Aside of being a stage on which the finest athletes in the world compete against one another, they are also a symbol of unity, sportsmanship and friendship between the different nations of our planet. This is why we decided to turn your attention towards a number of interesting facts about our beloved Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) accords the hosting of the games to a city instead of a country. This is rather unorthodox, given the fact that other major international sporting competitions such as the FIFA World Cup, the FIBA Basketball World Cup, Rugby World Cup and more are hosted by entire countries.
James Brendan Bennet "Jamie" Connolly was the first ever Olympian to win a gold medal at the modern Olympic Games. He represented the United States of America at the triple jump event at the 1896 Athens Games. He also won a silver and bronze medals at the high jump and long jump events, respectively. Connolly took part at the next Olympic Games in Paris during which he earned the silver medal at his main discipline, the triple jump.
The first Olympics to be televised were the 1936 Berlin Games. They were held from the 1st of August to the 16th of August. It was the host nation Germany who accumulated the most gold medals (33), followed by the USA (24) and Hungary (10). The Berlin Games will be remembered for the emergence of Jesse Owens who won four gold medals in four different athletic events hence becoming one of the most successful Olympians in history. Before the invention of television, people had to follow the games via radio and before that they could only read about the results in the newspapers.
Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras holds the record for being the youngest Olympian to win a medal. He took part at the 1896 Athens Games and competed at the team parallel bars discipline in which he and his teammates finished third. At the time he got his bronze medal, Loundras was 10 years and 218 days old. He is also known for being the last surviving participant of the 1896 Olympic Games.
The blue, black, red, yellow and green Olympic rings symbolise every national flag in the world as they all include at least one of these colours. They also signify Earth's five major regions:
The Olympic flag depicts the intertwined rings in a central position on a white background.
The modern Olympic Games have been cancelled only on three occasions. The 1916 Games in Berlin, the 1940 Games in Tokyo and the 1944 Games in London were all annulled because of the events of World War I and World War II. All cities got the chance to host the games once the wars were over. As mentioned above the German capital hosted the games in 1936, while the British and Japanese capitals staged the games of 1948 and 1964, respectively.
Oscar Swahn was a Swedish shooter who during his career participated in three Olympic Games (1908 London, 1912 Stockholm and 1920 Antwerp) and won a total of six medals, including three gold medals. However his most astonishing achievement was his silver medal from the 1920 Antwerp Games when he won it at the age of 72, a record that is unbeaten to this day. Swahn competed in the single, double and team single-shot running deer one of the oddest Olympic sports.
The greatest rivalry in the history of the Olympics was between the United States of America and the Soviet Union. As of date, the US has won more gold, silver and bronze medals than any other country in the world, including the former Soviet Union. The dominance of the Americans is mainly because to the fact that they have participated in all modern Olympic Games with the exception of the 1980 Moscow Games, when they boycotted them due political reasons. On the other hand the Soviets made their first appearance at the Olympics at the 1952 Helsinki Games. Since then they took part in a total of nine Olympics during which they ranked 1st on seven occasions and 2nd on two. One can only imagine what it would have been if the Soviet Union participated in the games before 1952 and hadn't collapsed after the 1988 Seoul Games.
London is the only city to have hosted three modern Olympic Games: 1908, 1948 and 2012. It was also the city that staged the first Paralympic Games in 1948. In terms of countries, the United States of America has hosted the summer games more times than any other stated in the world, four: 1904 St. Louis, 1932 and 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta.
The Olympic Hymn was officially recognised by IOC in 1957, despite the fact that it has been used since the first modern Olympic Games of 1896 in Athens. It was composed by Greek composer Spyros Samaras while its lyrics were drafted by renowned Greek poet Kostis Palamas.
The 2004 Athens Games will be remembered with the fact that the shot put events were held in Olympia, the same site where the ancient Games were staged. It was for the first time that female athletes competed in Olympia. Panathinaiko Stadium, the facility that hosted the first modern Olympics was also used during the 2004 Games, for the archery disciplines.