Fun Facts About the Olympic Games

With the winter Olympics just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to find some interesting facts about the Games. From the brainy and zany to the unbelievable, here's a list of fascinating facts that you can share with your friends!

In the Buff

In ancient Greece, most athletes (all of whom were male) competed in the nude. They could also elect to wear a small leather kynodesme, which was similar to a modern-day thong. As such, no married women were allowed to be spectators during the Olympics on penalty of death, though single women could enjoy the view.

The World Wars

Over the course of 117 years, only three Olympic Games have been cancelled and in every case it was because of a World War. (1916, 1940 & 1944)

Drug Abuse

The first drug suspension during the Olympics was at the 1968 Mexico City Games. Swedish pentathlete, Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall, was disqualified for having a few pints of beer, following anti-doping regulations that were introduced just the year before. Reportedly, Liljenwall had "two beers" to try and calm his nerves before the start of the pentathlon.

The Olympic Marathon Barefoot

Today, you can probably think of many black athletes who have won the Olympic marathon, but the first didn't win until 1960. That year, Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia took first place, and he did it barefoot. There were few shoes left from Adidas, the shoe sponsor in 1960, so when Bikila went to select a pair, he ended up with shoes that didn't fit comfortably. In the end, he decided to run barefoot, the way he'd trained for the race.

Precious Metals

1912 was the last year that Olympic gold medals were actually made entirely out of gold. During the 1912 Stockholm Games, 90 solid gold medals were issued, each worth approximately $1,250 in pure gold content, and up to $5,500 as collectables. Following that year, athletes have only received gold-plated medals.

Chariots of Fire

This Academy Award-winning 1981 film is based on the stories of two British Olympic competitors, Eric Liddell and Harold Abrahams. Both beat out the odds to become gold medalists during the 1924 Paris Games. Today, the music to the film is considered by many to be the best sports soundtrack of all time.

The Olympic Rings

Red, black, blue, yellow and green - at least one of these colors appears in every country's flag. When the Olympic Rings were designed by Baron Pierre de Coubertin in 1912, he took into account every country in the world. The rings also represent the five major regions of the world: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and Oceania.

Longest Olympics

In London, 1908, the Olympics ran a staggering 187 days, from April through October. Typically, the Winter and Summer Olympics only last for a few weeks each.

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