The Cut
In order for a sport to be included in the Olympics it must be practiced by men in 75 countries on at least 4 continents and by women in 40 countries on at least 3 continents.
9 – Setting The Record
The record for the most appearances at the Olympic Games is held by Canadian show jumper Ian Millar who has competed in 10 Olympics.
8 – All For Good Luck
The Beijing Olympics, 2008, began at exactly 8:08:08 PM on 8/8/08 because the number 8 is considered lucky in China.
7 – A Three-peat
London is the only city to host the summer Games three times: 1908, 1948 and 2012.
6 – Opening Ceremonies Goes Disney
In 1960, the Winter Olympic Games were held in Squaw Valley, California (United States).
In order to bedazzle and impress the spectators, Walt Disney was head of the committee that organized the opening day ceremonies.
The 1960 Winter Games Opening Ceremony was filled with high school choirs and bands, releasing of thousands of balloons, fireworks, ice statues, releasing of 2,000 white doves, and national flags dropped by parachute.
5 – Summer Only Please
Originally, the Olympics were only held in the summer. The first winter Olympics were held in 1924, in Chamonix, France.
4 – Running With No Shoes
In the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, Ethiopian athlete, Abebe Bikila became the Olympic marathon champion. He accomplished this feat, barefoot, while setting a new world record!
3 – An Olympic No No
The first Olympic drug suspension wasn't until 1968. At the 1968 Mexico City games, Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, a Swedish pentathlete, was suspended because he tested positive for a banned substance. That substance: Alcohol. He drank several beers before the pentathlon… which was against the rules… so he was suspended.
2 – Will They Ever Be Finished?
The Olympics once lasted 187 days. In 1908, the London Olympics went on for 187 days… they started in April and didn't end until October.
1 – Olympic Perfection
Nadia Comaneci was the first to score a perfect 10.0 in the uneven bars, but the scoreboards displayed it as a 1.0 instead.
25 Interesting Olympic Facts
Have you ever wondered about the origins and history of some of our proud Olympic traditions? Below you'll find answers to a lot of these inquiries.
Created by Pierre de Coubertin in 1914, the Olympic flag contains five interconnected rings on a white background.
The five rings symbolize the five significant continents and are interconnected to symbolize the friendship to be gained from these international competitions. The rings, from left to right, are blue, yellow, black, green, and red.
The colors were chosen because at least one of them appeared on the flag of every country in the world. The Olympic flag was first flown during the 1920 Olympic Games.
In 1921, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games, borrowed a Latin phrase from his friend, Father Henri Didon, for the Olympic motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (“Swifter, Higher, Stronger”).
Pierre de Coubertin wrote an oath for the athletes to recite at each Olympic Games. During the opening ceremonies, one athlete recites the oath on behalf of all the athletes.
The Olympic oath was first taken during the 1920 Olympic Games by Belgian fencer Victor Boin.
The Olympic Oath states, “In the name of all competitors, I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules that govern them, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.”
Pierre de Coubertin got the idea for this phrase from a speech given by Bishop Ethelbert Talbot at a service for Olympic champions during the 1908 Olympic Games.
The Olympic Creed reads: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.
The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
The Olympic flame is a practice continued from the ancient Olympic Games. In Olympia (Greece), a flame was ignited by the sun and then kept burning until the closing of the Olympic Games. The flame first appeared in the modern Olympics at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam.
The flame itself represents a number of things, including purity and the endeavor for perfection. In 1936, the chairman of the organizing committee for the 1936 Olympic Games, Carl Diem, suggested what is now the modern Olympic Torch Relay.
The Olympic flame is lit at the ancient site of Olympia by women wearing ancient-style robes and using a curved mirror and the sun. The Olympic Torch is then passed from runner to runner from the ancient site of Olympia to the Olympic stadium in the hosting city.
The flame is then kept alight until the Games have concluded. The Olympic Torch relay represents a continuation from the ancient Olympic Games to the modern Olympics.
The Olympic Hymn, played when the Olympic Flag is raised, was composed by Spyros Samaras and the words added by Kostis Palamas. The Olympic Hymn was first played at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens but wasn't declared the official hymn by the IOC until 1957.