Useful Notes / Olympic Games

"Citius, Altius, Fortius"

In its purest form, the Olympic Games are a time when the world stops fighting, gathers together, and proceeds to try to show up every other country by beating them at sports. Essentially, it is a chance for friendly competition between nations for the greater glory of one's homeland, all under the light of a fire lit in Olympia, Greece, where the Games began. In reality, however, it can get pretty political. Just ask the residents of Moscow and Los Angeles about their time under hosting duties.

Originally from Ancient Greece, the games were revived as a concept in 1896.

The Ancient Olympics

Held from 776 BC to AD 393 in (appropriately enough) Olympia, Greece. As with the modern Olympic Games, they were held every four years or Olympiad; Greek historians used the Olympiad to keep track of the years, because it was the one event that all of Greece could be counted on to attend and could therefore be used to cross-reference dates in the innumerable calendars the city-states used (each state had its own calendar, and some had twonote ).

The Games were only open to free men who spoke Greek. (Although women could enter horses in the equestrian event.) Winners were given wreaths made of olive branches and became heroes to their hometowns, which often brought with it a considerable sum of money. Athletes competed in the nude; in fact, our word "gymnasium" comes from the Greek word "gymnos," meaning "naked".

Back in the day, Olympics were very big deals indeed; during the Olympic period, all wars were put on hold, armies were forbidden to enter Olympia, and the use of the death penalty was suspended. In contrast to the modern world, where the Olympics gets suspended in favour of warfare.

The Games were ultimately banned by Emperor Theodosius I, who established Christianity as the state religion of The Roman Empire and viewed the Olympics as a pagan festival.

The Modern Summer Olympics

Established by a group led by Pierre de Coubertin, the first modern Olympic Games were held in Athens in 1896. Since then they have been held every four years, with the exception of 1916, 1940 and 1944, for fairly obvious reasons.

Originally a strictly amateur affair in the truest sense of the word; some early winners literally were just in town and decided to have a go. Jim Thorpe, who won two medals at the 1912 Stockholm Games, was actually stripped of them when it emerged he'd earlier played baseball semi-professionally. He got them back in 1983, thirty years after his death.

Events for the games have varied over the years, with some early events (like lacrosse and tug of war) not lasting and some more recent additions, like badminton in 1992, taekwondo in 2000 and rugby sevens from 2016.

One unique event for the games is the modern pentathlonnote  consisting of five events, purportedly based on the experience of a 19th century cavalry soldier behind enemy lines:
  • Show jumping note 
  • 200m freestyle swimming
  • Pistol shooting note 
  • Épée fencing
  • 3km cross-country running.

As a side note, from 1912 to 1952 cavalry officers were allowed to compete in the pentathlon, while cavalry soldiers were not; the reasoning was that soldiers trained in riding and weaponry for a living and hence were "professionals", while officers were independently wealthy and were considered "amateurs".

The host city for any given Summer Olympics is chosen about seven years in advance by the International Olympic Committee with cities submitting detailed bids, which are voted on in a fairly complex process. Hosting the Olympics is a very expensive thing, although it does give you a nice stadium or three and some vastly improved city infrastructure when you're done.

    The Summer Games 
All Games are numbered as the "Games of the [Roman numeral] Olympiad", an Olympiad being a four-year cycle.

  • I — 1896: Athens, Greece
    Duration: April 6-15
    Participating Athletes: 241 (all-male) from 14 NOCsnote 
    The very first Olympic Games. Irish-American runner James Brendan Connolly was the very first modern Olympic champion, by way of winning the triple jump. The highlight of the Games, however, was the first marathon, ran at the route said to have been taken by Greek soldier Pheidippides to relay news of the Greek triumph over the Persians at the Battle of Marathon, won by Greek water carrier Spyridon Louis, earning him a place in the Greek sporting pantheon. Princes George and Constantine of Greece ran the last lap alongside him. The second-place winner was also Greek, Kharilaos Vasilakos.
  • II — 1900: Paris, France
    Duration: May 14 — October 28
    Participating Athletes: 997 (975 men, 22 women) from 24 NOCsnote 
    Highlights include women participating for the first time, with Swiss sailor Hélène de Pourtalès becoming the first female champion, as well as American runner Alvin Kraenzlein winning the 60m relay (since discontinued after Saint Louis 1904), 110m hurdles, 200m hurdles and long jump — a record that stands to this day. The marathon's epic craziness involved a poorly laid-out course, leading to runners going in circles and two Americans claiming first place. (The winner, Michel Théato, was Luxembourgian.) Largely seen at the time as a sideshow to the Exposition Universelle (World's Fair) that Paris was hosting that year. It wasn't even called the Olympic Games; the French organizers insisted on calling it an "international sports competition". Pierre de Coubertin remarked afterward that he was surprised that the "Olympic Movement" survived these games.
  • III — 1904: Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
    Duration: July 1 — November 23
    Participating Athletes: 651 (645 men, 6 women) from 12 NOCsnote 
    A confusing, badly organized mess, with the Russo-Japanese War and the traveling keeping many Europeans away. Like Paris 1900, these were basically a sideshow for the big World's Fair that year — the Louisiana Purchase Exposition — and indeed, de Coubertin had been browbeaten into accepting St. Louis in lieu of Chicago, which actually won the hosting rights fair and square. The marathon was a farce and a half.note  In short, these were the Games that almost ended the Olympics!
  • 1906: Athens, Greece
    A special edition of the Games to celebrate its tenth anniversary, but is now retconned by the IOC as unofficialnote . Still, a lot of things we now take for granted began here, including the Parade of the Athletes, an Olympic Village, and the Closing Ceremonies. Prince George of Greece was again involved in the organizing and some of the judging, and ran the last lap of the Marathon alongside the winner, Canadian Billy Sherring.
  • IV — 1908: London, England, United Kingdom
    Duration: April 27 - October 31
    Participating Athletes: 2,008 (1,971 men, 37 women) from 22 NOCsnote 
    Included some rows over the American flag not being dipped before King Edward VII at the royal box; Italian marathoner Dorando Pietri, also a strychnine user, staggering into the stadium half-dead, turning the wrong way, collapsing and being dragged across the finish line by doctors and officials (he was hailed as the winner, but disqualified for the assist); and the marathon length being standardized at 26 miles 385 yards (42.195 kilometers) because of royal requests to start the marathon at the Windsor Palace. Another highlight is American medley runner John Taylor becoming the first ever African-American champion.
  • V — 1912: Stockholm, Sweden
    Duration: July 6-22
    Participating Athletes: 2,406 (2,359 men, 47 women) from 28 NOCsnote 
    Saw the first arts competitions, a tradition kept up until London 1948. Japan also debuted as the first ever Asian nation at the Games. First Games to have automatic timers, invented by R. Carlstedt. These Games also featured the first women's aquatics events, as well as the first pentathlon and decathlon, both won by Jim Thorpe (USA), the first Native American champion, and Finnish runner Hannes Kohlemainen setting records on the 5km, 10km and cross-country events.
  • VI — 1916: Berlin, Germany
    Cancelled due to World War I.
  • VII — 1920: Antwerp, Belgium
    Duration: August 14 — September 12
    Participating Athletes: 2,626 (2,561 men, 65 women) from 29 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Victor Boinnote 
    First appearance of the Olympic Flag, the Oath and the doves. First Games in which the U.S. Army and Navy took an official part. The U.S. team were brought over on a military transport with lousy accommodations and threatened to strike — and again when they discovered their Antwerp lodgings were in an old abandoned schoolhouse. The losers of the First World War weren't invited. Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn set a record for becoming the oldest medalist ever, winning silver at 72 years old (he previously won gold on the previous two Games), and introduced the world to legendary Finnish runner Paavo Nurmi, who won three gold and one silver.
  • VIII — 1924: Paris, France
    Duration: May 4 — July 27
    Participating Athletes: 3,089 (2,954 men, 135 women) from 44 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Géo Andrénote 
    This marked the second time the Games were held in Paris. Not especially well known, except for the movie Chariots of Fire, which focused on Harold Abrahams and Eric Liddell, British runners who won the 400m and 100m, respectively. For those who would pry deeper, the Games featured Paavo Nurmi once again, as he tears through the competition with five golds, complementing his compatriots' domination of the track events. These Games also introduced the Olympic Motto and the idea of a Village in which athletes could interact and train with each other.
  • IX — 1928: Amsterdam, Netherlands
    Duration: July 28 — August 12
    Participating Athletes: 2,883 (2,606 men, 277 women) from 46 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Harry Dénisnote 
    The Games that set several firsts, such as the first appearance of the Olympic Flame, the tradition of Greece starting the athletes' parade, the 400m oval which would become the standard for Olympic track events, and the sponsorship of Coca-Cola. Germany, banned in both 1920 and 1924, made its return. Austro-Hungarian-American swimmer Johnny Weissmuller won two gold medals, then went on to a film career as Tarzan, and Paavo Nurmi ended his career with a gold and a silver. Amsterdam 1928 also featured the first ever Asian gold medalist, Japanese triple jumper Mikio Oda.
  • X — 1932: Los Angeles, California, USA
    Duration: July 30 — August 14
    Participating Athletes: 1,332 (1,206 men, 126 women) from 37 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: George Calnannote 
    First use of the victory podium. Not exactly notable except for people who watched Letters from Iwo Jima — one of its main characters is Takeichi Nishi, Japan's only equestrian gold medalist, who would later die as a soldier during the defense of Iwo Jima. Fellow Japanese swimmer Kusuo Kitamura also became the youngest ever Olympic champion at 14 years old.
  • XI — 1936: Berlin, Germany
    Duration: August 1-16
    Participating Athletes: 3,963 (3,632 men, 331 women) from 49 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Rudolf Ismayrnote 
    Lighter of the Flame: Fritz Schilgen
    "The Nazi Games" and the first to be broadcast on television. African-American runner Jesse Owens won four gold medals (in the process defying Adolf Hitler's philosophy of Aryan supremacy) in a highly controversial games that saw a Spanish boycott, the first torch relay, and only "Aryans" being allowed to compete for Germany.
  • XII — 1940: Tokyo, Japan
    Taken from Tokyo when the Second Sino-Japanese War began, then moved to Helsinki, Finland, then definitely cancelled after World War II began. An unofficial POW games was held in Stalag XIII-A though.
  • XIII — 1944: London, England, United Kingdom
    Cancelled, also due to World War II. However, an unofficial POW games was held in Oflag II-C by the Polish prisoners with German permission.
  • XIV — 1948: London, England, United Kingdom
    Duration: July 29 - August 14
    Participating Athletes: 4,104 (3,714 men, 390 women) from 59 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Don Finlaynote 
    Lighter of the Flame: John Mark
    This marked the second time the Games were held in London. The "austerity games", with athletes housed in barracks. Germany and Japan, losers of World War II, were banned. These Games featured a breakthrough in women's sports through Dutch runner Fanny Blankers-Koen, then a 30-year-old mother of three, winning both the 100m, 200m, 80m hurdles and 4×100m relay.
  • XV — 1952: Helsinki, Finland
    Duration: July 19 — August 3
    Participating Athletes: 4,955 (4,436 men, 519 women) from 69 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Heikki Savolainennote 
    Lighters of the Flame: Paavo Nurminote  (on-track) and Hannes Kolehmainennote  (above stadium)
    The only appearance of Saar, then not part of West Germany. These Games marked the debut of Israel as well as the USSR, in its first appearance since Tsarist Russia last competed in Stockholm 1912 (previously, Soviet leaders denounced the Games as "bourgeois" and created their own "Workers Olympics"). Also, Japan and Germany, having been banned in 1948, made their returns again, although only West Germany represented Germany as a whole. These Games featured an astonishingly successful performance by Hungarian athletes, as well as Czechoslovak runner Emil Zátopek winning both the 5km, 10km and marathon, as well as USA's Bob Mathias becoming the first to successfully defend his decathlon gold. Also among the athletes was British runner Roger Bannister, whose failure to win the 1500m event inspired him to train harder, leading him to ultimately become the very first runner to run a mile (1609 m) under four minutes in a 1954 race.
  • XVI — 1956: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia / Stockholm, Sweden
    Duration: November 22 — December 8
    Participating Athletes: 3,314 (2,938 men, 376 women) from 72 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: John Landynote 
    Lighter of the Flame: Ron Clarkenote 
    First Games in the southern hemisphere. The equestrian events were held in Stockholm due to quarantine regulations. Australian athletes had a field day, courtesy of runner Betty Cuthbert winning the 100m, 200m and 4×100m, as well freestyle swimmers Murray Rose, the first to win multiple golds since Weissmuller (400m, 1500m and 4×200m), and Dawn Fraser at the 400m and 4×100m. The Games also featured the debut of Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, who won four gold and one each of silver and bronze. The Americans left far from empty-handed, with sprinter Bobby Morrow winning the same events on the men's side as Cuthbert on the women's, as well as discus thrower Al Oerter, who would win the first of his four discus golds – the first of only two athletesnote  to win four golds in the same event.
  • XVII — 1960: Rome, Italy
    Duration: August 25 — September 11
    Participating Athletes: 5,338 (4,727 men, 611 women) from 83 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Adolfo Consolininote 
    Lighter of the Flame: Giancarlo Peris
    The Games featured American runner and polio survivor Wilma Rudolph winning three sprint medals. The Games also marks the debut of nineteen-year-old Cassius Clay — the boy who would become Muhammad Ali — through a gold medal at light-heavyweight boxing. Other highlights included Ethiopian marathoner Abebe Bikila running barefoot to become the first black African gold medalist, Australian runner Herb Elliott dominating the 1500m event, and American decathlete Rafer Johnson defeating his Taiwanese friend Yang Chuan-kwang in perhaps one of the most dramatic finals in Olympic history, as well as Larisa Latynina adding three golds, two silvers and a bronze to her collection.
  • XVIII — 1964: Tokyo, Japan
    Duration: October 10-24
    Participating Athletes: 5,151 (4,473 men, 678 women) from 93 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Takashi Ononote 
    Lighter of the Flame: Yoshinori Sakainote 
    First Games in Asia, the first broadcast live via satellite, and also the first in color for viewers in Japan and America. To emphasize Japan's message of postwar recovery, the Flame was lit by 19-year-old runner Yoshinori Sakai, who was born in 6 August 1945 — the day the atomic bomb destroyed his native Hiroshima. The Games featured Larisa Latynina capping her career with two each of gold, silver and bronze, making her one of the most successful Olympians ever with 9 gold, 5 silver and 4 bronze, for a total of 19 medals total — a record that stood until Michael Phelps broke it in 2012. Other highlights include Dawn Fraser's final gold at the 100m freestyle swimming (capping a 3-peat), Abebe Bikila becoming the first marathoner to successfully defend his Olympic gold, and Native American runner Billy Mills's astonishing win at the 10km event — the only American to do so.
  • XIX — 1968: Mexico City, Mexico
    Duration: October 12-27
    Participating Athletes: 5,516 (4,735 men, 781 women) from 112 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Pablo Garridonote 
    Lighter of the Flame: Enriqueta Basilionote 
    American runners Tommie Smith and John Carlos, gold and bronze winners at the 200m race, respectively, did a Black Power salute and got banned for life, while somebody got banned for drug use for the first time. The Games were also marred by student protests against the dictatorial government, which ended with the army being sent in to massacre protesters and civilians, ten days before the opening ceremony. On a lighter note, the Games feature the first woman to light the Olympic Flame, hurdler Enriqueta Basilio. American long jumper Bob Beamon also set a record at the long jump with 8.90m – a world record until 1991, and an Olympic record to this day. Other highlights included Tanzanian marathoner John Stephen Akhwari finishing last at the marathon, trudging on despite a dislocated knee, as well as a boxing gold for future American heavyweight star George Foreman.
  • XX — 1972: Munich, West Germany (now Germany)
    Duration: August 6 — September 10
    Participating Athletes: 7,134 (6,075 men, 1,059 women) from 121 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Heidi Schüllernote  (Athletes) / Heinz Pollaynote  (Judges)
    Lighter of the Flame: Gunter Zahn
    Tragically overshadowed by a hostage crisis involving eleven Israeli athletes and Palestinian terrorists which ended in bloodshed. Particularly jarring since the Games are meant to be a Lighter and Softer counterpoint to Berlin 1936's Nazi leanings, with its basic aesthetics designed to be as colorful and joyful as possible. Other highlights include a controversial win of the Soviet basketball team against the USA, as well as Jewish-American swimmer Mark Spitz setting a record for most medals in one Games (seven), which stood until Michael Phelps surpassed it in 2008, and Belarusian Soviet gymnast Olga Korbut winning three gold and one silver. Also the first summer edition to include the judges' oath of impartiality.
  • XXI — 1976: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
    Duration: July 17 — August 1
    Participating Athletes: 6,084 (4,824 men, 1,260 women) from 92 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Pierre Saint-Jeannote  (Athletes) / Maurice Fauget (Judges)
    Lighters of the Flame: Stéphane Préfontaine and Sandra Hendersonnote 
    Montreal 1976 saw a 24-nation African boycott over New Zealand's national rugby team touring South Africa (then banned from the Olympics due to apartheid), a guy win a gymnastics medal with a broken knee and the first perfect score in a gymnastics event by fourteen-year-old Nadia Comăneci from Romania. The scoreboards couldn't handle it. The Games were also notorious for Canada not winning a gold medal on its home Games, a streak that continued in Calgary 1988 but finally broken come Vancouver 2010. The Games also put Montreal in debt for the next three decades. Other highlights include Georgian Soviet triple jumper Viktor Saneyev complete a rare three-peat, American decathlete Caitlyn (then Bruce) Jenner setting a world record with 8,634 points, and American boxers Sugar Ray Leonard, Leon Spinks, Michael Spinks and Leo Randolph winning gold medals before launching successful professional careers. Also among the athletes was Thomas Bach, member of the gold-winning West German fencing team, who in 2013 would become the very first Olympic medalist to become IOC President.
  • XXII — 1980: Moscow, USSR (now Russia)
    Duration: July 19 — August 3
    Participating Athletes: 5,179 (4,064 men, 1,115 women) from 80 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Nikolai Andrianovnote  [Athletes] / Aleksandr Medvednote  [Judges]
    Carrier of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Viktor Saneyevnote  / Sergei Belovnote 
    The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan a year earlier saw a large-scale (65 nations) USA-led boycott of these Games, with some nations only parading under the Olympic Flag, so these Games were dominated by the USSR and East Germany. A lot of world records got broken, though. Other standouts include British decathlete Daley Thompson breaking Jenner's record en route to gold (and later repeating four years later) and Cuban boxer Teófilo Stevenson becoming the only heavyweight to win three consecutive golds. Even though the boycott was made on its behalf, Afghanistan ironically participated and later joined the 1984 boycott (it had a pro-Soviet regime at the time, after all). These were also the first games in which the opening and closing ceremonies became the expensive, full-blown, almost theatrical events we know today.
  • XXIII — 1984: Los Angeles, California, USA
    Duration: July 28 — August 12
    Participating Athletes: 6,829 (5,263 men, 1,566 women) from 140 NOCsnote 
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jennernote , Wyomia Tyusnote , Parry O'Briennote , John Nabernote , Al Oerternote , Mack Robinsonnote , Billy Millsnote  and Bill Thorpe, Jr.note , accompanied by Sammy Leenote , Pat McCormicknote  and Richie Sandovalnote 
    Olympic Oath: Edwin Mosesnote 
    Carrier of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Gina Hemphillnote  / Rafer Johnsonnote 
    This marked the second time the Games were held in Los Angeles. A smaller, USSR-led Eastern boycott for this one in retaliation for the USA-led one four years prior. This allowed America to earn its most medals since Saint Louis 1904. Also had a theme by John Williams that is still played by NBC to this day and a guy fly a jet-pack during the opening ceremonies, and the appearance of a fake UFO during the closing ceremonies. Widely considered the most financially successful Games, according to The Other Wiki. Many of the Games' notable events come from athletics, with USA's Carl Lewis matching Owens' feat in winning the 100m, 200m, 4×100m and long jump (in the first of his four appearances), Morocco's Nawal El Moutawakel becoming the first woman from an Islamic nation to win a gold medal, and Great Britain's Sebastian Coe the first back-to-back 1500m winner. Other notables include British rower Steve Redgrave winning the first of his five consecutive gold medals, Chinese gymnast Li Ning winning 3 gold, 2 silver and 1 bronze — the most of any Chinese athlete — presaging his country's ascendancy in future editions, and the first appearance of future Dream Team players Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing and Chris Mullin, then amateurs, as the US basketball team wins gold. These are the last Summer Games to date to be telecast in the United States on a network other than NBC (in this case, ABC).
  • XXIV — 1988: Seoul, South Korea
    Motto: "Harmony and Progress"
    Duration: September 17 — October 2
    Participating Athletes: 8,391 (6,197 men, 2,194 women) from 160 NOCsnote 
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: Yang Jung-monote , You In-taknote , Kim Weon-keenote , Shin Joon-supnote , Jo Hea-jungnote , Choi Aei-young, Yoon Soo-kyungnote  and Seo Hyang-soonnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Hur Jaenote  and Son Mi-nanote  [Athletes] / Lee Hak-raenote  [Judges]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighters of the Flame: Sohn Kee-chungnote  / Im Chun-aenote  / Kim Won-tak, Chung Sun-man and Sohn Mi-cheungnote 
    The attention the Games brought helped make South Korea a democracy, in an event that saw a very controversial boxing judgment. Also, Canadian runner Ben Johnson was caught doping after winning gold in the 100m. During most opening ceremonies, doves of peace were released after the lighting of the Flame. In Seoul, they let the doves out before the torch came in, a number of confused doves perched on the rim of the Olympic Cauldron just before it was lit, and were burned to death on worldwide television; that's why this was the last Games at which live doves were released (future editions of the Games would use replicas). On a side note, one gymnast who was infamously snubbed when participants were selected for this games despite winning the National Championship in her home country went on to become an action star in the James Bond parody Spitfire. Canadian Ben Johnson won a gold medal and a new record at the 100 metre dash, only to be promptly stripped of both when he was caught using banned steroids. There was a boycott by North Korea, which had demanded that the Games be co-hosted by both Koreas. Albania and Cuba joined the North Korean boycott, but the less hardline communist countries (including glasnost-era USSR) competed.
  • XXV — 1992: Barcelona, Spain
    Motto: "Friends Forever"
    Duration: July 25 — August 9
    Participating Athletes: 9,356 (6,652 men, 2,704 women) from 169 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Luis Dorestenote  [Athletes] / Eugeni Asensionote  [Judges]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Herminio Menéndeznote  / Juan Antonio San Epifanio "Epi"note  / Antonio Rebollonote 
    Twelve of the states of the recently defunct USSR competed as a unified team and Yugoslav athletes competed as individuals. As the first Games where professionals are allowed to compete at men's basketball, USA exploited the opportunity by sending a "Dream Team" composed of NBA superstars such as Michael Jordan, which steamrolled their way to gold. Also best-known for having probably the most memorable lighting of the Olympic Flame in history, featuring Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo firing a flaming arrow into the cauldron note . Also featured the Olympics theme song "Barcelona", sung by Freddie Mercury and Montserrat Caballé. First Games since 1960 to feature South Africa, which had previously been banned as punishment for apartheid. Other notables include Fermín Cacho becoming the surprise winner of the 1500m run and the first Spanish running champion; 13-year-old Chinese diver Fu Mingxia the youngest Olympic gold medalist of all time; and Belarusian gymnast Vitaly Scherbo (as part of the Unified Team) winning six golds (four on one day alone), and also tying Eric Heiden's record from the 1980 Winter Games with five golds in individual events.
  • XXVI — 1996: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
    Motto: "Celebration of the Century"
    Duration: July 19 — August 4
    Participating Athletes: 10,320 (6,797 men, 3,523 women) from 197 NOCsnote 
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: Edwin Moses, Steve Lundquistnote , Katrina McClainnote , Geoff Gaberinonote , Mary T. Meaghernote , Ralph Bostonnote , Dave Maggardnote  and Benita Fitzgerald-Brownnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Teresa Edwardsnote  [Athletes] / Hobie Billingsleynote  [Judges]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Al Oerter [Outside] / Evander Holyfieldnote  and Voula Patoulidounote  / Janet Evansnote  / Muhammad Alinote 
    Touted as a commemoration of the centennial of the Games, though overshadowed by a bomb attack in the Olympic Park. Ruined the career and ultimately prematurely ended the life of the security guard who called in the threat. The selection of the venue also caused the Greeks to switch to Pepsi given Atlanta is Coca-Cola's headquarters. On the brighter side, the Games featured the lighting of the Flame by one of Atlanta's most famous locals: Muhammad Ali, then a 54-year-old with Parkinson's disease. Also notable for being the first Opening Ceremonies scripted with a flowing, cohesive storyline, a concept since used in every subsequent Summer games' opening ceremonies thereafter. Also the first Opening Ceremonies to have an opera written to symbolize the spirit of the Games, and also noted for featuring marching-bands and cheerleaders, both of which are traditions somewhat unique to the United States (and to a lesser extent, Canada). Other notable events include the USA women's gymnastics team winning its first gold, Canadian runner Donovan Bailey setting a world record at the 100m note , American runner Michael Johnson doing the same for the 200m and 400m, France's Marie-José Pérec winning the same two events as Johnson (but without the world records), Carl Lewis matching Al Oerter with his fourth long jump gold, and USA winning gold for the very first women's football/soccer tournament. Also notable for being the only recent Olympics in which no nation swept the podium (in other words, in no event did all 3 medals go to the same nation).
  • XXVII — 2000: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
    Motto: "Share the Spirit, Dare to Dream"
    Duration: September 15 — October 1
    Participating Athletes: 10,651 (6,582 men, 4,069 women) from 199 NOCsnote 
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: Bill Roycroftnote , Murray Rosenote , Liane Toothnote , Gillian Roltonnote , Marjorie Jacksonnote , Lorraine Crappnote , Michael Wendennote  and Nick Greennote 
    Olympic Oaths: Rechelle Hawksnote  [Athletes] / Peter Kerrnote  [Judges]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Herb Elliottnote  [Outside] / Female Australian Olympic medalists, celebrating the centenary of women's participation in the Games: Betty Cuthbertnote  (on wheelchair) and Raelene Boylenote  / Dawn Frasernote  / Shirley Stricklandnote  / Shane Gouldnote  / Debbie Flintoff-Kingnote  / Cathy Freemannote 
    Basketball fans probably remember that dunk by Vince Carter. Sydney 2000 was also dubbed the "Women's Games", celebrating 100 years of female participation (it was also the first Games to have women's weightlifting, and saw increased female participation, albeit then at 25% the number of men). The final torch relay was done entirely by women medalists from past Games, culminating with aboriginal runner Cathy Freeman, silver medalist from Atlanta 1996, who would win her event, the 400m run.
  • XXVIII — 2004: Athens, Greece
    Motto: "Welcome Home"
    Duration: August 13-29
    Participating Athletes: 10,625 (6,296 men, 4,329 women) from 201 NOCsnote 
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: Petros Galaktopoulosnote , Ilias Hatzipavlisnote , Niki Bakoyianninote , Angelos Basinasnote , Leonidas Kokasnote , Michail Mouroutsosnote , Valerios Leonidisnote  and Dimosthenis Tampakosnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Zoe Dimoschakinote  [Athletes] / Lazaros Voreadisnote  [Judges]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Nikos Galisnote  / Mimis Domazosnote  / Voula Patoulidou / Kakhi Kakhiashvilinote  / Ioannis Melissanidisnote  / Nikolaos Kaklamanakisnote 
    This marked the second time the Games were held in Athens. The torch relay for this Olympics notably spanned every continent. Touted as the "Homecoming Games", this marks Greece's best performance since the inception of the games. However, these games were notable by the low number of attendance at the events, and eventually being one of the contributors to putting Greece into a crippling default later in the decade. These Games also served as the introduction to 19-year-old American swimmer Michael Phelps, who showed much promise with six golds and two bronzes. Other notable events include Brazilian runner Vanderlei de Lima defying a last-minute crasher to win bronze, hurdler Liu Xiang winning China's first gold in men's athletics, Moroccan runner and world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj finally winning the 1500m (following a last-minute stumble in 1996 and being outpaced by Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge in 2000) as well as the 5000m, and a shock defeat by the US men's basketball team, which had to settle for bronze.
  • XXIX — 2008: Beijing, China
    Motto: "One World, One Dream"
    Duration: August 8-24
    Participating Athletes: 10,942 (6,305 men, 4,637 women) from 204 NOCsnote 
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: Zhang Xielinnote , Pan Duonote , Zheng Fengrongnote , Yang Yang (A)note , Yang Lingnote , Mu Xiangxiongnote , Xiong Ninote  and Li Lingweinote 
    Olympic Oaths: Zhang Yiningnote  [Athletes] / Huang Lipingnote  [Judges]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Xu Haifengnote  / Gao Minnote  / Li Xiaoshuangnote  / Zhan Xugangnote  / Zhang Junnote  / Chen Zhongnote  / Sun Jinfangnote  / Li Ningnote 
    A controversial Games, where the torch relay became a source of protests by anti-chinese government demonstrators, including more than one Torch runner getting attacked by pro-Tibet protesters and the Flame actually being deliberately put out three times in Paris by security. (Torch relay teams carry a backup lamp, also lit in Athens, for incidents like these.) This got so bad that it's pretty much killed off any chances of another worldwide torch relay. The main event, though, passed without incident. Phelps set the record for the most medals in one Games at eight golds on all his events, also tying Heiden and Scherbo for most golds in individual events in a single Games at five. This also marked the debut of 21-year-old Jamaican runner Usain Bolt, who set a 100m sprint record while showboating for the last 20 meters. Live but Delayed. The dazzling ceremonies of these Games will possibly not be beaten for a long, long time. The opening culminated with Li Ning, 1984 six-time medal-winning gymnast (3 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze) and China's most successful Olympian, literally running through the sky with the Torch in hand across a giant scroll which unrolled to reveal the stylized cauldron as he lit the Flame.
  • XXX — 2012: London, England, United Kingdom
    Motto: "Inspire a Generation"
    Duration: July 27 — August 12
    Participating Athletes: 10,768 (5,992 men, 4,776 women) from 204 NOCs[[note]]Brunei returns; Netherlands Antilles dissolves, with its athletes (including those from South Sudan) entering as independents
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: Doreen Lawrence, Baroness Lawrence of Clarendonnote , Haile Gebrselassienote , Sally Beckernote , Ban Ki-Moonnote , Leymah Gboweenote , Shami Chakrabartinote , Daniel Barenboimnote , and Marina Silvanote ; brief cameo by Muhammad Ali
    Olympic Oaths: Sarah Stevensonnote  [Athletes] / Mik Basi (boxing) [Judges] / Eric Farrell [Coaches]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighters of the Flame: David Beckhamnote  [by motorboat] / Steve Redgravenote  / Seven teenage athletes nominated by seven legendary British Olympians, in the spirit of the Games' theme of "inspiring a generation": Callum Airlie (Shirley Robertsonnote ), Jordan Duckitt (Duncan Goodhewnote ), Desiree Henry (Daley Thompsonnote ), Katie Kirk (Mary Petersnote ), Cameron MacRitchie (Steve Redgrave), Aidan Reynolds (Lynn Daviesnote ) and Adelle Tracey (Kelly Holmesnote )
    This made London the first city to host the Games thrice, as well as the first Games where all 204 participating nations, including individual athletes from recently-dissolved Netherlands Antilles and newly-independent South Sudan, have female athletes. These Games boast Great Britain's best medal haul since 1908 (ending with a respectable third-place finish behind perennial board-leaders USA and China), Usain Bolt's continued domination of sprint events, and Michael Phelps surpassing Latynina's record with four golds and two silvers, marking a new world record of 22 medals (eighteen gold and two each of silver and bronze). The Opening Ceremonies, directed by Danny Boyle, will probably also go down in history as "the one where the Queen parachuted into the arena with James Bond; also there was something involving Kenneth Branagh in a top hat". Mention should also be made of the original cauldron design, comprising a loose assembly of 204 copper "petals" (one carried in by a member of each participating nation's team) with thin copper gas pipes as "stalks". Once lit these rose up to form a tight cluster so that the flames merged, symbolizing unity.
  • XXXI — 2016: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Motto: "A New World"
    Duration: August 5-21
    The first games in South America. These games will come just two years after Brazil hosts The World Cup in 2014, so preparations are already well underway—or would be, if they weren't tied up in red tape. Controversy has also cropped up regarding the dangerous levels of pollution in Rio's water.
  • XXXII — 2020: Tokyo, Japan
    Motto: "Discover Tomorrow"
    Duration: July 24 — August 9
    This will mark the second time the Games are held in Tokyo, the first time an Asian city hosts the Games twice, and the fifth in a list of such repeats overall, after Athens (1896, 2004), Paris (1900, 1924), London (1908, 1948, 2012), and Los Angeles (1932, 1984).
  • XXXIII — 2024: (TBA)
    To be decided between Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome in a 2017 meeting hosted by Lima, Peru. Budapest is a multiple-time candidate, while the latter three could be repeaters should either one win, with Los Angeles and Paris potentially becoming the second three-time host after London.

The Modern Winter Olympics

The Winter Olympic Games consist of multiple winter sport events and are held every four years, also excepting 1940 and 1944. The first winter games were held in 1924. Varying sports have been added since, but cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping, and speed skating have been in every Olympics since 1924. Today's games also feature snowboarding and luge.

The Winter Games were initially held during the same year as the Summer Olympics — and before World War II, in the same country. While there still tend to be fewer countries participating than in the Summer Games, the Winter Olympics have grown in popularity, and the International Olympic Committee decided in 1986 to off-set the Winter Games from the Summer ones. In 1992, both Summer and Winter Olympics were held, but in different nations. The next Winter Olympics were held in 1994, and the next Summer Olympics in 1996. This means that Winter Olympics are now held in the same years as soccer World Cups.

    The Winter Games 
Unlike the Summer Olympics, which count the Olympiad whether the games occurred in them or not, the Roman numerals of the Winter Olympics count only the games.

  • I — 1924: Chamonix, France
    Duration: January 25 — February 5
    Participating Athletes: 258 from 16 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Paul Camille Mandrillonnote 
    Originally called the "International Winter Sports Week" (and a part of Paris 1924), these Games were successful enough that the IOC decided to make the Winter Olympics more or less regular.
  • II — 1928: Saint Moritz, Switzerland
    Duration: February 11-19
    Participating Athletes: 464 (438 men, 26 women) from 25 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Hans Eidenbenznote 
    The first true Winter Olympics. The Games were also notorious for fluctuating weather — a blizzard at the opening ceremony, followed by warm weather for the rest of the tournament.
  • III — 1932: Lake Placid, New York, USA
    Duration: February 4-15
    Participating Athletes: 252 (231 men, 21 women) from 17 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Jack Sheanote 
    The first Winter Games outside Europe, and the first time the host team beat perennial Winter Games board-leader Norway.
  • IV — 1936: Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
    Duration: February 6-16
    Participating Athletes: 646 (566 men, 80 women) from 28 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Willy Bogner, Sr.note 
    Not as Nazi-ridden as the summer version, held in Berlin later that year, but the Germans still manage to come behind Norway in the medals table. These Games featured the debut of alpine skiing, and featured Britain's upset of Canada in men's ice hockey (a sport traditionally associated with the latter).
  • 1940: Sapporo, Japan
    Supposed to be the first Winter Games in Asia, only for Japan to resign from hosting duties due to the Second Sino-Japanese War, and ultimately cancelled due to World War II. The same city would later be awarded the 1972 edition.
  • 1944: Cortina D'Ampezzo, Italy
    Also cancelled due to World War II. The same town would later be awarded the 1956 edition.
  • V — 1948: Saint Moritz, Switzerland
    Duration: January 30 — February 8
    Participating Athletes: 669 (592 men, 77 women) from 28 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Bibi Torrianinote 
    The first Winter Games held in a different country from that year's Summer Games (although Saint Moritz and London are geographically closer than Lake Placid and Los Angeles). These Games featured Barbara Ann Scott, the only Canadian woman to win gold in figure skating, as well as Dick Button, American figure skater and the first to successfully pull off a double axel en route to a gold, and Henri Oreiller, French alpine skier and first to win a downhill event by a wide margin (4 seconds). Like London 1948, Japan and Germany, losers of World War II, were not invited.
  • VI — 1952: Oslo, Norway
    Duration: February 14-25
    Participating Athletes: 694 (585 men, 109 women) from 30 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Torbjørn Falkangernote 
    Lighter of the Flame: Eigil Nansennote 
    As expected, Norway dominated these Games, among which is its most decorated athlete, trucker and speed skater Hjalmar Andersen, who won three of his four events. Emulating the summer versions, these Winter Games also introduced the passing of an Olympic flag from the mayor of the current host to that of the next host through the IOC president at the closing ceremonies (though recent Winter Games use replicas of the "Oslo flag"). These Games also featured the first Winter Olympic torch relay.
  • VII — 1956: Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
    Duration: January 26 — February 5
    Participating Athletes: 821 (687 men, 134 women) from 32 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Giuliana Minuzzonote 
    Lighter of the Flame: Guido Carolinote 
    Regaining hosting rights to the Games after the town lost the 1944 Games to World War II, these games were the first televised Winter Games, as well as the first to rely on corporate sponsorship. These Games marked the debut of Soviet winter athletes, who would tear through the medals table, particularly men's ice hockey, which they would dominate for the next three decades. Austrian alpine skier Toni Sailer also became the first athlete to sweep all three skiing events — downhill, slalom and giant slalom.
  • VIII — 1960: Squaw (now Olympic) Valley, California, USA
    Duration: February 18-28
    Participating Athletes: 665 (521 men, 144 women) from 30 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Carol Heissnote 
    Lighter of the Flame: Ken Henrynote 
    The "austerity games" of the Winter Olympics, bobsledding and luge were omitted as it was considered too expensive to build a track. The opening ceremonies was directed by Walt Disney himself. Predating the "Miracle on Ice" 20 years later, the American ice hockey team win their first ice hockey gold medal at the expense of Canada and the Soviet Union, breaking the latter's dominion over the sport for the first time in many years. Soviet speed skater Lidiya Skoblikova also debuted with two gold medals, making her the most successful athlete of the Games, together with compatriot Yevgeny Grishin, who also won two golds in 1956.
  • IX — 1964: Innsbruck, Austria
    Duration: January 29 — February 9
    Participating Athletes: 1,091 (892 men, 199 women) from 36 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Paul Astenote 
    Lighter of the Flame: Josef Riedernote 
    Due to a dry spell earlier that year, the Austrian Army had to literally carve out the ice from high up the Alps. These Games marked the first time East and West Germany marched as one, and featured Lidiya Skoblikova adding four more golds (on all her events) to her collection.
  • X — 1968: Grenoble, France
    Duration: February 6-18
    Participating Athletes: 1,158 (947 men, 211 women) from 37 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oath: Léo Lacroixnote 
    Lighter of the Flame: Alain Calmatnote 
    The edition that made the Winter Olympics a household word in American media, not the least because of extensive coverage from ABC and the popularity of such figures as French alpine skier Jean-Claude Killy, who won all three of his events, and figure skater Peggy Fleming, the only American gold medalist in these Games (who also heralded the renaissance of the sport in the USA following a plane crash seven years earlier that killed the entire US team en route to the World Championships in Prague). These Games were also the first time the IOC ordered drug and gender testing for athletes.
  • XI — 1972: Sapporo, Japan
    Duration: February 3-13
    Participating Athletes: 1,006 (801 men, 205 women) from 35 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Keiichi Suzukinote  [Athletes] / Fumio Asakinote  [Judges]
    Lighter of the Flame: Hideki Takada
    Like Cortina D'Ampezzo, Sapporo regained hosting rights after surrendering the 1940 edition due to the Sino-Japanese War (which was ultimately cancelled). These Games were the first in Asia, as well as the first time Japan had ever won gold in any Winter Games, with a podium sweep by Yukio Kasaya (gold), Akitsugu Konno (silver) and Seiji Aochi (bronze) on the 70m ski jump as their only medals.
  • XII — 1976: Innsbruck, Austria
    Duration: February 4-15
    Participating Athletes: 1,123 (892 men, 231 women) from 37 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Werner Delle Karthnote  [Athletes] / Willy Köstingernote  [Judges]
    Lighters of the Flame: Christl Haasnote  and Josef Feistmantlnote 
    The Games were originally awarded to Denver, Colorado, but locals voted down a bond issue to fund necessary construction, and the IOC turned initially to runner-up candidate (and eventual host-city come 2010) Vancouver, BC, which declined due to short notice, and then to the hosts of twelve years earlier. To this day, Denver remains the only city to decline hosting the Games. Given the financial effect of the Games being hosted in Montreal that same year, one could hardly blame them. The main highlight of these Games was the dramatic victory of Austrian alpine skier Franz Klammer over his Swiss rival Bernhard Russi.
  • XIII — 1980: Lake Placid, New York, USA
    Duration: February 14-23
    Participating Athletes: 1,072 (840 men, 232 women) from 37 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Eric Heidennote  [Athletes] / Terry McDermottnote  [Judges]
    Lighter of the Flame: Charles Gugino
    Famous for the "Miracle on Ice", in which the motley American ice hockey team defeated the heavily favored Soviet team (which had beaten them 10-3 two weeks prior), 4-3, en route to a gold medal finish against Finland. Other highlights include Swedish skier Ingemar Stenmark winning two gold medals on the slalom and giant slalom and American speed skater Eric Heiden winning all five events, making him the most successful Olympian in both these Games and perhaps in the history of the Winter Olympics.
  • XIV — 1984: Sarajevo, Yugoslavia (now Bosnia and Herzegovina)
    Duration: February 8-19
    Participating Athletes: 1,272 (998 men, 274 women) from 49 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Bojan Križajnote  (Athletes) / Dragan Perovićnote  (Judges)
    Lighter of the Flame: Sanda Dubravčićnote 
    British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean skated to Bolero and promptly earned the only perfect set of marks ever given to anyone in the sport, and featured the first black African winter Olympian in the form of Senegalese skier Lamine Guèye. These Games had a tragic postscript years later when Yugoslavia broke up violently, and images of tanks parked in the rink where Torvill and Dean danced became iconic images of the conflict.
  • XV — 1988: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
    Motto: "Can You Feel It?"
    Duration: February 13-28
    Participating Athletes: 1,423 (1,122 men, 301 women) from 57 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Pierre Harveynote  (Athletes) / Suzanne Morrownote  (Judges)
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Cathy Priestnernote  and Ken Readnote  (with cameo by Rick Hansennote ) / Robyn Perrynote 
    Canadian figure skater Elizabeth Manley is best remembered for her silver-winning performance in the long program. Also famous for Jamaica participating in the bobsled, where it was seen as unusual for a tropical country to be competing in a winter sport (the theory was that having sprinters on the team would get the sled off to a fast start, providing a competitive edge down the rest of the track). The highlights of the Games, though, were the triple-gold performances of Finnish ski jumper Matti Nykänen and Dutch speed-skater Yvonne van Gennip, as well as two from Italian alpine skier Alberto Tomba, en route to becoming the first in his sport to win medals on three consecutive Winter Games, and one from American speed skater Bonnie Blair. While Canada remained without (official) gold on its home Games (other than two on demonstration sports, including that by short-track speed-skater Sylvie Daigle), surplus revenue from viewers and sponsors, which more than compensated for these Games being the costliest to run (at C$829 million) at the time, helped turn Calgary into Canada's premier winter sports center — and helped break its dry spell come Vancouver 2010. These are the last Winter Olympics - and Olympics, period - to be telecast in the United States by ABC. CBS - in partnership with Turner Sports - would televise the next three Winter Games.
  • XVI — 1992: Albertville, France
    Motto: "At the Peak of Performance"
    Duration: February 8-23
    Participating Athletes: 1,801 (1,313 men, 488 women) from 64 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Surya Bonalynote  [Athletes] / Pierre Bornatnote 
    Lighters of the Flame: Michel Platininote  and François-Cyrille Grangenote 
    Last Winter Games held at the same year as the Summer Games. Most of the venues for these Games, including the ceremonies stadium, were temporary. The Games featured the Norwegians' domination of male cross-country skiing events, Alberto Tomba's second giant slalom gold, Bonnie Blair's two-gold-medal performance, and breakthrough medal finishes of the USA's Kristi Yamaguchi (gold), Japan's Midori Ito (silver), and New Zealand's Annelise Coberger (silver). Yamaguchi and Ito became the first figure skaters of Asian descent to win medals, while alpine skier Coberger became the first medalist from the Southern Hemisphere. The ceremonies were choreographed by Philip Decouffle and were very similar to that of Cirque du Soleil, with acrobats performing on a very tall central mast along with many other dazzling feats.
  • XVII — 1994: Lillehammer, Norway
    Duration: February 12-27
    Participating Athletes: 1,737 (1,215 men, 522 women) from 67 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Vegard Ulvangnote  [Athletes] / Kari Kåringnote  [Judges]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Reidar Liaklevnote  / Brit Pettersen Tofte note  / Stein Grubennote  / Catherine Nottingnesnote  / Haakon, Crown Prince of Norwaynote 
    First Winter Games held in a different year from the Summer Games. Widely considered the best Winter Games, featuring an opening ceremony on a ski jump venue, whose climax was skier Stein Gruben going downhill with the Torch before the Cauldron was lit by Crown Prince Haakon, whose father, King Harald V, and grandfather, Olav V, were themselves Olympians. The Games featured the domination of women's cross-country events by Italy's Manuela Di Centa and Russia's Lyubov Yegorova, with 5 and 4 medals, respectively, a heartstopping victory of Italy over Norway in the men's 4×10km cross-country event by just 0.4 second, and American speed skater Dan Jansen, long considered a favorite but beleaguered by failure ever since 1988, when he had to compete even as he was mourning his older sister Jane, who died of leukemia hours before his first event, finally winning the 1000m event. A tabloid-friendly scandal involving rival American figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding provided fodder for comedians and sketch comedy shows for months; Harding never lived it down. A Norwegian-English mockumentary can be seen here, even though it has a "For all ages" rating in Norway is it NSFW.
  • XVIII — 1998: Nagano, Japan
    Motto: "Coexistence with Nature"
    Duration: February 7-22
    Participating Athletes: 2,176 (1,389 men, 787 women) from 72 NOCsnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Kenji Ogiwaranote  [Athletes] / Junko Hiramatsunote  [Judges]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Chris Moonnote , accompanied by children representing the participating nations / Masako Chibanote  / Reiichi Mikata, Takanori Kono and Kenji Ogiwaranote  / Hiromi Suzukinote  / Midori Itonote 
    The first Winter Games featuring women's ice hockey, curling and snowboarding. It was also the first time NHL players were allowed to play in men's ice hockey. The bobsled track used for these games was notable for having a portion that sloped uphill. The Games featured 15-year-old American figure skater Tara Lipinski beating compatriot Michelle Kwan to become the youngest individual champion in the history of the Winter Olympics and Austrian skier Hermann Maier, who survived a hard fall days before the Games, winning the Super-G and giant slalom events. These are, to date, the last Winter Olympics - as well as Olympics, period - to be televised in the United States by a network other than NBC (in this case, CBS, in partnership with Turner Sports).
  • XIX — 2002: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
    Motto: "Light the Fire Within"
    Duration: February 8-24
    Participating Athletes: 2,399 (1,513 men, 886 women) from 78 NOCsnote 
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: John Glennnote  (Americas), Desmond Tutunote  (Africa), Kazuyoshi Funakinote  (Asia), Lech Walesanote  (Europe), Cathy Freeman (Oceania), Jean-Claude Killynote  (Sport), Steven Spielberg (Culture) and Jean-Michel Cousteaunote  (Environment)
    Olympic Oaths: Jimmy Sheanote  [Athletes] / Allen Churchnote 
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighters of the Flame: Dick Buttonnote  and Dorothy Hamillnote  (Outside) / Peggy Flemingnote  and Scott Hamiltonnote  / Phil Mahrenote  and Bill Johnsonnote  / Bonnie Blairnote  and Dan Jansennote  / Jimmy Shea and his father Jim Sr., in honor of Jack Shea, who died days earlier / Picabo Streetnote  and Cammi Granatonote  / The gold-winning 1980 US Olympic ice hockey team, led by team captain Mike Eruzione
    Notable for a bribery controversy, the disclosure of which forced several IOC members to resign; the same scandal led to the appointment of a certain Boston-based financier named Mitt Romney to head the Organizing Committee, which he leveraged into his run for Governor of Massachusetts and later the Presidency. The scores of a figure-skating judge were also thrown out, resulting in two couples being awarded gold medals for pairs skating. And American short track speed skater Apolo Ohno's first gold was awarded after South Korea's Kim Dong-sung was disqualified, resulting in over 16,000 threatening emails to the IOC's website, which shut the site down for almost nine hours (it also didn't help that Ohno is half-Japanese). Nevertheless, from a financial and sporting perspective, these Games were one of the most successful. These Games featured Canada's first men's ice hockey gold since 1952, Norwegian biathlete Ole Einar Bjørndalen winning all four men's events, and short track speed skating providing the first gold medals for China, courtesy of Yang Yang (A) in women's competitions, and Australia (and, for that matter, the entire southern hemisphere), courtesy of Steven Bradbury's unlikely come-from-dead-last finish after everybody else crashed out on the final turn Also noteworthy for being the first games (outside of St. Moritz) to feature Skeleton, a sliding sport described as being "Like luge, but face-down and head-first". Also the first ever Olympics to feature Skeleton competing on the same track as bobsled and luge (St. Moritz had a separate skeleton track) US Men's Skeleton athlete Jimmy Shea took gold, being America's first ever third-generation Olympian.
  • XX — 2006: Turin, Italynote 
    Motto: "Passion Lives Here"
    Duration: February 10-26
    Participating Athletes: 2,508 (1,548 men, 960 women) from 80 NOCsnote 
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: Sophia Lorennote , Isabel Allendenote , Nawal el Moutawakelnote , Susan Sarandonnote , Wangari Maathainote , Manuela Di Centanote  and Somaly Mamnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Giorgio Roccanote  [Athletes] / Fabio Bianchettinote  [Judges]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighter of the Flame: Alberto Tombanote  / Marco Albarello, Giorgio Vanzetta, Maurilio De Zolt and Silvio Faunernote  / Piero Grosnote  / Deborah Compagnoninote  / Stefania Belmondonote 
    The Games featured Russian figure skater Evgeni Plushenko setting a world record for the largest margin of victory in his event (10 points), Apollo Ohno winning his second short track speed skating event (and this time without much controversy), and Italian cross-country skier Giorgio Di Centa, younger brother of Manuela, winning both the 4×10km and 50km events (the latter which held its medals ceremony at the closing ceremony, in the presence of his sister). This also marks the last public performance of legendary Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti, who performed "Nessun Dorma" at the end of the opening ceremony, less than a year before he died of pancreatic cancer.
  • XXI — 2010: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    Motto: "With Glowing Hearts"
    Duration: February 12-28
    Participating Athletes: 2,566 (1,522 men, 1,044 women) from 82 NOCsnote 
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: Betty Foxnote , Donald Sutherlandnote , Jacques Villeneuvenote , Barbara Ann Scottnote , Anne Murraynote , Roméo Dallairenote , Bobby Orrnote  and Julie Payettenote 
    Olympic Oaths: Hayley Wickenheisernote  [Athletes] / Michel Verraultnote  [Judges]
    Carrier of the Torch and Lighters of the Flame: Rick Hansen / Catriona LeMay Doannote , Steve Nashnote , Nancy Greenenote  and Wayne Gretzkynote 
    The Winter Games that ended Canada's dry spell when it comes to gold medals on Games it hosts, starting with Alexandre Bilodeau in men's moguls, followed by thirteen others, culminating in a heart-stopping overtime victory of the Canadian men's ice hockey team over the USA. This broke the record for most golds at a single games, which had been previously shared by Norway and the Soviet Union. Also the first Games to present the Olympic and Paralympic mascots together as a single group instead of having separate, unrelated mascots. Other notable events include USA winning its first bobsled gold since 1948, American skier Lindsey Vonn shrugging off injury to win gold at the women's downhill, and another American, Evan Lyscaek, pipping out Plushenko for the men's figure skating gold.
  • XXII — 2014: Sochi, Russia
    Motto: "Hot. Cool. Yours."
    Duration: February 7-23
    Participating Athletes: 2,873 from 88 NOCsnote 
    Bearers of the Olympic Flag: Chulpan Kamapovanote , Lidiya Skoblikovanote , Anastasia Popovanote , Valentina Tereshkovanote , Viacheslav Fetisovnote , Valery Gergievnote , Alan Enileevnote  and Nikita Mikhalkovnote 
    Olympic Oaths: Ruslan Zakharovnote  [Athletes] / Vyacheslav Vedeninnote  [Judges] / Anastasia Popkova [Coaches]
    Carriers of the Torch and Lighters of the Flame: Maria Sharapovanote  / Yelena Isinbayevanote  / Aleksandr Karelinnote  / Alina Kabaevanote  / Irina Rodninanote  and Vladislav Tretiaknote 
    An unusual choice for Winter Olympic host city, being both a winter and summer resort town. Also the first Games under current IOC president, 1976 fencing gold medalist Thomas Bach. While the runoff was fraught with controversy, due to allegations of corruption, outrage over anti-gay laws, and a staggering $51B cost (far surpassing Beijing 2008's $44B, which, as a summer edition, had more events and, all things said, is not terribly over-expensive), the main event itself went without a hitch. The Games featured a near-total domination of speed skating events by the Dutch, Canada becoming the first back-to-back men's ice hockey champion since the Soviet Union, childhood friends Meryl Davis and Charlie White winning the USA's first ice dancing gold, and Ole Einar Bjørndalen winning the 10km sprint and mixed relay, becoming the most decorated Winter Olympian ever with 8 golds, 4 silvers and 1 bronze.
  • XXIII — 2018: Pyeongchang County, South Koreanote 
    Motto: "Passion. Connected."
    Duration: February 9-25
    The first Winter Olympics in Asia outside Japan. Also counts as a "Throw the Dog a Bone" moment for the South Korean ski resort after coming up short at the 2010 and 2014 bids.
  • XXIV — 2022: Beijing, China
    Motto: "A Passion for Ice and Snow"
    Duration: February 4-20
    Beijing becomes the very first Olympic city to host both summer and winter editions (at least, on ice events, with Yanqing County suburb and the winter resort city of Zhangjiakou in Hebei province to host snow events), after a two-horse race with Almaty, Kazakhstan. Already nicknamed "the Olympics nobody wants" because every candidate city in a democracy withdrew after voters demanded, and got, a referendum (Oslo, Norway made it the farthest) leaving only the two above.

The Paralympic Games

"Mind, Body, Spirit" / "Spirit In Motion"

Like the Olympics, but for athletes with disabilities. Held after the Olympics, in the same venues. It is not, however, organized by the IOC but by the International Paralympic committee, founded 1989, and has its own logo - three arcs rather than five rings. The name means that they run parallel to the Olympic Games, not that it's for the paralysed. Do not confuse them with the Special Olympics, which is a competition for mentally handicapped athletes that's styled after the Olympics but unaffiliated. Also does not include either parachuting or paragliding which are events in the World Games, which tries to be like the Olympics for non-Olympic sports. Most of the sports are about the same as the Olympics but there are a few that are exclusive to the Paralympics, such as boccia, wheelchair rugby, and goalball. Now has its own page!

Presidents of the International Olympic Committee

  • Demetrius Vikelas (1835-1908; presided 1894-1896), Greek businessman appointed by De Coubertin to preside over the revival of the Games.
  • Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937; presided 1896-1925), French teacher and founder of the modern Olympic Games.
  • Godefroy de Blonay (1869-1937; presided 1916-1919), Swiss nobleman who presided over the IOC in lieu of De Coubertin, who was away on conscription during World War I.
  • Henri de Baillet-Latour (1876-1942; presided 1925-1942), Belgian aristocrat.
  • Sigfrid Edström (1870-1964; presided 1942-1952), Swedish industrialist who helped the IOC weather through World War II, which saw the 1940 and 1944 Games cancelled.
  • Avery Brundage (1887-1975; presided 1952-1972), American engineer and the only non-European to become IOC president, known for his advocacy of amateurism. And much more controversially, for his overt racism.
  • Michael Morris, 3rd Baron Killanin (1914-1999; presided 1972-1980), British journalist and nobleman.
  • Juan Antonio Samaranch (1920-2010; presided 1980-2001), Spanish businessman under whose administration the Games saw increased commercial funding.
  • Jacques Rogge (b. 1942; presided 2001-2013), Belgian opthalmologist and former Olympic rower from 1968 to 1976, becoming the first actual Olympian to hold the post. His administration featured stricter anti-doping regulations and increased closeness to the athletes.
  • Thomas Bach (b. 1953; presided 2013-present), German lawyer, former Olympic fencer and member of the gold-winning 1976 men's foil team, and head of the German Olympic Committee until his election to this post, making him the first Olympic medalist (and a gold medalist) to hold this position.

In fiction

  • Million Dollar Legs, a largely forgotten W.C. Fields classic, is all about getting Ruritanian citizens to participate in the 1932 Olympics.
  • 1962's It Happened in Athens is a completely fictional (but filmed entirely in Greece) depiction of Spyridon Louis' 1896 victory, complete with Jayne Mansfield offering herself in marriage to whomever wins, and an adorable Canine Companion.
  • Chariots of Fire (technically not fiction, but they did take a few liberties ...)
  • Rainbow Six involves a plot to start a global plague via the air conditioning at the Sydney opening ceremony. Clancy failed to realise the games actually took place in the late winter/early spring of Australia.
  • Miranda Frost in Die Another Day won a gold medal at Sydney by default when her opponent died of a steroids overdose arranged by Gustav Graves.
  • The Doctor Who episode "Fear Her" is set around the (then-future) 2012 Opening Ceremonies. (In real life, David Tennant was not involved, but a different doctor did carry the torch for a leg.)
  • Cool Runnings: A highly fictionalized account of the first Jamaican bobsled team.
  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
  • Astérix at the Olympic Games
  • Going For The Gold by Emma Lathen is set at the Lake Placid Winter Olympics.
  • Pierre et Isa, a French animated series about Winter Olympics.
  • Laff-A-Lympics, a '70s Saturday Morning Cartoon show pitting three teams of Hanna-Barbera characters in mock-Olympic events.
  • Animalympics a 1980 animation originally broadcast it's Winter Games segment on NBC TV, but the summer edition was canceled after the boycott. Latter reorganized into a film, but the summer half still suffered from the lack of completed animation.
  • A Young Justice storyline was set at the "Sydney World Games". The story involved the former Arrowette entering the archery competition, and Zandia (an island nation whose population consists entirely of supervillains taking advantage of its lack of extradition laws) entering, so Cassie was competing against Merlyn and Artemis.
  • An episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys has him invent the Greek Olympics, with the usual Anachronism Stew including a modern Olympic torch.
  • The 1966 comedy film Walk, Don't Run is set at the '64 Tokyo Games and features Cary Grant in his last film role.
  • A sixth-season Mash episode has the 4077th staff celebrating the '52 Helsinki Games (and getting in shape) by holding their own "Olympics" competition.
  • Steven Spielberg's Munich depicts the Munich 1972 massacre and the retaliation by the Israeli secret services.
  • QWOP has you playing as an athlete for a small nation striving to compete in the Olympics. "Ideally you will run 100 metres...but our training program was under-funded." By "under-funded", the game means that the titular athlete struggles with basic walking.
  • The Simpsons had an episode where Springfield made a bid to host the Games. Years later a sign gag read "SPRINGFIELD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: Built For the Olympics We Didn't Get".
  • The Rivers of London short story "Home Crowd Advantage" is set during London 2012, with an extended flashback to London 1948.

Also see Pseudolympics for when works make references to silly Olympic-like events.

The Olympics provide examples of:

  • Accidental Athlete: In 1900, the Dutch rowers brought a French boy to replace their too-heavy coxswain. They won the gold medal, but to this day no one knows who the kid was.
  • Action Prologue: In a way - the football tournaments always have games played before the opening ceremony to fit the schedule.
  • Always Male: Gradually being averted as women's sports are being added, including boxing in 2012 and ski jumping (finally) in 2014. Greco-Roman wrestling is one of the events still for men only. In addition, the IOC later announced that it will suspend nations that forbid women from participating.
    • Also some more conservative Muslim countries. Notably in 2012, Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar broke their streak and fielded women for the first time, contributing to every delegation having both male and female athletes.
    • Politics aside, the gymnastics division has several events exclusive to one sex. For men, these are the horizontal bar, parallel bars, pommel horse, and still rings, which all focus on upper-body strength. Also, baseball.
  • Always Female: The women-only gymnastic events alluded to above are the balance beam, uneven bars, and rhythmic gymnastics. Also, synchronized swimming and softball.
  • The Atoner: Cian O'Connor, an Irish showjumper who won the gold in 2004, but had his medal stripped after his horse failed a dope test, returned in 2012 to take the bronze on a different horse.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The closing ceremonies at Sochi in 2014 ended with the return of Mischa the Bear from the 1980 Moscow Games, accompanied by Hare and Snow Leopard.
    • The London 2012 opening ceremonies featured a "nightmare sequence" with a group of children being attacked by 50-foot tall literature villains like Voldemort and Captain Hook.
    • While it didn't attack, Vancouver 2010's opening ceremony featured a huge bear made of lights, and it seems that every summer Olympics opening ceremony since Barcelona featured giant puppets.
    • Atlanta 1996's opening had a giant Thunderbird that represented The American Civil War and the destruction wrought thereby, especially noteworthy since Atlanta, to this day, remains the only American city ever to be completely destroyed by war (General Sherman ordered it burned to the ground during the American Civil War)
    • The conclusion for the opening ceremonies at Lillehammer in '94 featured a gigantic egg which became an Earth globe and hatched a glittering dove, as thousands of silver dove-shaped balloons were released.
    • Munich '72 had 'The Flying Rainbow' (or 'The Olympic Rainbow') at the closing ceremonies. This was a piece of installation art created by Otto Piene. It had five helium-filled polythene tubes in the Olympic colors, each one 600 meters (almost two thousand feet) long. Piene has installed different versions of these lovely things all over the world.
    • You can pretty much count on this to happen in most every opening ceremony.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: You could argue that much of the architecture created to host Olympic events falls into this category, as there are few sporting events other than the Olympics that draw enough spectators to merit such enormous stadia; many Olympic facilities lay neglected or falling into ruin all over the world. The Beijing stadium hasn't had any real tenants since the Olympics, although it has hosted several recent Supercoppa Italiana games (a pre-season soccer game between the champions of Italy's Serie A league and Coppa Italia tournament), will be hosting the 2015 World Championships in Athletics, and will also be the anchor for new retail and entertainment facilities, and was even used as a winter amusement park!.
    • Averted by the American cities, which either used preexisting facilities or had the infrastructure and sports franchises to make use of the new stadiums after the Olympics. For instance, in Atlanta, the Olympic Village became Georgia Tech dormitories, and the Olympic Stadium was designed from the get-go to be rebuilt into Turner Field for baseball's Atlanta Braves.
    • Also averted by the 1972 Munich stadium, still standing in all its absurd balletlike grace.
    • London is determined to avert this fate, with the main stadium designed in such a way that it can easily be converted into a more practical 25,000 capacity stadium once the games are over, but only time will tell how successful their approach will be.
      • However, London's plans for the Olympic Stadium changed. The stadium will still be downsized, but only to 60,000. West Ham United, currently of the Premier League, will take over the stadium. Since the track will remain in place, the stadium will also host the 2017 World Championships in Athletics.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: The medal ceremony is always excellent.
    • The Men's Marathon medal ceremony is given pride of place during the closing ceremonies.
  • Badass Grandpa: Swedish shooter Oscar Swahn, who won his first Olympic gold medal at the age of 60. He competed at three Olympics (1908, 1912 and 1920) and won his last medal (a silver) when he was 72 years old. Swahn still holds the record as the oldest Olympic gold medallist (64 years old) and the oldest Olympic medallist of all time.
  • Be Careful What You Say: Especially on Twitter. Early in the 2012 Games, three athletes were singled out for controversial and/or racist tweets. Two of those athletes were summarily expelled from the Games.
  • Best X Ever: Former President Juan Antonio Samaranch had a tradition of saying "This was the best Olympics ever!" at the end of each closing ceremony (with the exception of the Atlanta 1996 games, which, as mentioned above, were marred by security and other organisation problems).
  • Big Applesauce: As seen above, New York City has never hosted the Olympics though virtually every other city of its stature has. Rumor has it that New York was all but guaranteed the 2012 Games if they approved funding for the West Side Stadium, but when that fell through - so did the bid.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: From Cracked, Five Creepy Things London Did to Prepare for the Olympics. In their defense they did get bombed by terrorists the day after they won the games and no one wants a repeat of Munich or the Atlanta bombing.
    • Russia has made no attempts to hide the fact that they are monitoring everything in 2014.
  • Blessed with Suck: The Olympic host city must often construct multiple venues for sports which may not be all that popular in their nation, often at enormous expense. After the Sochi games topped $50 Billion, support for the 2022 Winter Olympics bids eroded and multiple European cities withdrew entirely.
  • Book Ends: The Parade of Nations at the ceremony always starts with Greece, creators of the Olympics, and ends with the host country. In 2004, this presented a quandary. You can't have a team march twice, so they had the Greek flag enter first, and the Greek athletes enter last.
  • Broke the Rating Scale: Nadia Comăneci scored the first 10.0 in gymnastics history. The electronic scoreboard didn't even have that — you would've thought the poor girl kept scoring 1.0's. (To hammer this point home, no one had ever hit the elusive "perfect ten" in competition, ever. Out of eight routines, seven of Nadia's were scored as perfect tens. By the time she was through, the sport of gymnastics had been forever changed.)
  • Brooklyn Rage: Native New Yorker Teddy Atlas is NBC's primary color commentator for boxing. In the 2012 games, he repeatedly blasted the judges for "ridiculous" decisions that were turning the sport into a "joke." Indeed, the apex of this came in the fight between Azerbaijan's Abdulhamidov and Japan's Shimuzu, where the former was knocked six times in the final round without ever receiving a standing count.note  Teddy was so infuriated when Abdulhamidov won that he continued railing on the judges all throughout the subsequent fights, to the point where Atlas and his partner were asked to leave the ringside because they were disturbing the judges.
  • Call Back
    • At the opening ceremony of Vancouver 2010, only three of the four "arms" of the indoor Olympic Cauldron rose from the floor of the BC Place Stadium, leaving Catriona LeMay Doan unable to light her portion. The closing ceremony mocks the malfunction by having a mime "manually lift" the missing arm, before "summoning" LeMay Doan, allowing her to finally light her arm of the indoor Cauldron.
    • One infamous malfunction involves four of the five Olympic Rings emerging from five snowflakes during the opening ceremony of Sochi 2014. This became a running gag with the hashtag #ringfail on Twitter. Come the closing ceremony, a human formation parodied the same malfunction, but this time with the performers representing the missing Ring finally "fixing" the error.
    • Also from Sochi 2014's closing ceremony, the animatronic Polar Bear sheds a Single Tear after "blowing" out the Olympic Flame, reminiscent of an image of a tearful Misha during the closing ceremony of Moscow 1980, moments before a balloon rendition of it was flown away.
  • City of Adventure: Most of the events are reduced to a single town and\or its metropolitan area. Although often the host is inland or not close to the mountains, forcing trips for the sea and skiing events. The football tournaments also take place in various cities (the 1996 one wasn't anywhere near Atlanta, at most in Athens).
  • Canon Discontinuity: The games displayed art competitions complete with medals from 1912 to 1948. (The ancient Games had these, plus choral song competitions.) Today, the IOC considers them unofficial.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The rollout of "Sharkskin" swimsuits in the 2000 games was hugely controversial — they used technology which dramatically reduced water resistance and several world records were shattered. They were also prohibitively expensive for small nations. In the 2008 Olympics, they were rendered absolutely obsolete by swimsuits featuring polyurethane panels, which caused pretty much every record to be completely shattered. As of 2012's Olympics, all non-porous suits (the polyurethane ones) were banned, and it was easy to tell, as far fewer than usual records were broken.
  • Cold War: It's widely stated that the Olympics were a suitable replacement for the lack of actual battles between the capitalist West and the communist East. Bonus for boycotts in the Moscow and Los Angeles Games. Even now, 20 years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, judges' scoring can still reflect Cold War loyalties.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: When the athletes don't wear the national colors (see Wearing a Flag on Your Head), they will use different ones — red and blue for boxing and wrestling, white and blue for judo. Subverted in fencing, where both wear white (but the piste lights up green or red when a fencer makes contact).
  • Conspicuous CG: The Beijing opening ceremonies featured mostly computer-generated fireworks, since there were helicopters hovering above.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The Athens 2004 Summer Games:
      • The Marathon event followed the same route as the 1896 event (starting at the event's namesake city, in reference to its legendary origin).
      • The Shot Put was held at the original Stadium at Olympia. At first it was planned to do the Discus, but the old stadium proved to be too small to safely host the event.
    • The 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles held the opening and closing ceremonies and track events in the same stadium as the 1932 Olympics.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive / Executive Meddling: The IOC frequently finds itself at the center of scandals. For example, during the 2000s the IOC had repeatedly barred women from competing in ski jumping, for reasons that seem more and more ridiculous the closer they are examined. (This fact is used as a key plotline in the manga Nononono, for instance.) It was eventually reversed and womens' ski jumping debuted in the Sochi 2014 games.
  • Crack Defeat: The 1988 games provided a former Trope Namer from boxing: Roy Jones, Jr. was controversially beaten by Si-Hun Park by decision in a gold medal bout that saw Jones dominate his South Korean opponent.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Many, though the 1992 "Dream Team" US Men's basketball team has to stand out for crushing all its opponents by more than 30 points.
    • At the 2012 Olympics just prior to the Mens 100m final one happened in the stands when a drunk spectator threw a bottle at the competitors. Said spectator just so happened to be sitting beside a Dutch Olympian called Edith Bosch who had won bronze for her nation in the 70kg Judo, her twitter feed later stated "A drunken spectator threw a bottle onto the track! I HAVE BEATEN HIM .... unbelieveable". While Lord Sebastian Coe, member of the House of Lords in British Parliament, President of the London Organizing Committee of Olympic Games, himself a veteran Olympic gold medalist (1500 meters in Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984), said "I think the expression is Ippon."
    • The Fierce Five didn't just win the women's team gold medal in artistic gymnastics — they crushed everybody in their path. Aly Raisman, the final performer on the final event for the team, needed little more than a 10 (a very low score under the modern system) to bring home the gold. She scored a 15.300.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Plenty to choose from, but the 1992 Olympics provided the former Trope Namer in Robert Zmelik of Czechoslovakia, who won the decathlon...after American audiences had been treated to an ad campaign hyping "Dan (O'Brien, who eventually didn't qualify) vs. Dave (Johnson, who took the bronze)."
  • Dark Secret: From Cracked: 5 Things They Don't Want You to Know About the Olympics. In reverse order: the Olympic Village is one big orgy, the host city becomes a police state, hosting will bankrupt you, but not before you have to pay a huge bribe to host, and tons of people are displaced in order to build venues and look good for the cameras.
    • Also, when Grindr crashed as soon as the delegations arrived. Some say it was just because Grindr tends to crash every now and then, or that it was because of the crowd that came in, but one can’t help but wonder...
  • Determinator/Refuge in Audacity:
    • With just one foot.
    • There's an American in Afghanistan who wants to build up a water polo team in time for the 2016 games. More here. There's also a women's boxing team preparing for 2012, but there's no problem because they can wear head coverings in the ring.
    • The Jamaican Bobsled Team.
    • The Japanese wanting Hiroshima and Nagasaki as co-host cities, even though it's not allowed. They've reduced it to just Nagasaki.
      • However, Hiroshima did host the 1994 Asian Games.
    • The Swiss runner Gabriela Andersen-Scheiss nearly collapsed in the 1984 marathon, but finished the race refusing help.
    • American runner Lopez Lomong, who was abducted as a young child in Sudan and forced to become a Child Soldier. After seeing dozens of other children die in the training camp, Lopez and some of his friends escaped under the cover of darkness, running almost nonstop for 3 days and nights until they crossed the Kenyan border. His Olympic ability to run literally saved his life.
    • Japanese gymnast Shun Fujimoto: he competed in the 1976 Olympics and helped his team winning the gold, with a broken knee. He injured himself during a floor exercise and fearing that the team would not win if he withdrew, hid his injury and competed his final two events of the day. On rings, Fujimoto scored a 9.7, after landing his full-twisting double back dismount onto a broken kneecap...
    • Tanzanian athlete John Stephen Akhwari fell and dislocated his knee while running the marathon at the 1968 Olympics. After receiving medical attention, Akhwari decided to finish the race, limping into the Olympic stadium long after the other competitors had finished. When asked why he had decided to continue running, Akhwari replied: "My country did not send me 10,000 miles just to start the race; they sent me to finish the race."
    • American runner Manteo Mitchell broke his leg halfway through running the first leg of the 4x400m relay semi-final at the 2012 games. Not only did he keep running and finish his leg, he helped his team qualify for the final with the fastest time.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: One Boris Onishchenko, a Ukranian fencer who played for the Soviet Union's modern pentathlon team during the 1976 games, was found to be using an epee that had been tampered with and was disqualified from the fencing event for cheating. The epee was jury-rigged with a remote control device hidden in the hilt. At the press of a button, it would record a hit and electronically transmit it to the scoreboard, even when no hit was genuinely scored. The rigged epee was confiscated by the referee and judges for examination, while Boris went on to win eight of his nine matches without it using an ordinary epee — thus proving he didn't even need to cheat.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: The IOC is very protective of their trademarks. Word is they even targeted the game Legend of the Five Rings because of superficial similarities to the five Olympic Rings.
  • Disturbed Doves: Part of the tradition during opening ceremonies is the release of doves symbolizing peace. Usually this happens after the Flame is lit. Unfortunately, during Seoul 1988 they were released immediately between the singing of the Olympic Hymn and the arrival of the Torch, at which point some perched on the cauldron and ended up being burnt as it was ignited. In reaction to animal rights groups' negative feedback, subsequent Games would only use replicas (albeit the last time live doves were used was in Barcelona 1992).
    • At the 1972 Munich opening ceremonies, the doves were released in the proper sequence. However, one of them hit the stadium's glass roof and fell dead at the feet of the horrified Brazilian team.
    Lillehammer 1994: Balloon doves, with a larger one emerging from an egg.
    Atlanta 1996: 100 paper dove-shaped kites flown by children across the track.
    Nagano 1998: Balloon doves released after the lighting of the Flame and the oaths.
    Sydney 2000: A projection of a large dove on a large piece of cloth draped over the athletes as pre-makeover Vanessa Amorosi performs "Heroes Live Forever".
    Salt Lake 2002: Dove-shaped cloth kites flown by ice skaters at the end of Sting's performance of 'Fragile' with cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
    Athens 2004: Images of doves in flight on three LCD rings which previously displayed names of the stopovers of the Olympic Flame.
    Torino 2006: A human formation in the shape of a dove, created by 28 acrobats dangling onto a net.
    Beijing 2008: A fireworks array at the top of the stadium, representing a dove in flight, following a dance production featuring women emulating the flight of doves with their hands.
    Vancouver 2010: A projection of doves in flight at the floor of the BC Place Stadium, followed by a projection on four pieces of cloth hanging from the top of the stadium, as KD Lang performs a cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah".
    London 2012: 75 cyclists wearing wings and helmets shaped like doves' heads circling the stadium, both as a nod to the modern bicycle being a Scottish invention, and to honor Bradley Wiggins, the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France only five days before the opening ceremony, to a cover version of The Beatles' "Come Together" by Arctic Monkeys.
    Sochi 2014: Ballerinas spinning with white LED strings emulating doves in flight, to the tune of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake Suite".
  • Downer Ending: The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany were suspended after the "Munich Massacre", during which eleven Israeli Olympic team members and a German police officer were taken hostage and eventually killed by a terrorist group.
  • Due to the Dead: Typically averted. The IOC generally frowns upon any statement for the dead (such as the Norwegian cross-country skiers wishing to wear armbands for Astrid Jacobsen who died shortly before Sochi, or stickers for Sarah Burke, who pushed for getting the skiing superpipe event for Sochi but died back in 2012) because they might be taken as a political statement, though they provide exceptions for memorials related to the Games themselves (such as London 2012's "Abide With Me" production, in tribute to those who died in the July 7, 2005 bombings — a day after London won its hosting bid; an 11-gun salute at Munich's 1972 closing ceremonies to honor the Israeli athletes who died in the terrorist attack, and again in 2012 for the fortieth anniversary; and Vancouver 2010's opening ceremony being dedicated to Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili, who died in a training accident hours before the ceremonies).
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first games were a fairly low-key event.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: Besides the host city being expected to build at least one new stadium, TV coverage will include sweeping helicopter shots of their existing trademark structure.
    • During the 2000 closing ceremonies, it didn't escape comment that there were athletes in that year's Games born before Sydney's Opera House was completed and opened (1974) while Athens' Parthenon was already a centuries-old ruin during the time of Christ.
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out: A few teams and athletes have every title except the Olympic Gold (most notably the Brazilian football and the Italian volleyball).
    • Brazil's soccer performance in London is especially notable because everyone was treating it as a foregone conclusion; Brazil are hosting both the next World Cup and Olympic Games, they pretty much coasted to the final and everyone, Brazil foremost amongst them, just assumed that the final would basically amount to a Brazilian masterclass in football. This sense of smug superiority lasted about 40 seconds, the time it took Mexico to score the first of 2 goals that would go unanswered by Brazil. In the end everyone felt the Mexicans were the better team on the day.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Ice skating, gymnastics (at least the women's), synchronized swimming, opening and closing ceremonies.
  • Exposed to the Elements: A few sports (track and field, beach volleyball) in the Summer Olympics have athletes in clothes that don't help in case of extreme heat, rain or wind — in fact, a world record in athletics can be annuled (though the result is still valid) if the wind is too strong it basically helps. It's averted in the Winter Olympics aside from the opening and closing ceremonies.
  • Fanservice: It's basically 2 weeks of people in peak physical condition (well except that one Judoka from Guam) getting hot and sweaty so what's not to like, especially for Amazon Chasers.
  • Gaiden Game: The 1906 Games.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: When rival countries are on bad terms with one another, matches between the two fall under this. US vs. Soviets is the classic example.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the infamous "Blood in the Water" match, a 1956 water polo match between Hungary and the USSR held against the backdrop of the Soviet invasion of Hungary in that year.
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: Bronze instead of copper, but the same idea for the medals.
  • Graceful Loser: So common it's the aversions that everyone remembers (see Sore Loser below for those cases).
  • Grand Finale: The last event before the closing ceremony is the man's marathon, which always ends at the Olympic Stadium.
  • Groin Attack: "Loinsanity! There is an epidemic of groin-punching in Olympic Men's Basketball."
  • Handicapped Badass: Aside from competitors in the Paralympics, there are also some examples from the Olympic Games, e.g. legally blind Im Dong-hyun's record-breaking archery score.note 
    • South African runner Oscar "The Blade Runner" Pistorius became the first double-amputee Olympic athlete in 2012. His attempt to get into the Beijing Olympics were thwarted by the idea that his blade-like running legs gave him an advantage (they don't since they're not robotic according to a prosthetic scientist (who does have robotic legs) featured in Oscar's 60 Minutes profile).
    • Hungarian shooter Károly Takács — after his shooting hand (his right) was mangled in a grenade accident during army training, Takács secretly learned how to shoot with his left hand and proceeded to win gold in the 25m rapid fire pistol event twice in a row (at London 1948 and Helsinki 1952).
    • Another Hungarian, Oliver Halassy, won two golds and one silver (1928, 1932 and 1936) despite his left leg being amputated below the knee.
    • And the earliest case, American gymnast George Eyser, who had a wooden leg, and won six medals (half of them golden) at St. Louis 1904 Summer Olympics.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Kinda... Pierre de Coubertin left the IOC because he thought female athletes were a betrayal to the Olympic ideal (the Ancient Greece games had only men).
    • Take That: In Sydney 2000, the Olympic Torch ran its last stage by seven of Australia's most successful female athletes (also a tribute to a hundred years of women's participation in the Games)... four-time gold-medalist runner Betty Cuthbert (in a wheelchair pushed by fellow runner, three-time silver-medalist runner Raelene Boyle), eight-medal swimmer Dawn Fraser, seven-medal runner Shirley Strickland, 1972 five-time medalist swimmer Shane Gould and 1988 gold-winning hurdler Debbie Flintoff-King... before handing it off to 1996 silver-medal runner Cathy Freeman (notable for being of Aboriginal descentnote ) as a women's chorus sang. If there is such a thing as a Crowning Moment of Goddessness, this was it. Freeman herself would win her gold during these Games.
    • London 2012 marked the first time that all the participating countries sent at least one female athlete.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Sports that have doubles versions have this on lock, but certainly the most iconic pair in recent years are three-time beach volleyball gold medalists Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings. To the point where Kerri said without a hint of self-consciousness that she is absolutely "married to Misty".
    • Against all odds, best friends McKayla Maroney and Kyla Ross, who'd been best friends since age five and dreamed about the Olympics almost as long, both made the 2012 Women's Gymnastics Team, winning gold with Team USA. Maroney has said that she doesn't "have a memory that doesn't involve Kyla."
  • Home Field Advantage: It's been noted that the host country often earns more medals than in Games where they're not hosting. The stats thrown around during London 2012 is that the host's medal haul goes up by 50%.
    • There is also an unambiguous set of advantages that home nations get in being able to put teams and competitors into every single sport and event, meaning they will usually field a disproportionately large contingent of athletes.
    • Subverted by Canada in 1976, who became the first host nation to finish the games without any gold medals.
  • I Call It "Vera": Paralympian Hannah Cockroft calls her wheelchair Sally.
  • Iconic Logo: The five rings, which supposedly represent the five competing continents.
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee sprinter running in the 2012 Olympics men's 400m was eliminated in the semi-finals. He regardless became a headline because of his disability. At least...
    • Broken Pedestal: ...until he was accused of killing his girlfriend, convicted of culpable homicide (the South African legal term for manslaughter), and then saw the conviction upgraded to murder after the government appealednote . The episode became a huge black stain on his reputation.
  • International Showdown by Proxy: To the point some consider the Games the closest the Cold War superpowers came from fighting each other.
  • Just for Pun: In the opening ceremonies, the Bermuda team traditionally wears Bermuda shorts.
    • Emil Zátopek, a great distance runner with an unusual, contorted style, was known as "the Bouncing Czech".
  • Loophole Abuse: Torvill & Dean's legendary Bolero pairs skate at the 1984 Games. Unable to condense their music to within the stated time limits, they reviewed the rules and discovered that technically time didn't start until their skate blades touched the ice. So they began their routine on their knees!
  • Male Gaze: There was a backlash in the 2012 games against the way the female athletes were being treated in the media. One photographer deliberately cropped out the heads of male athletes to mock the way female beach volleyball players were photographed and NBC pulled a video titled "Bodies in Motion" after complaints that it was objectifying.
  • Misplaced Nationalism: Nationalism is quite a serious matter when it comes to the Olympics. Rooting for your countrymen can be subject to you being trolled on the internet, especially if you root for a high medal nation like the United States or China.
  • Multinational Team: American Olympians come from varied backgrounds and ethnicity.
    • The Europe and North American-dominated winter Olympics are slowly becoming this, with a skier from Africa (nicknamed "The Snow Leopard"), a French male figure skater who was born in South America, African-American speed skater Shani Davis, Japanese-American figure skater Mirai Nagasu, a Japanese pairs skater who defected to Russia (Japan is more focused on individual skaters, not pairs), a trio of half-Japanese-half-Caucasian siblings ice dancing for Japan and Georgia, Cheltzie Lee — a half-Chinese-half-African-American female figure skater from Australia, and quite a few African-born Germans in the 2010 Vancouver games. Past games included the famous Jamaican Bobsled Team, a female African-American bobsledder, Japanese-American ice-skater (and fellow Dancing With The Stars champion, along with Anton Apolo Ohno)) Kristi Yamaguchi, Chinese-American ice skater Michelle Kwan, and French-African figure skater Surya Bonaly, who did impressive (but illegal and non-point-earning) one-legged back-flips in her performances.
    • At the 1908 and 1912 Games, Australia and New Zealand competed together as Australasia. One hundred years later in 2012, when New Zealand overtook Australia in the medals table for four days, some Australian media outlets thought the two countries still competed together.
    • The Soviet teams were always multinational, as they consisted of athletes from formerly sovereign nations that had been absorbed into the Soviet Union. The Unified Team of the 1992 Olympics are perhaps the best example, as it was exactly what it sounded like: the combined athletes of almost all the former Soviet Socialist Republics that had gained independencenote  being allowed to compete together one last time after the fall of the Soviet Union, since none of these countries (aside from perhaps Russia) had been able to set up their own Olympic committees. The former Yugoslavia is another excellent example.
    • The Independent Olympic Athletes - A team that consists of athletes with no state to call home, or from states that don't have a recognised National Olympics Committee. By its nature it's made up of athletes from all over the more troubled parts of the world.
  • No Fair Cheating: Use performance-enhancing drugs without a therapeutic use exemption, and you lose your medals (even if the doping is discovered many years later, as Marion Jones shows). Lie about a team member's age, and have the same thing happen—10 years after the Sydney Games in 2000, when it was discovered that one of China's female gymnasts had been underage, the team was stripped of its bronze medal, which was then awarded to the US.
  • Old Media Playing Catch-Up: NBC's US Olympic Coverage is often Live but Delayed by many, many hours (around 16 hours for the Beijing opening ceremonies) until the American prime time where the most advertising dollars are. NBC has persuaded the International Olympic Committee to schedule more popular events live at times more acceptable to American primetime schedules to avoid spoilers, but even then, the network still screws the West Coast by delaying it by three hours anyway, with very few exceptions. As of the London 2012 Games, they now stream events live online (albeit with extreme amounts of ads and lots and lots of buffering), but there are still enough issues that "#nbcfail" became a rather popular Twitter tag that year.
    • The big events aren't shown live; they're instead saved for the primetime package. This was even done for the Vancouver 2010 games, where the time zone difference was exactly the same as if (for example) the Super Bowl had been held on the West Coast — except that since events occurred throughout the day, the issue of delay was even less of an issue.note  On top of that, said package tends to spread events out over the entire airing; they show the performances of those with lower ranks at 7:00, and don't show the medal contenders until a couple minutes before midnight. In events like ice skating where one athlete goes at a time, if you want to watch others, you have to stay in front of your television for 5 hours and HOPE that in between the commercials, other sports, and random garbage, NBC was nice enough to include non-Americans. NOT. FUN.
    • The opening and closing ceremonies have their own issues. For one, having them covered like a news or sports event rather than just turning the cameras on and letting the show unfold. With London 2012's opening ceremony, NBC defended themselves by saying that such a show needed "context", but the commentators were... not particularly helpful, let's say. Also, in the closing ceremonies for 2010, 2012, and 2014; they cut away from the show for both news (OK, news is kind of understandable) and a special debut of a new series, picking up the ceremony's afterparty again an hour later. The 2012 opening ceremonies also edited out a performance of the hymn "Abide With Me" in favor of an interview with swimmer Michael Phelps; NBC denied knowing the segment was a tribute to the people who died in the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, but they cut it anyway as unsuitable for American audiences. Meanwhile, that year's and 2014's closing ceremonies each had nearly an hour edited out for time (which in Sochi amounted to over a third of the entire thing), which was especially egregious since both were preceded by an hour to hour-and-a-half that was used for a retrospective before airing the ceremony proper.
    • On top of that, NBC has absolutely no live coverage of the Paralympics. All we're getting is five highlight shows, along with a 90-minute retrospective... which will air a week after the closing ceremonies.
    • On the other side of the pond, however, The BBC managed to completely and utterly avert this trope with comprehensive coverage (they set up a temporary channel for every sport! Although not without a little financial help) web streaming, a top notch web site and more. Apparently people from over the world were trying to find ways around the iPlayer region lockouts because the BBC coverage was just so much better than what was being shown in other countries. The effort and slick execution put into their coverage has rightly earned Auntie huge praise.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Athletes have competed and won medals with injuries that would leave them perfectly justified in curling up into whimpering balls of pain.
    • At the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, figure skater Oksana Baiul collided with Tanja Szewczenko during a practice session before the long program/free skate, requiring several stitches and two injections of painkillers in order to skate in the long program. She skated extremely well and won the gold medal, but broke down into tears after getting off the ice.
    • Gymnast Kerri Strug was the last gymnast to vault on the American team rotation in the 1996 Atlanta Games. She was following up a two-fall showing by Dominique Moceanu — and she proceeded to fall on her rear on her first vault, badly spraining her ankle. Well, Kerri, and team coach Bela Károlyi, note  weren't about to stand for that. Despite intense pain in what proved to be a third-degree lateral sprain and severe tendon damage, she calmly walked back to the end of the runway, vaulted again, and stuck her landing on one foot.note  Her courageous vault sealed the first US women's team gold in Olympic history. Then she quite understandably curled up into a whimpering ball of pain; the image of Kerri sinking to her knees in agony would go on to become the most iconic of the Games. Kerri explains some of the background and her rationale here.
    • At the 2010 Olympics, Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdic takes a brutal spill in practice, falling about ten feet down a hill into a gully. She comes out for the qualifying run and qualifies collapsing in pain and unable to stand after. After returning from x-rays at the hospital, she wins her quarterfinal, then gets a lucky loser spot in the semis to qualify for the final, all in abject agony. Four races, five broken ribs, and one pneumothorax later, she came out of it all with a bronze medal.
    • In the 2006 Turin Olympics, Chinese figure skater Zhang Dan fell while attempting a quadruple salchow jump during the free skate program, injuring her leg as a result. But her and her partner Zhang Hao decided to continue the program and they had enough points to finish with a silver medal.
    • In the 2012 men's 4x400 relay, Manteo Mitchell was halfway through his 400 meter lap when he literally heard his left leg bone snap in half. He still managed to finish the last half of his leg in a good enough time for the US relay team to qualify for the finals.
    • Canadian figure skater Elvis Stojko competed in the 1998 Olympics even though he had a serious groin injury and was feeling weak from a recent bout with the flu. He couldn't even take painkillers because this might have made him fail a drug test. He doubled over in agony at the end of his free program, but he had skated well enough to win the silver medal.
    • Canadian rower Silken Laumann was injured in a training accident ten months before the 1992 Summer Olympics. Her ankle was badly fractured and her calf muscles and ligaments were torn in several places. Doctors initially thought she might lose her leg and that even if she didn't, her rowing career was clearly over. But they had underestimated her; not only did she compete in the Olympics, she won a bronze medal. It probably didn't surprise many Canadians when she was chosen as the flag bearer for the Closing Ceremony.
  • Opposing Sports Team / Designated Villain: Team USA. While some of America's athletes are still rooted on and gain a fandom from other countries, not many become too pleased when the US wins the Gold Medal Count...but rejoice if they reach second or less in the gold medal count. And then there's the overall vs gold debate like was mentioned above. It is not uncommon; and pretty ironic, to see this hatedom root for another "superpower" like China or Russia just to see the US lose.
    • An older sports writer commented on this after the 1984 Los Angeles games. He said the U.S. attitude had been that of a bullying child who was bigger than all the other kids, winning all the prizes at its own birthday party and then prancing around crowing "I won, I won!"
    • Not to mention this kind of thing taking place in Sydney 2000. Then they clowned around during the National Anthem. Olympic officials and many others were not amused. Some even tied it to the Sept. 11 attacks — not the actions of the athletes themselves, but the attitude behind them.
    • Part of the attitude is caused by the fact that who wins or loses is not just based on athletes' "heart" or "will to win" but on resources. In the superpower nations, billions are devoted to the care and training of athletes. A runner from Honduras may have just as much Olympic spirit as one from the U.S., but the U.S. one has the advantage of better nutrition, superior coaching and training areas, and can devote all her time to practicing, while the Honduras one just doesn't have that kind of infrastructure. When Honduras does win, it becomes a Take That.
    • A classic example would be Usain Bolt's (and Jamaica overall) phenomenal performance in Beijing, where numerous commentators simply could not comprehend that someone from a "tiny, poor nation with a population of only 2.5 million" (something repeated ad nauseum) could pull this off without the resources that a US athlete had.
    • For Americans themselves, it's currently China that gets this treatment a lot. While China and the United States tend to be strong in fairly different sports, where they DO actually compete on even footing head-to-head you can expect something to eventually be made of China's harsh methods of raising and training its athletes and/or accusations of doping or underage performers to fly.
    • Not to mention that The Soviet Union and The U.S.A. were this to each other for decades, and it shaped both of their sporting cultures for the better part of the 20th Century. Even in retrospectives recapping significant events from the Olympic games of the past, the narration will often talk about it almost exactly as if it is a sports movie. The Soviet Union and particularly East Germany were (and in retrospect to past Olympics still are) often also regarded in this light in a number of other Western bloc countries due to very well documented steroid abuse programs that they were running at the time.
    • Of course, we must mention the 1936 German team. Who could possibly be better sports villains than actual Nazis?
  • Orwellian Retcon : The medals awarded to the participants of the Olympic art competitions are not tracked anymore by the I.C.C.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: At the Los Angeles 1984 Games, the US men's gymnastics team won gold. Nobody cared, because Mary Lou Retton won the individual all-around (a US first) over her Romanian rival Ekaterina Szabo by scoring perfect tens on floor and vault. Sorry, guys!
    • Eric Heiden is this Up to Eleven. At Lake Placid in 1980, he won all five speed skating events, at distances ranging from 500 m to 10,000 m, making him the first person ever to win five individual gold medals at a single Games. Unfortunately for him and his legacy, there was this other Miracle on Ice...
  • Passing the Torch: The Olympic Torch Relay is the Ur-Example and Trope Namer, though unlike our trope definition it usually isn't explicitly passed from an older to a younger generation. The closing ceremonies' traditional handoff from the current host city to the next one also qualifies.
    • Two places the generational part was invoked were in Tokyo 1964 and London 2012, both of which had the final runners to receive their torches be young athletes. Tokyo had a 19-year-old runner who was born on the day of the Hiroshima bombings, and London had seven teen athletes nominated by veteran Olympians.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: In events with weight classes, the lighter competitors are this. For instance, the women's weightlifting can have 5-foot tall women hoisting more than double their weight over their heads and making it look easy.
    • Female gymnasts. Most barely break five feet tall, if that. And yet they manage to fling themselves around, over, and through heavy objects with strength that would make a Green Beret proud.
  • Pop-Up Texting: The British pop-culture segment of the London 2012 opening ceremony showed these as it portrayed young people going out for a night on the town, phones in hand, keeping in contact with each other, and culminating with two of them getting a Relationship Upgrade on not-Facebook.
  • Pregnant Badass: At least four pregnant women have competed in the Olympics. The most recent of them, Malaysian shooting champion Nur Suryani Mohamed Tahibi, competed in the London 2012 Olympics while eight months pregnant. It can now be said that at least one woman has won a gold medal while pregnant (albeit very, very early pregnancy). Only after the event did fans learn that beach volleyball legend Kerri Walsh Jennings had been five weeks pregnant during the 2012 London Games. She and partner Misty May-Treanor won gold for the third consecutive Summer Olympics.
  • Pretentious Latin Motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius, meaning "Faster, Higher, Stronger." It was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin in 1894 with the founding of the International Olympic Committee and was introduced in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. De Coubertin got the inspiration from his fellow atheltics enthusiast Henri Didon.
  • Product Placement / Product Displacement: While the Olympics themselves are an increasingly commercial affair, athletes are forbidden from wearing any logos other than their own country's and the equipment manufacturers' trademark. In fact, until fairly recently you couldn't show the trademark, either. Jean-Claude Killy raised considerable controversy in 1968 by failing to hide the Head mark on his skis in post-competition photos (Hunter S. Thompson wrote about it at length, and was one of the first to suggest that maybe it wasn't such a big deal — and perhaps the whole "amateurism" thing was just a huge joke and a scam designed to make rich people feel better about losing). Some people still believe he was paid.
    • Several members of the USA Men's Basketball 1992 "Dream Team" (the first with all professional players) came out for the medal ceremony draped in American Flags. This was to cover up the Reebok sponsor's logo on their official Olympics warmup suits; they had exclusive contracts with Nike or Converse to only wear items with their logo on it, but couldn't not wear the official garments.
    • Similarly, the Brazilian Olympic Committee was sponsored by local brand Olympikus, but the soccer confederation is sponsored by Nike, needing deals to use Nike apparel. Then Nike became the NOC sponsor, but 8 other brands were seen among the 2012 delegation (i.e. Olympikus for volleyball, Asics for handball).
    • It gets a little weird with the snowboarders since the logos on the undersides of their board are gigantic compared to tiny Nike swooshes and Adidas "leaves".
    • In recent years, the organizing committees have gone to great lengths to ensure that there are no references to any non-sponsor in and around venues. These range from the typical "rename the venue for the duration of the Games" situations (i.e. GM Place becoming "Canada Hockey Place", or London's O2 Arena becoming "The North Greenwich Arena"), to even putting tape over the logos on bathroom fixtures.
    • Even worse is their campaign against ambush marketing; for the 2012 Olympics, there is a very strict law criminalizing non-sponsors creating an "association" with the games in order to "protect" official sponsors. This means a special form of trademark protection during the games to any individual words and imagery relating to the games (Don't you dare mention "London" and "2012" in the same sentence. Or even "sports" for that matter). And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse; they even have special "brand police" too! (This gets funny when you factor in their issues with getting enough actual security.) On a side note, the restaurant chain Little Chef is still able to offer its Olympic Breakfast (on its menu since 1994) owing to a Grandfather Clause.
      • Sponsor exclusivity got frighteningly pervasive in London — nobody was allowed to sell chips in the Olympic zones except for McDonald's (an IOC sponsor), to the fury of Londoners (and Britons in general, in sympathy). The rule did permit chips to be sold as part of fish and chips...but as any Brit can tell you:
      Indignant Englishman: But what if I want sausages and chips? Or a pie and chips? Or a greasy chip butty?
      IOC: McDonalds.
      IE: Those are OK, I suppose, but they're just not the same! And what are you doing encouraging McDonalds anyway? You're the Olympics! Shouldn't you be opposed to chips on principle?
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Winning an Olympic bid usually means that it will bankrupt a city. The most extreme cases have been Montreal and Athens.
    • But not always. Barcelona, for example, came out from hosting the Games with a largely improved infrastructure. And most of the American stadiums (Atlanta, Lake Placid, Los Angeles, etc.) have been quite profitable as professional or collegiate sporting venues. Atlanta's Olympic village and revamped neighborhoods are now used by Georgia Tech as dormitories, collegiate apartments, and downtown parks.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Olympic mascots.
    • Cute Mute: Many cartoons and ads featuring the mascots are light on dialogue and heavy on gesture and slapstick, presumably to make them understandable to fans no matter their language.
  • The Rival/Fandom Rivalry: Rivalries are huge in sports, and the Olympics are no exception. Some notables include USA vs. the Soviet Union, USA vs. Russia, USA vs. China, USA vs. Canada, Norway vs. Sweden, Australia vs. New Zealand, Nancy Kerrigan vs. Tonya Harding, Maria Riesch vs. Lindsey Vonn, any Korean Speedskater vs. Apolo Anton Ohno, etc...
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Zara Phillips; The Queen's granddaughter, 14th in line to the throne, and Team GB Equestrian silver medallist.
    • And prior to that her mother, Princess Anne, the Queen's daughter competed as a member of the British Equestrian Team in the 1976 Olympics.
    • Another one in the equestrian is HRH Prince Abdullah al-Saud; grandson of the King of Saudi Arabia, and Olympic bronze medallist.
    • A few other royals have been involved in Olympic events over the years, typically the more "aristocratic" ones (like equestrian, sailing, and rowing). The highest ranking of these is Juan Carlos I of Spain, who competed as Juan Carlos de Borbón in the Dragon class sailing event in 1972 Games (three years before he took the throne), in which he and his partner took 15th.
  • Sadistic Choice: For Muslim athletes: Honor the fast of Ramadan (where even water is forbidden during the day) or compete in the Olympics? Some do both, others will fast after the games (there are good authorities supporting both opinions). Fortunately, Ramadan isn't always in the summertime. Particularly pleasant, however, is when the Games are in the Southern Hemisphere during Ramadan during Southern Hemisphere winter, as they get a shorter fast when they would normally have a long one.
    • While the Summer Olympics overlapping with Ramadan is rarely pleasant, this was particularly exacerbated in 2012 by London's extreme northerly latitude (51 degrees north),note  which is high enough that daylight — and thus the fast — lasts just under 16 hours at the height of summer (i.e. when the games are held). For Muslim Britons, this has caused a measure of Fantastic Religious Weirdness — many fast shortened hours (typically a 12-hour fast regardless of sunrise or sunset). As for the athletes....
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Silver medalists tend to be much more displeased with their win than the bronze medalists. While bronze medalists are generally grateful that they placed at all, those who win silver often feel like they just missed out on that all-important gold medal; doubly so if they were heavily favored to win gold and were upset by someone else, and triply so if it occurred in a tournament game where winning the bronze medal means that they won the bronze medal game but winning the silver medal means that they lost the gold medal game. It doesn't help that the medal ceremony is held right after the final game, giving the silver medalists no time to collect themselves and put on a sporting face. Some don't even try to hide their disappointment on the podium. On the other hand, it helps to have a sense of humor about it. And if that's not enough, milk it for all it's worth!
  • Second Place Is for Winners: Subverted in the 2012 games, when several women's badminton teams were ejected from the contest entirely for throwing matches to earn an easier opponent in the second round. Played straight the same year, when the Japanese women's soccer team played for a draw to trade a tougher seed in the next match but avoid a 300 mile trip to Glasgow. And it worked: They defeated Brazil 2-0.
    • In 1998, an interviewer asked Team-USA figure-skater Michelle Kwan how it felt to "lose the gold".
    • At times, Third Place Is For Winners (despite many considering the bronze a consolation, their winners are usually much happier for just winning something!). See Tom Daley's reaction after winning a bronze in the 10m platform!
    • The Croatian Men's Basketball team had this attitude at the 1992 Games, as they were up against the Dream Team: the US Men's team that included the best players in the NBA for the first time. The Croatians had no illusions of winning against the likes of Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson, and were saying how it was such an honor to win the silver medal before the final game even started.
  • Serious Business: The Medal Count. Officially, the IOC does not recognize a ranking of participating countries at the Olympic Games; mainly because the games are supposed to be about the best athletes, not the best countries, although they publish medal tables for informational purposes, showing the total number of medals earned by athletes representing each country. Regardless, many still consider it official and take it very seriously.
    • Even worse, there is a medal count controversy about what medal count table to use. The IOC and most countries use gold first ranking system while the US and Canada use the total medal count. The difference in ranking system received scant notice, since in most Olympics, the country that led in total medals also led in the gold count. However in 2008, China and the U.S. bucked this trend, topping the gold and total medal tallies respectively. China largely sided with using the less common American standard to judge their performance from the start of the games onwards, and thus felt they came in second to the Americans despite winning a whopping 15 more gold medals. This happened again in 2010, although with Canada in place of China. Critics and Anti-Americanists (even some gloating Canadians when they won the gold medal count, even though they also use the total medal table) accused the US of spinning the medal count, even though the Americans have used the Overall Medal Count for years. Even Jacques Rogge had to step in say that the medal counts are unofficial.
    • Australians like to boast that their 1896 Olympic team was the most successful ever, with every team member winning two gold medals. This is true, in a Mathematician's Answer kind of way: Australia's team that year consisted of a runner named Edwin Flack.
  • Sigil Spam: The Olympic Rings logo gets put everywhere. Also the participating countries' national flags.
  • Special Guest: Opening and closing ceremonies usually include appearances by celebrities and other iconic people from the host country. London 2012's opening ceremonies even featured two fictional British icons, James Bond (played by Daniel Craig) and Mr. Bean (Rowan Atkinson); plus it had a couple nods to Doctor Who.note 
  • Sore Loser: Perhaps the most notorious example in Olympic history comes from the 2008 Beijing games, where Taekwondo competitor Angel Matos kicked a referee after losing his gold medal bout. He was banned for life for this incident, even though many felt he had legitimate grievances with the standard of refereeing of the match.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Mostly in basketball and volleyball.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: The athletes' parade during London 2012's opening ceremony played several contemporary hits, from Adele's "Rolling in the Deep" to The Bee Gees' "Stayin' Alive" (appropriately enough while Fiji enters) and even Irish rock band U2's "Where the Streets have No Name" and "Beautiful Day", as well as electronic pop hits Underworld, which directed the music throughout the ceremonies. When Team Great Britain entered, the PA plays David Bowie's "Heroes". This segment was also book-ended by The Chemical Brothers' "Galvanize". Given that Danny Boyle was the London 2012 artistic director, all the music used was highly thematic. The theme song from Chariots of Fire (itself a film about two British Olympians during Paris 1924) would also be played during all medal ceremonies, while "Heroes" would override the song whenever British athletes win gold medals.
  • Take a Third Option: The International Wushu Federation pushed for the inclusion of the sport for the 2008 Beijing games. Instead of including it officially (which would mean a lot of work) or rejecting it outright, the IOC allowed the organizing committee to organize a tournament in parallel with the games.
  • Tasty Gold: Atheletes often do this with medals they win; it makes for a great photo-op.
    • Bill Maher lampshaded a reason why doing so at the '08 Olympics would be unwise
    Maher: This is China, you'll get lead-poisoning!
  • Tears of Joy: Often of the Inelegant Blubbering variety.
  • There Can Be Only One: Not always played straight. Some competitions might allow tied competitors to share a medal, and if it's not two bronze medals, they eliminate either the silver or the bronze (leading in 2014 to a podium with two winners and a third place).
  • Training from Hell: All of the athletes must undergo some form of this to be in peak condition for the sporting events.
  • Turn Coat: It's not rare to see someone abandoning its native country for an Olympic spot (e.g. the 2008 male beach volleyball bronze medal match was between a Brazilian team and a Georgian team... composed of Brazilians!note ).
    • Inverted in 2008, when NBA superstar Yao Ming played for his native China.
      • Also in 2008, Uzbek gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, having moved to Germany to procure medical care for her son's leukemia and obtaining German citizenship, competed for her adopted nation.
  • The Unexpected: Any time an outsider invades the field, such as a streaker in a football game in 2000, and a crazed priest who pushed the Brazilian who lead the 2004 marathon to the sidewalk (where a huge Greek then helped him get free), probably costing him the gold medal — he ended with a bronze.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: To keep in two examples, in 1996 the Cuban female volleyball team got in a fight with the Brazilian one; and in 2008 a Cuban taekwondo fighter kicked the referee after losing!
    • The Nancy Kerrigan incident.
    • No one seems to have told the Paralympians that basketball is a non-contact sport; if a player goes a match without getting tipped over, they probably weren't trying hard enough.
    • A French basketball player kicked a Spanish player in the groin during the 2012 Olympics.
    • Also in 2012, Abby Wambach of the USA Women's Soccer team took a punch in the face during a game against Colombia.
    • The Bloodbath of Melbourne in the 1956 water polo tournament between Hungary and the Soviet Union, who had invaded Hungary weeks before.
  • Un Installment: Given "Olympiad" is the four year gap, the Games which didn't happen because of the World Wars still count.
    • Only in the Summer Games, officially titled "Games of the [insert Roman numeral] Olympiad". The numbering scheme for the Winter Games (officially "[Insert Roman numeral] Winter Olympic Games") counts only the Games themselves (specially as one time, the gap was of only two years).
  • Wearing a Flag on Your Head: While not true of every country, many national teams will dress their athletes in very flag-like colors or motifs. Team USA wears a lot of stars, Team Canada wears a lot of maple leaves, etc., etc.
    • The 2012 Team GB uniforms across most sports have a very prominent Union Jack motif (except it's in shades of blue and the only red is in the emblem).
    • It can become a bit uncomfortable if you accidentally put your headband on upside-down and your country isn't Austria, Bangladesh, Botswana, Jamaica, Japan, Laos, Latvia, Libya (well, the old one anyway), Nigeria, or Thailand.
    • Averted by Australia: Australian athletes wear mostly green and gold, Australia's national colours, but these colours appear nowhere on the Australian flag (which is blue, red and white). This is because, instead of the flag, they choose to honor their national flower, the Golden Wattle.
    • Similarly New Zealand (whose flag looks very similar to Australia aside from a different constellation of red stars) prefer to wear their national colours of black and silver instead. Black, which is prominent in the culture of the country's indigenous Māori people, is also notable as the main colour of the national rugby union team, the All Blacks. The silver comes from the silver fern (Cyathea dealbata), the national "flower". The New Zealand association football (soccer) teams buck the trend and wear white, because black uniforms were originally reserved for referees.
    • Similarly averted by the Netherlands: They were predominantly orange despite the Dutch flag being a standard red-white-blue tricolour. Mainly because the Dutch monarchy's official color is orange, and the royal family is, rather appropriately, called "Orange".
    • Another aversion is Italy, which usually wears blue for the same reason as the Netherlands wearing orange, to honor their monarchy — even though Italy's been a republic for quite a long time now. German athletes may sometimes wear white (because the pre-Nazi German flag had the color along with black and red; the gold replaced it after the fall of the Nazis).
    • And South Africa presents a subversion: its flag has six colors, but the representing colors are two: green and yellow.
    • In fencing, wearing the your flag on your face mask seems somewhat popular, and most nations have their flag on one of their legs.
  • Wham Episode: Muhammad Ali's appearance at the 1996 Games' Opening Ceremony saw him racked by advanced Parkinson's disease due to the head trauma of his boxing career. This so shocked America that it is considered one of the major turning points in the popularity of the entire sport.
    • Also the terrorist attacks: another also in Atlanta, the Centennial Park bombing, and the infamous Munich massacre 24 years prior. Other deaths were less proeminent.
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?: Women's volleyball and handball. A few other sports at times.
  • Worst News Judgment Ever: Part of the NBCFail; they like to include extra stories related to either the host country or some aspect of the Games themselves, but sometimes it gets out of hand when viewers just want to see the events. For example, in London 2012: a five-minute or less bit on something related to James Bond? Okay, fine. A half-hour feature on the '92 basketball Dream Team one night and a full-hour feature on Britain in World War II the next? Not fine.