20 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About The Olympics

The Olympic Games, often hailed as the greatest sporting event on Earth, have a legacy that spans over a century. While most of us are familiar with the athletic feats and iconic moments, there’s a treasure trove of lesser-known facts about the Olympics. In this article, we delve into 20 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About the Olympics that offer a unique perspective on the Games.

Table of Contents

Here Are The 20 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About the Olympics:

The Birth of the Olympics

1. Ancient Roots: The Olympics originated in ancient Greece around 776 BC and were held in Olympia. They were dedicated to the Greek god Zeus and featured events like running, long jump, and discus throw.

20 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About the Olympics
Metropolitan Museum Of Art

2. Humble Beginnings: In the early days, the Olympic champions received no medals. Instead, they were awarded olive wreaths and red ribbons, and they were considered heroes in their hometowns.

Modern-Day Olympics

3. Revival in 1896: The modern Olympics were revived by Pierre de Coubertin, a French educator, in 1896. The event took place in Athens, Greece, and featured 13 countries and 43 events.

4. Symbolic Rings: The five interlocking rings on the Olympic flag represent the five continents: Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania. The colors—blue, yellow, black, green, and red—were chosen because every nation’s flag contains at least one of these hues.

Unique Olympic Sports

5. Tug of War: Believe it or not, tug of war was an Olympic sport from 1900 to 1920. Teams of eight athletes would compete, with victory going to the side that pulled the other team six feet.

20 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About the Olympics

6. Live Pigeon Shooting: In the 1900 Paris Olympics, live pigeon shooting was part of the program. Over 300 pigeons were killed in the event, which led to outrage and its removal from future Games.

Unconventional Participants

7. Duke of Edinburgh: Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, competed in sailing for the Greek team in the 1960 Olympics. He was the only royal ever to participate in the Games.

8. Age Is No Barrier: The youngest Olympic athlete ever was Dimitrios Loundras, a Greek gymnast who participated in the 1896 Athens Games at the age of 10.

Medal Mysteries

9. Solid Gold Medals: In the early Olympics, winners received solid gold medals. Today, gold medals are primarily made of silver, with a thin layer of gold plating.

20 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About the Olympics

10. War and Medals: During World War II, many nations hid their Olympic medals to protect them from being confiscated. Some medals were even buried for safekeeping.

Political Statements

11. Protest on the Podium: In the 1968 Olympics, American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos famously raised their fists in a black power salute during the medal ceremony to protest racial discrimination.

12. Unified Korean Team: At the 2018 Winter Olympics, North and South Korea fielded a unified women’s ice hockey team, promoting peace and unity in a historic move.

Unusual Events

13. Solo Synchronized Swimming: Synchronized swimming is known for its graceful team routines, but in the 1984 Olympics, an individual synchronized swimming event was held.

20 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About the Olympics
View of the 1932 Olympic Art Exhibit | Pinterest

14. Art Competitions: From 1912 to 1948, the Olympics featured art competitions in categories like painting, sculpture, and literature, bridging the gap between sports and the arts.

Gender Milestones

15. Women in the Marathon: Women were first allowed to compete in the Olympic marathon in 1984. Prior to that, it was considered too strenuous for female athletes.

16. Transgender Athlete: In the 2004 Athens Olympics, transgender athlete Balian Buschbaum competed in the women’s pole vault event, sparking discussions about inclusivity in sports.

Olympic Diplomacy

17. Ping Pong Diplomacy: The 1971 World Table Tennis Championships in Japan paved the way for diplomatic relations between China and the United States, earning it the name “Ping Pong Diplomacy.”

20 Fun Facts You Didn't Know About the Olympics
Global Times

18. Olympic Truce: A tradition from ancient Greece, the Olympic Truce is still observed today. During the Games, a truce is called for all participating nations to promote peace.

The Cost of Hosting

19. Debt and Abandonment: Some Olympic host cities faced financial challenges after the Games. The 1976 Montreal Olympics left the city in debt for over 30 years, while the 2004 Athens Olympics led to the abandonment of many venues.

20. Economic Boon: On a positive note, hosting the Olympics can also bring economic benefits. The 1984 Los Angeles Olympics turned a profit and remains an example of a successful Games financially.


The Olympics are not just a celebration of athletic excellence but a stage for diplomacy, unity, and the human spirit. These were the 20 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About the Olympics which provide a glimpse into the rich tapestry of Olympic history, reminding us that beyond the medals and records, there are countless untold stories waiting to be explored. The next time you watch the Games, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the fascinating world behind the rings.

Also Read: 10 Indians Who Won Gold Medals at the Olympics

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