The UsefulNotes/OlympicGames is the most prestigious event in sporting worlds, so expect all display of emotions, good or bad, happy or sad, to be noticeably amplified. And in case of sad, expect lots of tears.
* In 1994, Tonya Harding attacked Nancy Kerrigan. You can't help yourself but feel sorry for Nancy Kerrigan sobbing in pain.
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BU3jfbb172E Derek Redmond]] is a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_Redmond#Athletics_career good story]] to start off with here. After running the best time in the first round and winning his quarter-final at the Barcelona 1992 games, he made a good start in the semi-final only for his hamstring to snap 250 meters from the finish line. He hobbled to a stop, collapsed in pain, and then ''got up again'' and began limping his way along the track in an effort to finish the race. His father Jim barged past security to help him through the last lap and across the finish line, to a standing ovation from the crowd of 65,000 spectators... but since his father helped him finish, he was officially disqualified and considered a "Did Not Finish."
** More video [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFKpZnok10s here]] and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZlXWp6vFdE here]].
*** Read the description of the second video for an additional tear jerker.
* Emeli Sande's song [[http://youtu.be/FsVIzK1VLdo during the closing Ceremony of 2012]] may belong in Music, but the whole damn thing was so moving, it deserves to be here too, especially when you consider how much the Olympics, in spite of innately being a competition, brings people together:
-->''Yeah we're all [[HumansAreGood wonderful, wonderful people]], so when did we all get so [[FearIsTheAppropriateResponse fearful]]?''
-->''Now we're finally finding our voices [[ThisIsNoTimeToPanic so take a chance]], come [[RousseauWasRight help me sing this]].''
* UsefulNotes/MuhammadAli's lighting of the cauldron at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. The identity of the final torchbearer had been kept secret and was only revealed when Ali appeared at the top of the ramp. After maintaining a low profile for the past decade, it was utterly ''shocking'' for the world to finally see history's greatest boxing champion and 1960 Rome gold medalist in the limelight again, ravaged by Parkinson's and the many head injuries he had suffered throughout his career. The gradual decline of boxing in recent years has sometimes been partially attributed to Ali's appearance at the Atlanta Olympics, which showcased the extreme injuries that most boxers are subjected to in the ring.
* At the Vancouver 2010 games, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nodar_Kumaritashvili Nodar Kumaritashvili]], a Georgian luge athlete, died in a practice run mere ''hours'' before the opening ceremonies. The Georgian team marched in with black scarves, and the Georgian flag sported a black band on top for the duration of the games. Quite a few of the other teams (at least those at the beginning of the Parade of Nations) put a band of black tape on their arms in honor of Nodar. The other Georgian luger, who also grew up with Nodar, tried to get back in practice the next day but ultimately couldn't go on and dropped out of the games.
* U.S. speedskater [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Jensen Dan Jensen]] was heavily favored in 1988's 500 and 1000 meter races, but after finding out mere hours before the first race that his sister Jane had died of leukemia, he fell in both races in truly heartbreaking fashion. In 1992 he struck out again. However, in 1994, in the 1000-meter race, which was widely known to be his final shot at Olympic gold, he did better. He set a world record, dedicated the win to his departed sister, and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWYRH5jnQBo skated a victory lap holding his baby daughter]], who, in a final burst of tearjerker, was named Jane.
* Canadian figure skater Joannie Rochette's mother died two days before she could watch her daughter skate for the short-program. After [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome winning]] [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming the bronze medal]], she placed her medal on her mother's casket for a time.
** See especially her expression when the thunderous applause starts at the end of [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQYoyKBR9bM her performance]], when you realize that, from her point of view, it's a great big "you did wonderful, we are so sorry for what happened to you, and we love you" from the whole of the country.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_massacre The 1972 Munich Massacre.]] ABC sportscaster Jim [=McKay=]'s harrowing and iconic announcement to the tragedy sums it up very well:
---> ''When I was a kid my father used to say "Our greatest hopes and our worst fears are seldom realized." Our worst fears have been realized tonight. They have now said there were eleven hostages; two were killed in their rooms yesterday morning, nine were killed at the airport tonight.'' '''''They're all gone'''''.
** What makes the Munich tragedy so much worse is that the organizers had gone out of their way to make this the ''antithesis'' of the "Nazi" Games in '36. These were the SugarWiki Games, "The Games of ''Peace And Joy''". The opening ceremonies were breathtaking, graceful, almost fairytale in color and feel. Lighthearted pop tunes instead of martial airs were played for the Parade of Athletes, and the Germans wore bright pastels. For the first time, the Olympic Flag was brought in by the athletes themselves instead of soldiers. Thousands of garlanded children -- ''Blumenkinder'' -- danced as a children's choir sang Karl Orff's setting of the medieval tune "Sumer Is Icumen In", and the Flame was brought in by a group of runners representing the continents and islands of the world. And at the closing ceremonies, in spite of everything, they still raised artist Otto Piene's installation, the Flying Rainbow...
* During the 2004 Olympic Games opening parade, when the country of Iraq was announced. The cheers that went up across the stadium easily trebled any that had come for the previous countries.
* Ditto for the 2008 Olympics, when they started singing "We're One World." Retroactively saddening that the athletes from Russia and Georgia walked in the opening ceremony side-by-side, only hours after their countries went to war.
** Yao Ming carried China's flag in one hand and the hand of nine-year-old Lin Hao in the other. Lin was a child who'd saved the lives of two friends when the three of them were trapped in the Sichuan earthquake just a month before.
* In the happy tears category, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donghua_Li Donghua and Esperanza Li]]. Donghua was told that he would be forbidden from representing China in the Olympics if he married Esperanza: he gave up his gymnastics career in China for the woman he loved. He would later become a Swiss citizen and represent them in the Olympics.
* And in 2000, [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-QivSECfj4&t=51m10s when North and South Korea walked in together under their "unification" flag, clasped hands held high.]]
* During the 2002 Winter Olympics, the German athletes asked a local man to carry their country's placard into the stadium. His name was [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gail_Halvorsen Gail Halvorsen]], the man who began dropping chocolate to children during the Berlin Airlift.
* Bela Karolyi carrying PluckyGirl Kerri Strug to the podium to accept her gold medal in the 1996 Atlanta Games.
* In the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, in the marathon, Tanzanian John Stephen Akhwari got injured and finished last. He in fact ran from Reforma Avenue until the Estadio Olímpico Universitario (i.e. a fuckload of distance), crossed the finish line and collapsed. He had this to say from his hospital bed the next day: "I don't think you understand. My country did not send me five thousand miles to start the race, they sent me five thousand miles to finish it".
** Another one: In the gymnastics field, Vera Caslavska won 4 gold medals and 2 silvers for Czechoslovakia and [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dykBBhaoczg turned her head as the Soviet anthem played]] because of the Prague Spring. That same year she got married in Mexico's Metropolitan Cathedral and received the nickname of "La Novia de México" ("The Bride of Mexico").
* The singing of "God Save the Queen" and accompanying flag-raising at the Beijing Olympics.
** And then the later "God Save the Queen" anthem at the 2012 London Olympics with Queen Elizabeth in attendance.
* Every time the Olympic Flame dies. Made even more a tear jerker if there is a song playing just before it happens. Some examples include [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-MRc29_ihA this quintessentially Greek "Farewell to the Flame"]] at the end of the 2004 Athens games, the London 2012 closing ceremonies when Music/TakeThat performed [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhSGwPoHo6w "Rule The World,"]] and at the Vancouver 2010 closing ceremonies when Music/NeilYoung performed [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iHilRqOLx8 "Long May You Run."]]
** Take That performing in London at all was a sizeable one for many Brits, given lead singer Gary Barlow lost his baby daughter only a few days previously. His voice cracking in the opening verse caused a lot of damp eyes.
** On that note, the IOC President's speech at the Closing Ceremonies: "And now, in accordance with tradition, I declare the Games of [insert year here] closed, and I call upon the youth of the world to assemble four years from now in [name of next host city]..." Partly sadness because the current games are ending, and partly heart-swelling hope for the next generation of Olympians.
* At the 2012 London Olympics, Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase, a British lightweight rowing duo, narrowly missed out on gold, getting silver instead. After the race was over, they cried in front of the cameras and apologised for letting down their country.
** Paula Radcliffe's complete breakdown after the Athens 2004 marathon (she withdrew after 36k, due to a combination of a stomach upset and heat exhaustion - the latterly typically blamed on the race's start time of mid-afternoon to satisfy international TV demands; there's a reason these things are usually done early in the morning) was even worse.
* Not occurring at the Olympics, but most definitely related to it, is the story of 1978 All-Around World Champion Elena Mukhina, a Soviet gymnast who was driven to her breaking point in pursuit of the Games -- quite literally. After Nadia Comaneci's astonishing all-around victory in Montreal and with the 1980 Games scheduled for Moscow, the Soviets were desperate to regain supremacy in the world of gymnastics. Mukhina, who had come out of nowhere to dominate the '78 world championships, represented their best hope for victory; her unique blend of consummate artistry and near-impossible difficulty made her breathtaking to watch. But while preparing for the 1979 Worlds, Mukhina broke her leg. Despite her pleading, her cast was removed long before she had healed, and despite having to be rushed in for a second, emergency surgery, she was forced back into training and put on a brutal diet. On top of all of this, her coaches were pushing her to include increasingly dangerous elements in her routines, including a complicated roll-out skill called a Thomas salto where the slightest miscalculation could result in paralysis or death. Two weeks before the Games, weak, starved, and exhausted, Elena landed the salto on her chin. Her spine snapped, and she was rendered instantly quadruplegic less than a month after her twentieth birthday. She later said that her first thought as she lay on the floor was, "Thank God, I won't have to go to the Olympics."
--> "Though Mukhina rarely gave interviews, she was vocally critical of the Soviet sports system and others involved in her training. She repeatedly described her accident as 'inevitable' because of the conditions under which she trained — exhausted and injured. 'There are such concepts as the honor of the club, the honor of the team, the honor of the national squad, the honor of the flag. They are words behind which the person isn't perceived,' she said in 1988. 'I was injured because everyone around me was observing neutrality and keeping silent. After all, they saw that I wasn't ready to perform that element. But they kept quiet.'
* Another story related to the Olympics, but not actually there, is that of Somali runner Samia Yusuf Omar. She had represented her country at the Beijing games of 2008, to the fury of Somalia's powerful Islamists, and for her safety had moved to neighbouring Ethiopia. Struggling to find a chance to train there, but still determined to run in London 2012, she travelled overland to Libya, hoping to cross to Italy and find a trainer there. It was not to be. The small boat she was in ran out of petrol. It was spotted by an Italian ship, whose crew attempted to rescue the people in the small boat, but, in the confusion, Samia fell into the sea and drowned.
* Michelle Kwan, after falling on a jump in her long program and having to settle for the bronze in 2002, skated in the exhibition after the competition to the song "Fields of Gold," decked out in gold. She received a standing ovation before and after she skated, and [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbUVLV49mas ended her performance in tears]].
** Her withdrawal from the 2006 games, ending her magnificent career without an Olympic gold medal.
* Midori Ito falling during her [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvDz0Up_J_k short program]] at the 1992 Games. It all worked out in the end, but Ito was so revered in the figure skating community that one rival's coach outright burst into tears seeing it, another claimed it "broke my heart", and even her chief rival for the gold medal, Kristi Yamaguchi, was visibly upset when it happened.
* In London 2012's women's épée semi-final, Shin A-lam appeared to win, but a problem with the timing clock meant that it had to be reset; in the one second it was reset to, her opponent scored a surprise hit and won. While her coaches and team officials were trying to appeal the decision, Shin couldn't leave the arena's piste since it would imply conceding defeat, and she was left there crying for more than an hour. She then lost the copper-medal bout.
* In 1976, Romanian women's gymnastics burst onto the scene with superstar Nadia Comaneci, who revolutionized the sport, and for every Olympics thereafter, Romania never ''once'' failed to medal in the team competition. 2016 was supposed to be the golden 40th anniversary, a throwback to the "Golden Age". But at the 2015 World Championships, at which only the top 8 teams would automatically qualify for an Olympic team berth, Romania -- who had just lost key all-arounder Ana Maria Ocolisan to injury and was made up almost entirely of inexperienced youngsters -- completely melted down in competition. They failed to qualify a team for the first time in fifty years, and to make matters worse, an ill-timed injury to their star Larisa Iordache meant that they also failed to qualify at the Test Event, despite injured veteran Catalina Ponor dragging herself out of retirement to lead their team. There will be no 40th-anniversary podium spot for Romania in Rio; for the first time almost since its inception, the Romanian program that produced champions like Comaneci, Ponor, Iordache, Emilia Eberle, Ecaterina Szabo, Aurelia Dobre, Daniela Silivas, Lavinia Milosovici, Simona Amanar, Maria Olaru, Andreea Raducan, Ana Porgras, Sandra Izbasa, and so many others will be represented by a lone gymnast at the Olympic Games. It is truly the end of an era.
* For the Rio Olympics 2016: [[http://www.telegraph.co.uk/olympics/2016/08/08/rio-olympics-2016-thai-weightlifter-sinphet-kruaithongs-grandmot/ Thai weightlifter Sinphet Kruaithong's grandmother dies celebrating his bronze medal lift.]]
* Also from the Rio games, the Williams sisters being eliminated in both the singles (Venus in the first round, Serena in the third) and doubles competition. Between their legendary joint and individual reputations and them being the defending gold medalists (along with victories in 2000 and 2008), the losses are simply staggering. Serena ''did'' win gold in the mixed doubles to compensate a bit.
* Kim Zmeskal came into the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as the reigning all-around world champion and was fully expected to come home draped in medals of varying colors. Instead, she tumbled from the balance beam on the first day of competition and never recovered--stepping out of bounds on her floor exercise, sitting down on a vault landing--and aside from a disappointing team bronze, went home empty handed.
* South African swimmer Chad le Clos finding out just weeks before the Olympics that his father has prostate cancer and that his mother's breast cancer, which had gone into remission a few years earlier, has returned. Even though they are both currently in treatment and his mother had just undergone a double mastectomy, they still came to Rio to support their son in the games.
* The backlash against gymnast Gabby Douglas. Despite having been a member of two gold medal winning teams, focus is far more on her being the only member of the team to not win an individual medal, and criticism of her supposed bad attitude. The first time Douglas appeared in 2012, all the internet could say was "what's wrong with her hair?"
* "[[http://sports.yahoo.com/news/nikki-hamblins-5-000-meter-000000095.html You can make friends in the moments that really should break your heart.]]" Now ''that's'' Olympic Spirit.
* Day 11 of the 2016 Games had hosts Brazil suffering a HumiliationConga from their female athletes (despite two men winning a boxing gold and a canoeing silver). The women's handball team that won the 2013 world championship and had a great group stage barely gave a fight in the quarterfinals against the Netherlands; pole vaulter Fabiana Murer, also a world champion, had a hernia cause her to not even pass the first attempts, making her underwhelm in three straight Olympics; the women's football that had just won a nailbiter quarterfinal on penalties again was pushed to the shootouts by an overtly defensive Sweden, who proceeded to win the semifinal ([[FromBadToWorse and later Brazil lost the Bronze medal match]]); beach volleyball favorites Larissa-Talita lost their semifinal to a German duo (and not only they lost the bronze after winning the first set, the Germans beat the other Brazilian team in the final!); and the indoor volleyball team that came from two straight golds and a group stage without losing any sets suffered a huge comeback by China, winning the first set, then the fourth to get to the tie-breaker, only for [[HopeSpot a possible tying point]] to become the Chinese winner - [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyLxMZBnHsU the reaction]] by the coach's grandson makes it even sadder.
* The news that Usain Bolt will be stripped of his 2008 4*100 relay gold (and, by extension, his triple-triple), thanks to the discovery that one of his teammates used a banned substances.
* At the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the German team for the women's 4 x 100 metres relay won the heats by nearly a second, and were all set to win the final, building up a lead that even America's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Stephens Helen Stephens]] probably couldn't have beat. And then the team's anchor (last runner), [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilse_Dörffeldt Ilse Dörffeldt]], dropped the baton right after the last hand-over, resulting in instant disqualification. [[https://youtu.be/a461M699YLE?t=415 Watch it here.]]
** "The girls proved they were genuine women by bursting into tears on the field."
** Even sadder is that this was a result of DamnYouMuscleMemory; Ilse dropped the baton trying to transfer it to her other hand, which she didn't have to do because she was the anchor, but was used to doing because she was normally in one of the middle legs.
--->"Her mouth wide open in shock, Doerffeldt held up her arms in the position of someone who was surrendering. ... As she turned round to look, the other runners, led by Helen Stephens, stormed past her. For a moment, Doerffeldt looked like a little girl stuck in the middle of a busy street, cars and lorries mercilessly shooting past her." From ''Berlin Games: How Hitler Stole the Olympic Dream''