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  • Accidental Athlete: In Paris 1900, the Dutch rowing team brought a French boy to replace their too-heavy coxswain. They won gold, but to this day no one knows who the kid was.
  • Action Prologue: In a way, the football/soccer tournaments always have games played before the opening ceremony to fit the schedule. The continued growth of the Winter Games saw this start for them in 2014, as well.
  • Always Male: Gradually being averted as women's sports are being added, including boxing in London 2012 and ski jumping in Sochi 2014. Nordic combined was to have been added in Beijing 2022, but was canceled (for the time being). Greco-Roman wrestling is one of the events still for men only. In addition, the IOC later announced that it would suspend nations that forbid women from participating.
    • In London 2012, Saudi Arabia, Brunei and Qatar broke long-standing traditions and fielded women for the first time, contributing to every delegation having both male and female athletes. (But in at least one country's case, it had to be an Enforced Trope, due to the threat of suspension.)
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    • Politics aside, artistic gymnastics 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 events in artistic gymnastics alluded to above are the balance beam and uneven bars. Rhythmic gymnastics is a women-only discipline. Also, synchronized swimming and softball.
  • Assumed Win: A big part of the reason that McKayla Maroney's second-place finish on vault in the 2012 Games was such a bitter pill for her to swallow was that virtually everyone expected her to win the event easily, especially after her performance in the team final a few days earlier.
  • The Atoner: Irish showjumper Cian O'Connor, whose gold in Athens 2004 was stripped after his horse failed a dope test, returned in London 2012 to take the bronze on a different horse.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: It seems that most recent opening and/or closing ceremonies would feature giant puppets.
    • The ceremonies of Sochi 2014 featured three animatronic puppets of its mascots, the Bear, the Hare and the Snow Leopard.
    • London 2012's opening ceremonies featured a "nightmare sequence" with a group of children being attacked by puppets of famous villains from British literature such as Voldemort and Captain Hook.
    • Vancouver 2010's opening ceremony featured a huge bear made of lights, and its closing ceremony topped it with giant inflatable beavers and Mounties.
    • Atlanta 1996's opening had a giant thunderbird that represented The American Civil War and the destruction wrought thereby, especially noteworthy since Atlanta was the only city razed to the ground during the war as part of Union general William Tecumesh Sherman's "March to the Sea".
    • The conclusion for the opening ceremonies of Lillehammer 1994 featured a gigantic egg which became a globe and hatched a glittering dove, as thousands of silver dove-shaped balloons were released.
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    • Munich 1972 had 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 2,000 feet) long. Piene has installed different versions of these lovely things all over the world.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • One 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 stadiums; many such facilities lay neglected or fall into ruin all over the world. Beijing's National Stadium hasn't had any real tenants since the 2008 Summer Games, although it has hosted several recent Supercoppa Italiana games (a pre-season football/soccer game between the champions of Italy's Serie A league and Coppa Italia tournament), hosted 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 most North American cities, which either used preexisting facilities or had the infrastructure and sports franchises to occupy the facilities long after the Games have ended. For instance, in Atlanta, the Olympic Village became Georgia Tech dormitories, and the Olympic Stadium was designed from the get-go to be reconfigured into Turner Field for baseball's Atlanta Braves. After the Braves left Turner Field, Georgia State University in turn acquired the stadium and reconfigured it anew for its Panthers college football team.
    • Also averted by Munich's Olympiastadion, still standing in all its absurd balletlike grace.
    • London was determined to avert this fate, with its main Olympic Stadium initially designed in such a way that it could easily be converted into a more practical 25,000-seater stadium once the games were over. However, East London's top-flight football/soccer club West Ham United, currently of the English Premier League, moved in for the 2016-2017 season, the stadium was only downsized to 60,000, and with the athletics track still intact (the lower stands were reconfigured to be movable), London Stadium, as it is now called, was able to host the World Championships in Athletics and its disability counterpart, the World Para Athletics Championships, in 2017.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning: The medal ceremony is always excellent.
    • In the closing ceremonies, pride of place is given to medals ceremonies for men's marathon at the Summer edition and men's 50-kilometer mass-start cross-country skiing, even when these sports aren't always the very last events held, such as in Rio 2016, which ended with the men's basketball final between the USA and Serbia.
  • 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.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The IOC representatives from Germany wanted a Berlin Games that were better than the 1932 Games they had just seen. The 1936 Games were indeed held in Berlin... after Adolf Hitler, not known for his modesty, was installed as Chancellor the year after Los Angeles. Avery Brundage, a supporter of Hitler's regime at the time, continued Hitler's tradition of making each subsequent Games more grandiose than the last, a tradition which continues to this day... and, as noted elsewhere, has caused severe problems in some host cities afterwards which have been known to take years to recover from.
    • Since then, the IOC has gone back to L.A. twice - for 1984 when the city was the only bidder and by awarding it the 2028 games outside the normal bid process when they were one of two bidders for 2024, as a Reset Button when the Games had gotten *too* grandiose and nobody but the world's most putrid dictators were interested in bidding.
  • 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 made no attempts to hide the fact that they were 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. In 2015, an NPR journalist discussing Boston's bid to host the 2024 Olympics opined that it was akin to "bidding to host an epidemic".
  • 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.
    • Also: The first gold medal at Rio 2016 was won by American shooter Virginia Thrasher, and its last was won by the American men's basketball team.
  • 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 an Olympics or World Championships, 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.)
  • Broken Pedestal: One of the people interviewed for Real Sports' Olympic episode was a former athlete who went to work for the IOC. Her enthusiasm was dimmed when she learned just how corrupt the Committee is.
  • 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 mocked 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; the closest it got was Athens, about 60 miles/100 km away).
  • 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.
  • Cartoon Creature: Some Olympic mascots are so abstract it's hard to tell what they actually are. The most blatant one is Izzy from Atlanta 1996, whose species is classified as a "Whatizit" (his own animated special implies they are anthropomorphic Olympic torches). The Rio 2016 mascots, Vinicius and Tom, are downright mish-mashes of Brazilian fauna and flora.
  • 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).
  • 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. When the Olympics return to L.A. in 2028, the Coliseum will again host the aforementioned events, although it will share the opening and closing ceremonies with the Rams' and Chargers' new stadium in Inglewood (set to open in 2020).
  • Cool Old Guy: 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.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: 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 women's ski jumping debuted in the Sochi 2014 games.
    • Furthermore, along with its main rival organization organization FIFA, the sheer amount of bribes that a candidate-host city is required to pay to secure a vote in their favor has reached memetic status. For their 1998 Winter's Olympics bid, the City of Nagano calculated that it spent $4.5 million dollars in entertainment for the IOC members.
  • 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.
    • Reforms instituted after that scandal have not solved the problem, as the 2012 games saw some extremely questionable decisions. What's worse, some of the worst decisions came in favor of Azerbaijani boxers mere weeks after English newspapers exposed a direct bribery for Gold Medals scandal they initiated. NBC's commentator Teddy Atlas spent much of the Olympics openly trashing the judges for ruining the sport.
    • At the 2016 games, this was still a problem. Several judges made very controversial decisions, most notably in the bout between Michael Conlan and Vladimir Nikitin, where Conlan dominated the fight, but the decision was awarded to Nikitin, guaranteeing him a bronze medal. To add insult to injury, Nikitin withdrew from the tournament due to injuries sustained in the bout.
    • In the 1968 Olympics, two decisions of this type knocked Czechoslovak gymnast Věra Čáslavská down to silver medal position on the balance beam and put her in a tie for the gold on floor rather than giving her the victory outright; the latter was especially controversial and shocking because the judges retroactively boosted the score of another gymnast to the exact number needed to match Čáslavská. In both cases, the decisions were to the benefit of Soviet gymnasts, intensifying the sense that Čáslavská, an outspoken opponent of the Soviet regime, was intentionally hindered for political reasons.
  • Credits Montage: Most Olympic TV broadcasters do this whenever the Games come to an end, showing the event's biggest moments alongside the names of the people who worked to help them be televised. NBC is especially famous for this. Check out their montage for the 1988 Games in Seoul...which last OVER 23 MINUTES!
  • 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 men's 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 .... unbelievable". Lord Sebastian Coe, member of the House of Lords in British Parliament, President of the London Organizing Committee of Olympic Games and himself a veteran Olympic gold medalist (1500 meters in Moscow 1980 and Los Angeles 1984), commented, "I think the expression is Ippon."
    • The Fierce Five didn't just win the women's team gold medal in artistic gymnastics in 2012 — 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.
      • The U.S. women's gymnastics team repeated the feat in 2016 (with Raisman and Gabby Douglas returning from 2012) - they were almost 9 full points ahead of the second-place team. To put this into perspective, scoring for women's gymnastics usually comes down to the hundredths place decimal point.
      • A similar event occurred in the individual all-around, with American Simone Biles winning the gold medal by more than two points over Raisman, who in turn took the silver about a point and a half ahead of bronze medalist Aliya Mustafina of Russianote . For comparison, Raisman had a higher margin of victory over Mustafina than Mustafina did over the tenth place finisher (let alone fourth through ninth), and Biles beat Raisman by even more. What's more, the only thing that kept it from being an even more complete blow-out was the rules that limit individual finals to two gymnasts per country — reigning champion Douglas had the third highest all-around score in qualifications, less than half a point behind Raisman and more than a point ahead of the next-highest qualifier (Rebeca Andrade of Brazil), but was knocked out of the final due to the two-per-country rule. If Douglas had been permitted to compete alongside Biles and Raisman and had hit her routines without major errors, the United States would likely have completely swept the podium.
    • Going back to an earlier era in gymnastics, many fans believed and continue to believe that Czechoslovak gymnast Věra Čáslavská should have completely swept the individual gold medals (something no gymnast has ever been able to do; Čáslavská's is the only case in which anyone argues that someone should have), and failed to do so only because the judges blatantly favored the Soviet gymnasts (see Crack Defeat), making several controversial decisions that favored the Soviets at Čáslavská's expense. Even with this, she won four gold medals (albeit one of them in a tie rather than outright) and a silver.
    • In most swimming races the difference between first and second is milliseconds and then there's Katie Ledecky winning by 12 whole seconds.
  • 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.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Plenty to choose from, but the 1992 Olympics provided the former Trope Namer in Robert Změlík 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)."
    • One of the most impressive cases might be the women's Alpine Skiing's Super Giant slalom in Pyeongchang in 2018, where favorite Anna Veith, from Austria, was beaten for 0.01 sec by Ester Ledecká, of the Czech Republic. Granted, Ledecká was a world champion herself...but in snowboard. Absolutely no one expected her to get a medal, even less a gold one, and all TV channels were caught off guard and missed her winning run - she started once all the favorites had already finished, and most channels had moved on towards other events.
    • In 2012, most gymnastics fans expected that American gymnasts Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas would be the two Americans who would advance to the all-around final (only two athletes per country can advance to the final), with their teammate Aly Raisman not really expected to challenge for an all-around spot, as many saw her as more of a specialist. But come the qualification round, Raisman ended up getting the single best all-around score of any US gymnast (second-highest overall behind Russia's Viktoria Komova), beating out both of her teammates and bumping Wieber from the final due to the aforementioned two-per-country rule.
  • Dark Secret: From Cracked: 5 Things They Don't Want You to Know About the Olympics (from 2012). 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, in London 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...
    • HBO's Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel did an entire hour on the dark side of the Olympics. In addition to the above accusations of bribery, corruption, human rights violations, and bad architecture they go so far as to accuse the IOC of aiding dictatorships as they will A) go along with the corruption and B) will use their police powers to get the games done no matter the human cost. After outlining how China illegally and violently seized property to build the Olympic park, arrested and "disappeared" all the human rights lawyers in the country before the games began, and put a Paralympic athlete under house arrest to ensure that no one would know he lost his legs after a tank ran him over during the Tiananmen Square protest they note that Beijing had just been awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beijing, like the southern resort town of Sochi, isn't exactly a Winter sports Mecca....
    • Pretty much everything associated with today's Olympics can be traced back to the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany — the torch relay from Greece to the host city (to show the Germans' Aryan connections), out-sized building projects (and accompanying construction mishaps) because Hitler thought the original plans weren't grand enough, elaborate opening and closing ceremonies (emphasis on "elaborate"; see below for the origin of the ceremonies themselves), and "cleaning up" the Olympic venues by getting rid of undesirable people and keeping everyone under surveillance. Berlin also got the next Winter Olympics four years later after Japan canceled due to other commitments.
    • And many of the things associated with the Games that didn't trace back to the Nazi Olympics originated in the 1906 Intercalated Games, which the IOC no longer recognizes. The requirement that all athlete registration go through the national Olympic committees? Check. The Olympic Village? Check. A separate opening ceremony? Check. The parade of nations, with each country entering as a unit under its national flag? Check. Separate closing ceremony? Check. The raising of national flags for the medalists at each event's award ceremony? Check.
  • Determinator:
    • American gymnast Kerri Strug landed badly and severely damaged her ankle on her first vault during the final rotation of the final day of the 1996 team competition. To make matters worse, the United States had only a very narrow lead over 2nd-place Russia, and Strug was the last American woman to go after all of her teammates had been docked points for not landing cleanly. In other words, coach Bela Karolyi believed Strug had to take another vault - with a third-degree lateral sprain and severe tendon damage - and made a perfect landing for the US to win.note  Strug explains here and here, with more background. She took the second vault, landed briefly on both feet and immediately pulled up the injured foot, hopping to turn around for the salute to the judges before dropping to the floor.note  The image of Kerri sinking to her hands and knees in agony and then Karolyi carrying her to the podium are some of the most iconic and lump-in-the-throat-inducing images of the entire '96 games, if not all of women's gymnastics.
    • 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.
    • The 2016 refugee team. Of note is swimmer Yusra Mardini, formerly of Syria. From The New York Times:
      Last August, Mardini and her sister Sarah fled war-torn Syria and embarked on a harrowing, monthlong journey through Lebanon, Turkey and Greece, up through the Balkans and Central Europe, to Germany, narrowly dodging capture and death. When their crammed dinghy broke down between Turkey and Greece, she and her sister, also a swimmer, jumped into the water and helped guide the boat to safety.
    • Back when boxing still had a bronze medal fight, in 1948, the Argentinian managers and medical staff tried convincing Mauro Cia not to enter the third place bout - the previous fights had given him two black eyes, bruises in the face, and a hand so swollen he couldn't put the glove, let alone do the opening handshake. Cia persisted, and by the third round a hard punch of his made the opponent crash to the ground (and the attempt to rise failed because he broke his ankle in the fall).
    • Cuban gymnast Annia Portuondo qualified to the 1996 Olympics, but Cuba declined to send her to the Games, saying her performance wasn't good enough to be worth spending the money. Portuondo subsequently retired, married an American coach she'd met while competing, and moved to the United States where she began a new career as a coach — until, five years after her retirement, she read an article about a former teammate making a comeback and was inspired to do the same. She was forced to wait a full year to compete because Cuba refused to waive the one-year waiting period for gymnasts who change countries, and she subsequently had to miss the 2003 World Championships (which was to have been the first major meet of her comeback) with a torn ACL, but came back from the injury in time to join the selection process for the 2004 Olympic team. Eight years after the disappointment of 1996, Portuondo, now going by her married name Annia Hatch, finally got to the Olympics, and came away with two silver medals.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: One Boris Onishchenko, a Ukrainian fencer who was a member of 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.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: While it's only a tiny percentage of the total number of Olympic medals, there have been to date 148 cases of Olympic medal winners being disqualified and having their medals taken away (141 of which were for use of banned substancesnote ). In all but a handful of cases, the standings have been adjusted in keeping with the disqualification and the medals re-awarded accordingly. note  Whether or not this is undone in the event that the disqualification is reversed varies on a case-by-case basis; in some cases, the IOC fully reinstates the original standings and re-distributes the medals to their original recipients, while in others they re-award the medal to the disqualified athlete while otherwise allowing the modified result to stand, meaning the reinstated athlete is officially considered to share the medal spot with the athlete who was bumped up by their disqualification.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: The IOC is very protective of its trademarks. Word is it even targeted the game Legend of the Five Rings because of superficial similarities to the five Olympic Rings.
    • Real Sports noted that athletes must Be Careful What You Say (and type) during the games as, per the IOC contract, they can't use the words "Olympics", "gold", "silver", "bronze", and "probably 'summer' too". They also have to be very careful about what they say and wear as their sponsors can get very snippy (Michael Phelps' headphones aren't covered in American flag gaffer tape because he's patriotic).
    • This can even extend to, for lack of a better word, civilians. Retail establishments have very firm guidelines on what can and can't be used in sales, advertisements, and displays, while minor events are not allowed to call themselves 'the ____ Olympics', even if it's something that in no way can be confused with these Olympics...such as knitting.
  • 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".
    Rio de Janeiro 2016: Children carrying dove-shaped kites running alongside Kipchoge Keino, Kenyan runner and 4-time medalist (a gold and a silver in both 1968 and 1972) and the very first recipient of the Olympic Laurel award for promoting education, culture, development and peace through sport.
    Pyeongchang 2018: More than 1,200 people, about 1,000 of them residents of Pyeongchang's home of Gangwon Province, held candles and formed the shape of a dove.
  • Downer Ending: The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany were suspended for a day 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 teammate Astrid Jacobsen's brother, 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).
    • Rio's closing ceremony had a part dedicated to "remembrance", which they've said will be a regular part of closing ceremonies.
    • American gymnast Aly Raisman set her 2012 floor routine to traditional Jewish tune "Hava Nagila" partly to honor her own heritage, but also as a tribute to the victims of the Munich massacre.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first games were a fairly low-key event. And then Hitler got involved.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: In Rio 2016's opening ceremony, American commentators Meredith Vieira and Hoda Kotb were very much enjoying the sight of Tongan flagbearer Pita Taufatofua (who competed in taekwondo), who carried the flag in native dress with his muscular bare chest oiled up and glistening. Since it's usually the female athletes that are drooled over, Taufatofua became an internet sensation, gaining thousands of new followers on his Instagram account within the hour.
    • Postscript: Taufatofua qualified for Pyeongchang 2018 in cross-country skiing, and again went bare-chested during the opening ceremony, this time in freezing weather!
  • 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 was painful on the male sale, as the country who won five editions of The World Cup instead got 3 silvers and 2 bronzes before finally winning the gold at home (against Germany, the only Cup champion who never won the Olympics). The women, however, continue to never win the big one, with two silvers and three fourth places, along with a quarterfinal upset.
    • Rugby returned to Olympics in 2016 but world rugby powerhouse New Zealand didn't win gold. The men got knocked out in the quarter finals by rugby-mad Fijinote , who went on to win the gold for the country's first medal ever. The women did better: they won silver after losing the final to perennial rivals Australia. However, it should be noted that the rugby at the Olympics is the shorter and faster sevens version, rather than the traditional 15-a-side version New Zealand dominates.
    • Figure skater Michelle Kwan—justifiably considered one of the greatest of all time—turned in uncharacteristically mediocre performances at both of her Olympic appearances, resulting in silver and bronze medals, respectively, in 1998 and 2002 when she was the favorite for the gold. This is despite a magnificent career that included 9 US Championships (12 medals overall), and 5 World Championships (9 medals overall).
    • Figure skater Kurt Browning came into the 1992 and 1994 Olympics as the reigning world champion and projected winner. . . and tanked both times.
    • British marathoner Paula Radcliffe failed to win a medal of any color in her four Olympics, despite numerous other titles to her name.
    • It's a known trend in women's gymnastics that the gymnast who wins the All-Around at the World Championships the year before the Olympics often fails to win the Olympic title, even if they're still in peak shape. There have, however, been a couple of exceptions — Lilia Podkopayeva won the World title in 1995 and the Olympic title in 1996, and Simone Biles did the same in 2015 and 2016, and, after winning the World title in 2019, was heavily favored to repeat the feat in 2020 (Biles has taken first place in every single all-around competition she's competed in since mid-2013) until the Games were bumped back to 2021 (she is still favored to win, but it won't be the year after a World Championships victory).note 
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: It should come as no surprise that this happens in the Olympic villages during the Games, to the point that the shipment of 100,000 condoms to Vancouver in 2010 wasn't enough, and in London 2012, the gay male hookup app Grindr crashed shortly after the athletes arrived. Rio 2016 had enough condoms thrown down the toilet the Olympic village's sewers nearly clogged!
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: Ice skating, gymnastics (at least the women's), synchronized swimming, opening and closing ceremonies. Brazilian Paralympian Terezinha Guilhermina seems to think so too.
  • 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 annulled (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.
    • Not always—depending on the venue, speedskating events are outdoors too.
  • Fan of Underdog: Both the on-site audience (particularly in 2016, as Brazilians tend to support the unexpected) and the broadcast coverage (who likes to showcase Determinators who display the Olympic spirit to the extreme).
  • 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.
    • Japanese Paralympian Maya Nakanishi was unable to get funding from the Japanese IPC to pay for her to get to the 2012 games so she decided to pose for a nude calendar to raise the funds herself.
    • From the late 1980s on, female track and field uniforms have started tending towards the Stripperific, with lots of Bare Your Midriff in effect. Some male competitors have taken to ripping their own shirts off in celebration of victory. So you basically have a lot of people built like Greek deities showing a lot of hot sweaty flesh off on camera.
    • Women's beach volleyball has their participants play in a bikini (unless it's cloudy and cold). So, in every game, you watch four women with toned abs, hips and legs dive, jump, sweat and remark their muscles when they feel triumphant over the win of a set/match/long point. No wonder a lot of spectators are just there for the fanservice.
    • The swimming events, especially the men, who are always clad in barely-there speedos.
    • The womens's gymnastics events are several days worth of the most flexible and toned young women on Earth running around, flexing, jumping, and dancing in tight leotards. TV Tropes encourages viewers to make their own judgments on the subject matter.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Both the Nagano and Beijing mascots do this, though with first syllables instead of first letters: Nagano's Sukki, Nokki, Likki, and Tsukki phonetically make up their group name, the Snowlets; while Beijing's Beibei, Jingjing, Huanhuan, Yingying, and Nini add up to "Beijing huanying ni", or "Beijing welcomes you".
  • Gaiden Game: The 1906 Games, which are considered unofficial by the IOC.
  • 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 traditionally the man's marathon, which usually ends at the Olympic Stadium.
    • However, this wasn't the case in 2016. The last event in Rio before the closing ceremony was the men's basketball final.
  • Green Aesop: The Rio 2016 Games strived to promote very eco-friendly messages; not at all unexpected of the country home to much of the Amazon rainforest.
  • Groin Attack: "Loinsanity! There is an epidemic of groin-punching in Olympic Men's Basketball."
  • Guinness Episode: A real-life example, of sorts; it's rather common for world records in various events to be broken during the Olympic Games. And at minimum, every athlete comes in hoping to be declared officially the best in the world at their sport.
  • 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).note 
    • 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.
    • Lithuanian basketball great Arvydas Sabonis also qualified in at least one, and possibly two, of his three Olympic appearances. As a young and very mobile player for his size (7'3"/2.21 m), he led the Soviet team to gold in 1988. However, by the time he appeared for his once-again-independent homeland in 1992 (picking up bronze), he had lost virtually all of his mobility to injuries. By 1995, when he joined the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, the team doctor told management that his leg X-rays would have qualified him for a handicapped parking space (the Blazers signed him anyway). He nonetheless played with Team Lithuania in 1996, picking up a second bronze.
    • 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).
  • 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.
  • Iconic Logo: The five rings, which represent the five competing continents (North and South America are considered a single continent for the logo's purposes).
  • The Ingenue: Enforced in women's gymnastics and figure skating. There's always one girl who becomes a media darling expected to win a stack of medals in her debut Games (and usually does to some degree). By the next Olympics, she may still be present but won't do as well since competitors in these events tend to age out quickly, and by that point there will be another new it-girl on the scene. Subverted for women's gymnastics in 2021 because Simone Biles, the American star of the 2016 Games, remains the center of attention and has only gotten better in the intervening years.
  • 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.
    • Chinese gymnast Shang Chunsong was born into extreme poverty and suffered malnutrition during her early years that left her small even by the standards of Chinese gymnasts, but with the help of her family, she managed to overcome these challenges to become an Olympic-caliber athlete, and not only made the Chinese women's gymnastics team for the 2016 Olympics, but was named team captain by her teammates. At the Olympics, despite being ill with a fever for several days, she helped the team to a bronze medal in the team final and just barely missed out on a medal in the individual all-around finalnote . For her part, Shang has demonstrated a commitment to using the money she makes from gymnastics to repay her family for the sacrifices they made to get her there.
  • 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.
  • 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 figure skater (and fellow Dancing with the Stars champion, along with Apolo Ohno) Kristi Yamaguchi, Chinese-American figure 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 (and because figuring out how the Soviet qualifications would be handled/distributed across the various countries would have been a huge mess). 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.
    • In the 2016 Summer games, 10 athletes who had been exiled or fled from their countries of origin (five South Sudanese, two Syrians, two from the DR of the Congo and one Ethiopian) competed as Team Refugees, which was split off from the IOA to draw attention to the worldwide rise in displaced persons. Like the Independent athletes whose countries lack an Olympic committee, the Refugees' team members completed under the Olympic flag.
  • Music at Sporting Events:
    • The official anthem of the Games is the Olympic Hymn, written by Kostis Palamas and composed by Spyridon Samaras, first played at Athens 1896 but not used regularly until Rome 1960. It is used in the opening ceremonies, when the Olympic Flag is raised, and at the closing ceremonies, as it is lowered, as well as in medal ceremonies where the gold-winning athlete(s) do not have their own NOC (either as independents or because their original NOC is serving suspension).
    • Unofficially, the most famous piece of music associated with the Games is the "Olympic Fanfare and Theme" by John Williams, first used as the theme of Los Angeles 1984. Other themes for Games held in the United States are "Summon the Heroes" (Atlanta 1996) and "Call of the Champions" (Salt Lake 2002), as well as "Olympic Spirit" for NBC's broadcast of Seoul 1988. For his contribution to music at sports he was awarded the Olympic Order in 2003, a special medal for people who contributed to the development of modern sport.
    • The pre-Williams Olympic fanfare heard on ABC and NBC's coverage of the Games beginning in Innsbruck 1964 was Leo Arnaud's "Bugler's Dream" from his Charge Suite. Williams includes a slightly fancier version of this in his composition. It is very difficult to find Arnaud's original version online today.
    • Beijing 2008's athletes parade features a medley of international music representing the five continents—a Chinese orchestra (Asia), Scottish bagpipers (Europe), Aboriginal musicians (Oceania), South African drummers (Africa), and a Mexican mariachi band (Americas).
    • 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 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.
    • Sochi 2014 features DJ Leonid Rudenko playing remixes of notable pieces of Russian music throughout the athletes' parade.
    • The Rio 2016 arena DJs also frequently exploited this—Usain Bolt's victory warranted "Usain Bolt The Puma", "Champion", and two Jamaican reggae songs; Egyptian athletes were greeted by a local song about Pharaohs; and overtimes tried to make the crowd optimistic with "Don't Stop Believin'".
    • Pyeongchang 2018's athletes parade also features a lot of EDM renditions of popular Korean classics, beginning with "Hand in Hand" by Koreana, the official theme song of Seoul 1988, and ending with the two Koreas marching together to the tune of "Arirang", a folk song considered the unofficial national anthem of the Korean peninsula. In between are hits from the K-Pop surge of The New '10s, such as "Gangnam Style" by PSY, "Likey" by Twice, "Fantastic Baby" by Big Bang, "DNA" by BTS, and "Red Flavor" by Red Velvet.


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