Here are 40 interesting facts about Olympics.

1-5 Olympic Facts


1. In South Korea, men who win Olympic medals do not have to participate in the two-year long mandatory military service. – Source

2. In the month before the ancient Olympics, no wars were permitted so that spectators could travel from across Greece unharmed. – Source

3. In the 1912 Olympics, a marathon runner quit and went home to Japan without telling officials and was considered a missing person in Sweden for 50 years. In 1966, he was invited to complete the marathon. His time: 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours, 32 minutes and 20.379 seconds. – Source

4. A woman named Margaret Abbott competed in and won a golf tournament in Paris. After her death, it was discovered that this tournament was part of the poorly-organized 1900 Olympics. She never knew she was an Olympian. – Source

5. An Ethiopian Olympic runner couldn’t find a comfortable pair of shoes, so he ran the 1960 Olympic Marathon in Rome barefoot, finished first, and set a new World Record. – Source

6-10 Olympic Facts


6. A Japanese gymnast, Shun Fujimoto, once broke his knee at the Olympics in 1976 but didn’t tell anyone and performed miraculously despite his injury, winning his team the gold medal. – Source

7. The marathon of the 1904 Olympics had many bizarre events including someone driving to the finish line and pretending to win, someone winning by using rat poison as a stimulant, someone taking a nap and still finishing 4th, and someone being chased a mile off course by aggressive dogs. – Source

8. Ross Rebagliati, the first man to win a Gold medal in Snowboarding in the Olympics only to be disqualified for use of marijuana, now owns a medical marijuana business called Ross’ Gold. – Source

9. Pistol dueling with wax bullets was a popular pastime in the early 20th century and even featured as a sport in the 1908 Summer Olympics. – Source

10. The USA won the last ever Olympic gold medal for rugby in 1924 and are therefore technically still reigning champions. – Source

11-15 Olympic Facts

white australian olympic medal

Image credit: Riccardo Gazzaniga

11. The white Australian silver medalist, who stood with the two African-American sprinters giving the “black power” salute in the 1968 Olympics, was wearing a Civil Rights button to stand in solidarity with them and did so for the rest of his life despite being ostracized in his own country. – Source

12. The Nazi’s invented the Olympic Torch Relay. It was so successful, that the International Olympic Committee adopted it ever since. – Source

13. 26.5 million Canadians tuned into the gold medal final in men’s hockey during the 2010 Winter Olympics. That’s 80% of the entire country’s population. – Source

14. In 1968 Olympic long jumper Bob Beamon’s first attempt exceeded the limit of the official measuring equipment. It took over 15 minutes before a distance was posted, and only then did he realize he had broken the world record by nearly 2 feet (0.6m). – Source

15. MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) was an event at the ancient Olympics. It is called Pankration and is the only event that wasn’t reinstated with the creation of the modern Olympics. – Source

16-20 Olympic Facts


16. Czechoslovak runner Emil Zatopek decided to compete in the marathon in the 1952 Olympics, despite never having run that distance in his life. Zatopek asked fellow runner Jim Peters, who he was racing alongside if the pace was fast enough. When Peters said “no”, Zatopek sped up and won the race. – Source

17. Luxembourg’s gold medal at the 1952 Olympics was so unexpected that the organizers had neglected to give the band a score for their national anthem. The musicians “hurriedly improvised a tune which bore little resemblance to the Luxembourg anthem”. – Source

18. Usain Bolt ate 100 Chicken McNuggets a day for 10 days before the Beijing Olympics and eventually winning 3 gold medals. – Source

19. Betty Robinson, an Olympic runner, was involved in a plane crash in 1931 and was wrongly pronounced dead upon first being discovered. She spent 7 months in a coma and it took her 2 years to learn to walk normally again. In 1936, she returned to the US Olympic team and won gold in the relay. – Source

20. Liechtenstein and Haiti developed identical national flags independently of each other. No one realized until the two countries competed against each other in the 1936 Summer Olympics under the same flag. – Source

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Fact List, Sports,

Last Update: January 20, 2017