The Olympics are coming, the Olympics are coming! We’re under two weeks away from the opening ceremony of the XXX Olympiad in
London. I’ve always loved tuning into the games, be it summer or winter, and have some great memories attached to them. While Atlanta was hosting the 1996 summer games our family was hosting a Japanese exchange student, I remember watching events with her and cheering for members of both Team USA and Team Japan. In 2002 my sister had just been diagnosed with cancer when the Salt Lake City Olympics began, so she watched all the coverage while she was home from school and in the evenings we all watched together. In 2008 when Micheal Phelps won his record setting 8th gold during the Beijing games we were at a friends sister’s wedding; I remember being with a group of guests who moved to the sports bar down the hall from the reception to watch him swim in the men’s 4x100m medley relay and make history. When each games come to a close, I start looking forward to the next (less than 575 days to the winter games in Sochi!) but right now its all about London! So to share my love of the Olympics (and History) with you I’ve compiled some fun facts:
- The first Olympics were held in 776 BC in dedication to the Olympic gods. They continued for over 1100 years, when they were banned for being associated with a ‘pagan cult’.
- Any free Greek males could compete in the games, regardless of social status, but no ladies! Unmarried women were welcome to attend as spectators though and the priestess of fertility goddess Demeter even got VIP seats next to the stadium altar.
- The Olympic games as we know them were first held in Athens in 1896. 241 athletes from 14 countries competed in 43 events.
- “Olympiad” is actually a unit of time measuring four years and the Olympic games are held during the summer of the first year of the Olympiad. This is the 30th Olympiad, but not the 30th Olympic games: they were canceled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 because of World Wars I and II.
- London is the first city to host three Olympics, they previously hosted in 1908 and 1948.
- There will be 302 victory ceremonies for events in 26 different sports.
- At least 200 countries have qualified at least one athlete to participate in the games.
- With Saudi Arabia, Brunei Darussalam and Qatar sending female athletes to London this year, every National Olympic Committee will have been represented by women at the games. Watch for Bahiya Al-Hamad, competing for Qatar in shooting, to be carrying her country’s flag in the opening ceremony.
- Women will also be competing in every sport at the games for the first time in history.
To learn more about the Olympic Games check out olympic.org or london2012.com and be sure to tune in July 27 for the opening ceremony! (This nifty website can be helpful to figure out your local times for each event.)