YMMV / Olympic Games

  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Any Olympic "superpower", including the United States, Russia, China and especially the United States. Did we mention especially the United States?
    • Norway, Germany, Canada, and Austria are considered "superpowers" in the Winter Games but they are not as ridiculed since they aren't as huge in the Summer Games as well in comparison to the countries mentioned above (and often join the chorus targeting the above).
    • The host city and country of the present Olympics or the upcoming Olympics, as the host will always receive scrutiny about how they prepare for and host the Games, alongside the fact that any political controversies the country has tend to be magnified during this period. This goes double for former and future "Olympic Superpowers", triple for current "Olympic Superpowers", quadruple if the United States is hosting.
    • Canadians, as deemed by...Canadians in the 2010 Vancouver Games' closing ceremony.
    • The U.S. men's basketball team since the Dream Team era. If they didn't win big, then they're bashed for underperforming. If they win very big, then they're accused of running up the score.
    • NBC, for, among other things, its tape-delaying.
    • And, of course, the 1936 Berlin Games featured the most acceptable target of allnote .
    • Russia has become this primarily due to the horror stories that came out from the journalists.
    • The IOC itself has become an acceptable target, due to its reputation of being comprised of rich snobs that would rather have countries go broke making new venues rather than reusing existing stadiums, which amped up when the only choices for the 2022 Olympics were eventual winner Beijing, Chinanote  or Almaty, Kazakhstannote  as all the other potential bidders backed down due to costs. A leaked list of their demands doesn't help.note 
    • Russia again during the 2016 Rio Games, due to a major state-sponsored doping scandal that broke shortly before, which led to the World Anti-Doping Agency—unsuccessfully—recommending that Russia be banned entirely from the Games. Anytime a Russian athlete appeared, expect many people, both in the stadium and on the web, to boo them and root against them.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In the otherwise music-dominated closing ceremony for the 2012 London Games, there was a short skit where Del and Rodney from the British sitcom Only Fools and Horses dressed up as Batman and Robin crashing into a door then saying "You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"
  • Broken Base:
    • Although officially the Olympics is out of politics and even created to resolve national conflicts without violence, accusations of political prejudice very often cause disputes between countries that are old political opponents in life. Expect that virtually any contest between the U.S., Russia and China will end with at least a few mutual accusations of dishonest judging, injustice or, more recently, in doping. It also has local variations, such as a longstanding confrontation between the Russian and Ukrainian schools of rhythmic gymnastics, which arose from the separation of the older Soviet school of this sport after the collapse of the USSR.
    • Scandal with doping in Russia in the lead-up to the 2016 Rio Games. While WADA with a large number of supporters considered Russia initially obviously guilty and called for the total disqualification of Russian athletes at least at this Olympiad, Russia and those sympathizing with it, considered it a deliberate slander and an attempt to eliminate Russia as a dangerous athlete or "revenge" her for political reasons. Everything is only getting worse in the context of the past doping scandal in socialist Germany and Bulgaria, as well as the refusal of the prosecutors to disclose allegedly obvious evidence of Russian guilt.
    • Hacker scandal with the disclosure of the widely "official" use of doping among Western athletes, also falls into this. Is this justified by medical nuances, or is it really real doping, whose "officiality" is only a formal excuse for concealing a crime?
    • The 2002 Pairs Skating Scandal. Namely, whether the Russian or Canadian pair deserved to win the gold medal with or without the controversy.
    • Pretty much any subjective sport falls victim to this, especially if the decision was a close one.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Curling as a whole.
      • Canada's skips, Kevin Martin and Cheryl Bernard.
      • The 2010 Vancouver Games gave us the Norwegian men's curling team pants. By the time the Games ended, those pants had their own Facebook page and Hatedom.
      • Also at Vancouver 2010, NBC broadcast curling on their news affiliate CNBC, which switched over from finance coverage at the end of the business day. Wall Street traders started watching after the market closed and were hooked instantly.
      • In the PeyongChang 2018 Games, the United States men's curling team catapulted into the spotlight when they started knocking out powerhouses in the sport and eventually earned the gold.
    • Eric "the Eel" Moussambani in the 2000 Sydney Games was a swimmer who didn't even make it into the semi-finals. Nonetheless, he became more remembered than the eventual gold medalist in the event.
    • Any tropical country that ever succeeds at the Winter Games. Ever.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Gymnast Vera Caslavska, competing for Czechoslovakia in the 1968 Mexico City Games, was beloved by Mexican fans after she a) set her gold medal-winning routine to the Mexican Hat Dance, and b) married her husband at Mexico City Cathedral in a highly publicized ceremony. Years later, after Caslavska had run afoul of the authorities in her home country, she was offered the chance to coach in Mexico. The Mexican authorities actually threatened to stop exporting oil to Czechoslovakia if the government did not permit her to go. They did.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Australia's speed skating outfits looks a lot like Kick-Ass's costume.
    • Octuple-gold medalist Michael Phelps' rather large game-week diet, which was later "explained" as just a major case of the munchies.
    • For some reason, having Ireland as a "buffer" between Iran and Israel's flags/delegations.
      • For once, Ireland made something better.
      • While this does make sensenote , it remains particularly amusing to people who remember how things were in The '70s and The '80snote .
    • Japan will host the 2020 Olympics. Just like AKIRA predicted.
    • After the 2008 Beijing Games, the Bird's Nest stadium was temporarily converted into a snow-laden theme park in 2010. Five years later, they became the first city to win the hosting rights to both the Summer and Winter Olympics, and more of the original venues will be renovated to accommodate for frigid sports.
    • In 2008, Michael Phelps took a photo with a Singaporean boy. That boy turned out to be Joseph Schooling, who in the 2016 Rio Games defeated Phelps, along with Chad le Clos and Laszlo Cseh, in the 100m butterfly swimming competition.
  • "Holy Shit!" Quotient: Some of the opening ceremonies have scenes that rank quite high on the HSQ scale, examples include the massive Tai Chi circle in the 2008 Beijing Games and the entire Pandemonium section of the 2012 London Games.
  • Internet Backdraft:
    • Rooting for your country—especially if you're from the United States. And let's not even get started about bids for or even hosting the Olympics for a city.
    • Like the logo or mascots for the 2012 London Games? Don't bother voicing that over on the BBC Sport website.
    • After racist criticism of the opening ceremony from the 2012 London Games by the Daily Mail and the undesirable remarks from the odd Tory MPnote , the Internet was quick to flood the mail with comments of well-deserved abuse. The tabloid edited the online article, but later pulled the article in question after posters began to comment "this is what the article read BEFORE it was tampered with..."
    • Mention the 2010 Vancouver Games' hockey gold medal game on a hockey forum. Make sure to have the fire department on speed dial.
      • What, hockey gold medal? Mention the men's artistic skating one, aka Evgeni Plushenko vs. Evan Lycasek. Was Plushenko just throwing a tantrum over Lycasek winning his gold fair and square? Was Lycasek unfairly favored by xenophobic judges who hated Plushenko for being Russian? Say your prayers and call your local mortuary.
    • And to add to that nice roast flavor of the U.S. vs. Canada to any meal, mention the 2012 London Games' women's soccer semi-finals. For extra crispy dishes, comment on the length of time the Canadian keeper held onto the ball or the penalty given on the handball.
    • Do not talk about the 2014 Sochi Games' ladies figure skating results to figure skating fans. For added fun, tell a Yuna Kim fan that Adelina Sotnikova's win was totally deserved! Retorts of the "urgh she STOLE poor little Yuna Kim's gold, THAT RUSSIAN BITCH! CONSPIRATION!!!111" will immediately come forth.
      • Sochi's figure skating couldn't seem to avoid controversy: Did American ice dancers Charlie White and Meryl Davis actually earn their gold, or did a conspiracy allow them to take gold over the 2010 Vancouver Games' winners, Canadians Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue? Taking sides either way will probably earn a few nasty comments.
    • And from a generation back, break out the fire extinguishers for the 1972 Munich Games' men's basketball final.
    • In fact, there have been many conspiracy theories about the U.S. and Russia having secret agreements about which country would get which medals in Sochi. Mention them? There goes your life.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: Besides a number of events, viewers watch the Olympic Games just for the opening and closing ceremonies.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Usain Bolt of Jamaica, who broke the sprinting record in the 2008 Beijing Games.
    • Katie Taylor of Ireland, who won the gold medal in boxing in the 2012 London Games.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Narm Charm: The opening and especially the closing ceremonies.
    • After the 2008 Beijing Games, this might end, considering their massive and very impressive opening ceremony.
    • The 2010 Vancouver Games embraced the Narm. Besides, not many countries have thousands of soldiers they can spare for performances.
    • The 2012 London Games featured a giant Voldemort being defeated by an army of Mary Poppinses.
    • The 2014 Sochi Games had the return of mascot Mischa the Bearnote  from the heavily boycotted 1980 Moscow Games, accompanied by Hare and Snow Leopard. He blew out the Olympic Flame and, as before, shed a single tear. Only in Russia...
    • The logo for the 2012 London Games looking suspiciously like Lisa Simpson giving head.
  • Never Live It Down: McKayla Maroney's "Not Impressed" meme has completely eclipsed her gymnastic accomplishments. Fortunately, she's actually quite proud of her memetic status.
    • The games have become infamous for their sexual activity after a 2012 article revealed that the athletes village is basically a 24/7 orgy, with articles for every games since mentioning the number of condoms ordered and/or the excessive use of numerous hook-up apps—Grindr—which crashed during the London Games—Tinder, etc. (The Summer Olympics record currently belongs to Rio, who ordered 450,000 condoms-or to put it a better way, 42 condoms per athlete, while the Winter Olympics record belongs to Pyeongchang at 110,000)
    • The figure skating judging scandal of 2002 has been mentioned at every Olympics since and resulted in a change in the scoring system. And that STILL hasn't helped much, as a recent news report indicated something that's been blatantly obvious for years—judges favor skaters from or near their country and despite the Cold War ending nearly 30 years ago, voting still falls along those lines. Case in point, in 1994, American skater Nancy Kerrigan was ranked first by judges from Canada, England, America, etc, while Ukrainian skater Oksana Baiul was ranked first by judges from Poland, Russia, China—like Ukraine, formerly or currently Communist nation's.
  • Nightmare Fuel: This thing at the 2018 PyeongChang Games opening ceremony will make you not sleep for days.
    • On a much older note, the 1904 Summer Olympics. A horribly managed farce of an event that nearly ended the tradition right then and there, it's most horrifying aspect was the Marathon. A long slog of a race on dirt roads with trainers following the racers in 1900s era cars is bad enough, but then consider that there was literally only one water source that people from out of town would have problems drinking from because it was a well, the roads were littered with stones and the runners didn't have footwear that could protect them, there were feral dogs on the track who even ran one racer off course and he still finished ninth and it was reportedly a blistering 90 degrees fahrenheit in the shade and it's a wonder no one died. Jon Bois, who would later create 17776, covered the whole sordid affair as an episode of his video series Pretty Good. Fair warning, some of the stuff described is pretty terrifying.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: The rivalry between U.S. figure skaters Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan during the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Before the Games, Tonya allegedly had her then-husband hire an attacker to assault Nancy with a lead-pipe to the knee—dubbed the "Whack Heard 'Round the World"—in the hopes that Nancy would drop out of the competitionnote . Nonetheless, Nancy recovered in time to compete in Norway, and the ladies' showdown is one of the most watched TV moments in history. Not just for the Olympics or sporting events, but period.
  • Once Acceptable Targets: Any Olympic "superpower" that has since dissolved or is not as a superpower in the Olympics as they used to. While they can still be ridiculed from time to time, they aren't as ridiculed as much as current Acceptable Targets are. The Soviet Union, France, Germany, and Great Britain are such notable examples.
  • The Scrappy:
    • NBC's coverage is generally this due to its tape delay. When you tape delay Olympic events that take place in the Pacific Time Zone, for people who live in the Pacific Time Zone, your Scrappy title is earned. The 2016 Rio Games were one time zone to the east of Eastern Time Zone...and they still had it Live but Delayed!
    • With modern media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.—providing instant updates and coverage, it's nearly impossible to not be spoiled for events short of becoming a Luddite for two weeks. That NBC did provide live streams of the events as they occurred during the 2014 Sochi Games did help mitigate their Scrappy status somewhat but not enough to make them lose the Scrappy status. The fact that the opening ceremony was the only event not live-streamed didn't help.
    • Their coverage of the 2012 London Games' opening ceremony was another big reason for their Scrappy status. In addition to a widely criticized commentary by Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer, they deleted the part of the opening ceremony that was intended to be a tribute to people who died in the July 7, 2005 terrorist attack. Their response as to why they didn't air it? "Our programming is tailored for the U.S. audience." Note that this was on top of going to commercial during a part of the Pandemonium segment chronicling the arrival of black Caribbean immigrants to the UK.
    • Sure enough, they announced that the 2016 opening ceremony would be tape delayed so it aired during primetime. Even the stream was delayed. They also managed to convince the IOC to move certain events popular in the U.S., such as swimming and beach volleyball, to later times so it'd air in primetime in the U.S., with the result that some of the beach volleyball matches are played at midnight Rio time.
    • Rumor has it that for the 2016 Rio Games, NBC even asked the IOC to do the Parade of Nations in English instead of Brazilian Portuguesenote  so the United States would be toward the back instead of near the beginning, as Estados Unidos, and maximize their viewing figures. NBC denies it made that request.
    • NBC actually did stream the 2018 opening ceremony live online-but it was 'natural noises only', meaning only sounds from the stadium were heard, no commentary. The 'real' broadcast of course was delayed for primetime. (Granted, due to time zone differences the ceremony was on in the early morning in America, so one can't really fault NBC for that.)
  • The Slacker: India has garnered this reputation over the years. Despite being the second-most populous country in the world, it almost always does poorly in the Olympics, with many of its athletes being criticized as only being in it for the glory and not to seriously compete. This may be because, with the exception of football and cricket, Indian culture doesn't place as high a value on professional sports and doesn't spend nearly as much on athletic programs as China, the U.S., or Russia.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: Many have noticed that the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics theme sounds a lot like "Let It Go" from Frozen.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • Both Canada and Britain worried about how their opening ceremonies would compare to the spectacular ones in the 2008 Beijing Games. However, both are generally agreed to have done a good job, showcasing things about their country that are unique and displaying a little more levity and individualism than China did. Danny Boyle's London ceremonies mixed impressive spectaclenote  with moments like James Bond meeting the Queen, Rowan Atkinson inserting himself into a performance of, and scenes from, Chariots of Fire, and a giant dance party featuring about 50 years of the best of British music. And, of course, the famed "Mary Poppinses vs. Voldemort" scene, in a sequence that also saluted the NHS. So on the whole, it matched up pretty well.
    • The daunting task that any future Olympic swimmer will have to face if they try to defeat Michael Phelps' record in the 2008 Beijing Games of winning eight gold medals in a single Olympics. And as of the 2016 Rio Games, with 28 medals totalnote  to his name, Phelps is the most decorated Olympian EVER in any event. To top it off, by surpassing the 12 individual titles won by Leonidas of Rhodes in 152 BC, he also broke a 2168-year-old record set during the Ancient Olympic Games themselves.
    • Any and every team or athlete from a country following a particularly successful era in a given sport or taking over from a very successful retiring athlete will potentially be subjected to the strain of living in the shadow of those past gold medalists in the national consciousness:
      • The Australian swimming team suffered from this terribly in 2012, being pressured with very high expectations to live up to the very dominant period of Australians in the sport that had preceded them, to the point where it caused a huge media controversy.
      • So did the 2000 US women's gymnastics team, coming on the heels of the historic gold-medal Magnificent 7 team. Indeed, they finished fourth, and not until 10 years later were they awarded the bronze by default.
      • Jamaica has been searching for "the next Usain Bolt" since before the 2016 Rio Games, with Bolt declaring that they would be his last and Jamaica wanting to maintain its long-held dominance in the sprint events. Even so, regardless of nationality, it's likely Bolt's status as the only man to three-peat victories in the 100 and 200 races will stand for a long time.
      • American women have dominated figure skating since its inception note , but the arguable peak was from 1992—2006, during which they earned 3 golds note , 3 silvers note , and 2 bronzes note  with some of the most beautiful and talented skaters in history. None of the skaters in the years since have been able to measure up in terms of quality or results, with the Pyeongchang Games being the third Olympics that an American woman has failed to earn a medal.
      • Leading up to the women's vault final in the 2012 London Games, American gymnast McKayla Maroney was under tremendous pressure to repeat her astonishing, gold-medal winning vault from the team final. She was considered a lock for the individual gold, but fell on her second vault and had to settle for silver.
      • This Huffington Post article saw the 2014 Sochi Games as lacking in comparison to the 2010 Vancouver Games. Granted, this was just before the Games began.
      • Any athlete returning for a second, third, etc. Olympics is expected to match or better their previous performance and woe betide if they don't. Figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi, the 1992 Albertville gold medalist, saw this trope looming a mile away and decided to turn professional rather than return to the 1994 Games, knowing that between it being her second Olympics and being the defending gold medalist, the pressure on her to win would have been so intense that she was bound to falter.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Some of those who have faltered at the Games get this despite their supposedly sad circumstances—Tonya Harding was well known for complaining about being unfairly scored, but she's the one who showed up late and had dreadful practices at both of her Olympic appearances, derailing her hopes for a medal.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Olympic achievement can vary from different countries. In North America, you are considered great if you are able to reach the podium. But achievement-heavy cultures in East Asia can be disappointed with anything less than gold.
      • There is also a kind of Moral Dissonance or Double Standard that can occur within a country between different sports. If it is a sport that your country is traditionally expected to do well at because they have a history of gold medals, then anything less than first may be regarded as a failure; whereas a competitor in a sport that has no national hype is likely to be lauded as a hero if he or she unexpectedly wins a medal for that sport, or even if he or she just wins a place in the top ten/finals for that sportnote .
    • This was evident in the American coverage of the 2014 Sochi Games. The Russian opening ceremony showed the Soviet era as a Golden Age, but the American commentators kept pointing out all of the political repression that went on during the time.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!: Two sports being introduced for the 2020 Olympics? Skateboarding and surfing.
  • What an Idiot!: Nancy Kerrigan being a Sore Loser after losing the gold to Oksana Baiul in the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Since the ceremony was taking more time than expected and there were rumors about the rather tearful Baiul applying more make-upnote , Kerrigan started whining off-stage about Baiul being a crybaby...and was caught on tape. DUH, "America's Sweetheart".
    • After all the controversy surrounding the Russian doping scandal, which resulted in the Russians not even being allowed to compete under their own flag in 2018...two Russians, Nadezhda Sergeeva in bobsledding and Alexander Krushelnitsky in curling, were still caught doping, causing both of them to be disqualified, the mixed-doubles curling team to be stripped of their bronze medal, and costing the Russian delegation any chance of being allowed to enter the closing ceremony under their own flag.
  • What the Hell, Player?: The IOC to any Olympian who is caught cheating or admits to cheating. If drugs are involved, the World Anti-Doping Agency will get involved too.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/OlympicGames