This is the first installment of a series of blogs I intend to publish about the Summer Olympics. This installment will include an overview of the SO, a brief history, and a compendium of fun facts with respect to the Games.
- The 2016 SO, aka the XXXI Olympiad, will take place in Rio de Janeiro on August 5-21. The other finalists were Tokyo, Madrid and Chicago. Some or all of these cities will likely be chosen to host a SO prospectively.
- The SO have been held every four years at rotating sites since the first modern Olympiad in 1896, except for during WWI (1916) and WWII (1940 and 1944).
- The 2016 SO will include a record 10,500 athletes from over 200 countries. They will compete in 28 sports at 38 venues. Although Rio will host the lion’s share of the events, Sao Paulo, Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Manaus and Salvador will each host some soccer matches.
- Normally, at least one new sport is added each Olympiad. This time, the new sports will be golf and rugby sevens.
- Some of the facilities have not yet been completed. Hopefully, that will not be an issue during the Games.
- Rio is the third city in the Southern Hemisphere (after Melbourne, 1956, and Sydney, Australia, 2000) and the first South American city to host a SO. In addition, Brazil is the first Portuguese-speaking country to do so.
- This is the first time the SO will be held during the host country’s winter.
- London has hosted the most SO of any city (3). The US has hosted the most of any country (4).
- The only country to have won at least one gold medal at every SO is…….? See below.
- Previous Games have not been without scandal , controversy, and other problems, but these are the first I can recall where they occurred BEFOREHAND – political instability, corruption, Zika virus, polluted water and Russian athletes’ being banned due to PEDs. Let’s hope these do not overshadow the Games, themselves.
- Primarily in recognition of the considerable number of refugees currently in Europe, for the first time, a limited number of unaffiliated athletes, called “refugee athletes,” will be allowed to compete as individuals, i. e. not under the umbrella of a national Olympic committee. It remains to be seen if any of them will actually win any medals, but it will make for a powerful human interest story. As I write this, “clean” Russian athletes will not be permitted to compete under this provision.
- The largest delegation of athletes will be the approximately 550 from the US. The fewest will be one, from a few countries.
- The modern Olympics were the brain-child of one Pierre de Coubertin, whose goal was to promote greater international harmony through athletic competition. Athens was chosen as the initial site because ancient Greece was the birthplace of the original Olympic Games.
- Only amateur athletes were eligible, and only men. They were modest in scope with only 250 competitors in 42 events. No medals were awarded until 1904.
As I said, this is the first of several blogs I will be posting on the SO. There have been various criticisms of the Games in recent years, such accusations of PEDs, corruption, and “shamamateurism,” but, in my opinion, they remain a very entertaining competition replete with human interest stories and memorable moments. The only negatives are the results “spoilers” in this day and age of the 24-hour news cycle and the internet and the plethora of commercials on tv.
Quiz answer: Great Britain. The US boycotted the 1980 Games in Moscow.
Let the games begin!