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Summer Olympic Games - 25 Amazing Facts

By Edited Jan 21, 2016 5 5

I

London Olympic Symbol
mpress your friends and family this summer with these 25 Summer Olympic facts:

London 2012 – the numbers:

1. Three-peat- With the upcoming 2012 Olympic Summer Games, London will become the only city to have hosted the games on 3 separate occasions.  The previous times were in 1908 and 1948 – both of which were preceded by some very unusual scheduling issues:

  • Although the Summer Olympics are only supposed to be held every 4 years, there was an attempt in 1906 to establish an off-cycle series of smaller games in Greece.  The 1906 was the first and only event of its type as the event proved too difficult to sustain.  Many historians consider the 1906 games and "Summer Olympics", however the International Olympic Committee ("IOC") does not.  The 1908 London games were held just 2 years afterward.
  • There were no Olympics in 1940 and 1944 due to World War II, therefore the 1948 Games represented the first Summer Olympics in over a decade.  The 1940 Summer Games were to have been played in Tokyo and the 1944 Games were scheduled for London.

2. Ticket Prices - The most expensive ticket for 4-hour Opening Ceremony on July 27th is ₤2,012 (i.e. the ticket price = the year).  The equivalent ticket for the 5.5-hour Closing Ceremony is ₤1,500.  Both events are completely sold out.

3. World class expense - The cost of running the games is a little over ₤2 billion (or USD 3.1 billion), which averages out to ₤5.1 million (USD 7.9 million) per hour over the 388.5- hour event.  This does not include the ₤8 billion in government spending that has been spent on building/upgrading facilities, nor the 8 million hours of volunteered time provided by locals.

4. London by the Numbers

  • Over the 16-day event, there will be:
    • 6.5 million visitors to London
  • watching
    • 10,500 athletes
  • representing
    • 204 nations
  • competing in
    • 302 events
  • based on
    • 39 disciplines
  • within
    • 26 sports.

5. It was almost Paris - When selected in 2004, London narrowly defeated Paris by 4 votes in the 5th round of IOC voting.


 Top Political Scandals of the Summer Olympic Games

6. The Olympics Darkest Hour - In 1972 in what would later be called the “Munich Massacre”, 11 Israeli athletes were kidnapped and murdered by an 8-man Palestinian terrorist group known as “Black September”.  Five of the terrorists were killed by West German authorities while the remaining 3 were captured.

7. Power to the People - At the 1968 Games in Mexico City, gold medalist Tommie Smith and bronze medalist John Carlos performed the “Power to the People” salute as a racial and human rights protest during the US national anthem.  Despite having been praised by the American Civil Rights Movement, both athletes were expelled shortly thereafter as the IOC felt the gesture was contrary to the Olympic spirit.

8. Hitler’s sleight of hand - The 1916 Games were to have been held in Berlin, however were cancelled because of World War I.  It took until 1936 for Berlin to host the games, by which time the Nazi regime had risen in prominence.  Despite a number of high political calls to boycott of the games given escalating geopolitical tensions (together with the fact that Germany wanted to use the Games to showcase “Aryian racial superiority”), the Games went forward.  Africian-American track-and-field superstar Jesse Owens won 4 gold medals, however it was Adolf Hitler’s apparent refusal to shake his hand at the medal ceremony that drew criticism.

9. Anti-apartheid – South Africa was banned from the Olympics from 1964 until 1992 due to its pro-apartheid stance. 

10. Tit for tat - At the 1980 Moscow Summer Games, US President Jimmy Carter organized a boycott to protest the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.  In total, 66 countries joined the US in their refusal to participate.   At the very next Summer Games in Los Angeles (in 1984), the Soviet Union together with 13 other Eastern Bloc countries refused to send their delegation due to reported concerns for athlete safety.


Top Athlete Related Scandals

11. Doping - American sprinter Marion Jones won 5 medals at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia.  Under oath, she later admitted to using performance enhancing drugs in 2007 and was stripped of her medals.

 12. Cheating - During the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, Canada, a Soviet fencer Boris Onishenko was found to have been using a handheld electronic device that incorrectly registered a strike on his opponent. He was allowed to finish his match but expelled from the games shortly thereafter.

13. Judging Controversy - At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Korea, the judges awarded local boxer Park Si-Hun the gold medal by declaring him the winner over American Roy Jones Jr despite having been dominated by Jones Jr’s 86 landed punches to 32.  Although the judges were later suspended, the IOC never reversed their decision.

14. Not technically an amateur - At the 1912 Games, American Jim Thorpe was stripped of his 2 gold medals (decathlon and pentathlon) when it was discovered that he was paid to play in a few minor league baseball games in 1909.  This decision was ultimately reversed some 71 years later when the IOC awarded Thorpe's gold medal to his children.  They were not able to presend the medal to him as he had passed away some 30 years beforehand.   

15. Involuntary Muscle Spasm?  - At the 1980 Games in Moscow, Polish Pole-Vaulter Wladyslaw Kozakiewicz was being soundly booed by the Soviet crowd as he was beating a Russian competitor.  After securing a world record of nearly 19 feet, Kozakiewicz gave a disrespectful arm gesture to the crowd.  Notwithstanding the fact that Polish officials attributed the gesture to an “involuntary muscle spasm”, to this day this move is commonly referred to as the Kozakiewicz gesture throughout Poland. 


Incredible individual accomplishments

16. The first perfect 10 – At the Montreal Games in 1976, 14-year old Romania gymnast Nadia Comaneci became the first to ever achieve a perfect score.  She went on to collect 3 gold medals that year. 

17. Golden boy – the record for most gold medals won in a single set of games was set in the pool by Michael Phelps at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing.  During his domination, he set 1 Olympic record and 7 new World records.  He also holds more gold medals than any other athlete with 14.

18. Most medals – Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina collected a total of 18 medals (including 9 gold) between 1956 and 1964.  She also holds the record for most individual medals with 14.

19. Best day – At the 1904 Games in St. Louis, 34-year old George Eyser won 3 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze on a single day WHILE competing on a prosthetic leg.  As a child, a train ran over his left leg and he was able to compete on a wooden prosthetic.

20. Only person to win gold in Summer and Winter Olympics – Eddie Eagan is the only individual to have won gold medals in different sports at the Summer and Winter Olympics.  He was able to take gold in 1920 in Belgium as a light-heavyweight boxer, then went on to win gold as a member of the 1932 men’s 4-man bobsled team at Lake Placid.


Other notables…

21. Penalty Box - Following World War I, Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary and Turkey were not invited to the 1920 games.  Germany was also excluded from the 1920 games.  In the aftermath of World War II, neither Japan nor Germany were invited to the 1948 Olympics and the Soviet Union opted to boycott the games.

22. Roller derby? - Softball and baseball were dropped as Olympic sports in 2004 and have not been replaced.  Consideration was given to adding golf, roller sports, rugby, karate and squash as replacements; however none of these events have received the required two-thirds vote from the IOC.

23. Olympics go viral – The first Summer Olympic Games to be televised was from Toyko in 1964.  The 2012 Olympics will mark the first ever internet simulcast on YouTube.

24. You Can’t Tweet This - London's athletes are subject to a strict Social Media policy in which they are not able to comment on other athletes, they cannot use the word “Olympic” in any of their posts, nor mention their sponsors by name.

25.Quite the Average – in the 26 sets of Summer Games of the modern era, the total medal counts according to the International Olympic Committee are:

   
Overall Medal Count
Average
 
Country
Games
Gold
Silver
Bronze
Total
Gold
Silver
Bronze
Total
1
United States
25
930
728
639
2,297
37
29
26
92
2
Soviet Union
9
395
319
226
940
44
35
25
104
3
Great Britain
26
207
255
203
665
8
10
8
26
4
France
26
191
212
233
636
7
8
9
24
5
Italy
25
191
157
174
522
8
6
7
21
6
China
8
163
117
105
385
20
15
13
48
7
Germany
14
163
163
204
530
12
12
15
38
8
Hungary
24
159
141
159
459
7
6
7
19
9
East Germany
5
153
129
127
409
31
26
25
82
10
Sweden
25
142
160
173
475
6
6
7
19

If you want to remember the highlights of the London Olympics, you will want to get your hands on NBC's Commemorative Collection or dress your toddler for Halloween in a Team USA Gold Medal costume.  

I would love to hear about your favorite summer olympic memories.  Please use the comments box below to provide your thoughts.

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Comments

Jul 27, 2012 1:59am
ObservingVessel
Great, interesting article! Well done on the feature! :)
Jul 27, 2012 8:55am
MeinePCwelt
Very interesting facts you put together.

Congrats on the feature!
Jul 27, 2012 9:32am
yummy-treasures
Interesting read. Thumbs up!
Jul 27, 2012 11:13am
RyanJJames
Thanks for the nice comments. This was my very first InfoBarrel article and I am thrilled to be featured.
Jul 27, 2012 3:22pm
egdcltd
I like lists of trivia. Here's another one - the only country to win a gold medal in every Summer Olympics is Great Britain.
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Bibliography

  1. "Summer Olympic Games." Wikipedia. 25/06/2012 <Web >
  2. "London 2012." London 2012. 25/6/2012 <Web >
  3. "2012 Summer Olympics." Wikipedia. 25/06/2012 <Web >
  4. "Tickets." London 2012 Official Website. 25/06/2012 <Web >
  5. "Munich Massacre." Wikipedia. 25/06/2012 <Web >
  6. "Eddie Eagan." Wikipedia. 25/06/2012 <Web >
  7. "Nadia Comaneci." Wikipedia. 25/06/2012 <Web >
  8. "Tommie Smith." Wiki. 25/06/2012 <Web >
  9. "Jesse Owens." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesse_Owens. 25/06/2012 <Web >
  10. "Eddie Eagan." Mid West Sports Fan. 25/06/2012 <Web >
  11. "List of multiple Olympic gold medalists at a single Games." Wikipedia. 25/06/2012 <Web >

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