Interesting Facts About the Olympics

Since the very first official Olympic games were held in 1896, they’ve been an exciting part of the human experience.

You’ve likely cheered on the US athletes during the summer and winter games, but there’s so much more to the Olympics that you probably don’t know. So, we’ve rounded up some fun and interesting facts about the Olympics for you. Enjoy!

Fact #1

The first official Olympic games in 1896 involved athletes from these countries: Greece, the USA, Germany, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Austria, Australia, Denmark and Switzerland.

Fact #2

The Olympic mascots are designed by the host country to represent a virtue or cultural trait of the host country and the event.

Fact #3

From 1912-1948, artists participated in the Olympics: Painters, sculptors, architects, writers, and musicians competed for medals in their respective fields.

Fact #4

Until the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, only three modern Olympic Games had been cancelled. The games were cancelled due to World War I (1916) and World War II (1940, 1944).

Fact #5

Ever seen Olympians biting their medals during the awards ceremony and wondered why they do that? Well, it harks back to ages past, where merchants would check a coin was indeed the precious metal they required and not a lead forgery. A lead coin would leave teeth marks, while a gold coin would not.

Fact #6

The 2012 London Games were the first Olympics in which all participating countries sent female athletes.

Fact #7

The six colors on the Olympic flag – blue, yellow, black, green, red, and the white background – were chosen because every nation’s flag contains at least one of them.

Fact #8

Young people were allowed to compete in the Olympics until 1997 when the International Olympic Committee ensured only those above the age of 16 could compete.

The youngest Olympian in the modern era is Greek gymnast Dimitrios Loundras, who competed in the 1896 Athens Olympics at the age of 10.

Other young Olympian facts: At age 13, springboard diver Marjorie Gestring is the youngest female individual gold medalist in history, while 14-year-old Kusuo Kitamura (swimming) is the youngest male individual gold medalist.

Fact #9

The unlit Olympic torch has been taken to space several times.

Fact #10

Abebe Bikila won the Olympic marathon at the Rome Olympic Games in 1960. Amazingly he did it without the benefit of footwear. Running barefoot for the painstaking 26-mile run, Bikila became the first African in history to win a gold medal.

Fact #11

The official languages of the games are English and French, complemented by the official language of the host country.

Fact #12

Athletes in the ancient Olympic Games competed in the nude.

Fact #13

Only one person has ever won gold medals during the Summer and Winter Olympics. American Eddie Eagan has this distinction. In 1920, Eagan took home gold in boxing. He later earned a gold medal at the 1932 Lake Placid Games in the team bobsled event.