Interesting Facts About the Olympic Games

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge delivers ...Sports enthusiasts around the world flock to the Olympic Games or watch them on television. There is something about the anticipation of victory, the agony of defeat, and ability of the human spirit to overcome all odds, that attracts all ages and levels of sports fans. Here are a few interesting facts about these games you may not know.

The Olympic Games date back to ancient Greece, but the modern version began in 1894 when the International Olympic Committee was established. Over 200 world nations participate, and being an international event, global political conflicts influence the games. For example, the games were cancelled in 1916, 1940, and 1944 due to war. In 1980 and 1984, the Cold War resulted in limited international participation.

The location of the Olympics changes every four years. The host city is selected about seven years in advance so the necessary infrastructure can be constructed to support the athletes and spectators. Major world cities compete for the honor of hosting the Olympics. Some of the past host cities include London, Athens, Los Angeles, Lake Placid, Salt Lake City, Innsbruck, Barcelona, Nagano, and Calgary. Future host cities include Rio de Janeiro, Pyeongchang, and Sochi.

There are currently 26 sports included in the summer Olympics and 7 in the winter Olympics. The list of sports has changed over the decades. It continued to increase until a cap was established at 28 games. Only a handful of sports have been in place from the beginning. These include swimming, fencing, athletics, gymnastics, skiing, skating, and ice hockey. In order for a new sport to be added, it has to be approved by the Olympic committee at least seven years before competition begins.

Some notable Olympic gold medal winners include Michael Phelps, Larisa Latynina, Carl Lewis, and Mark Spitz. Michael Phelps currently holds the most gold medals with 14 won in swimming. He has also won two bronze medals for a total of 16. Larisa Latynina has the most total medals earned. She has been awarded 9 gold, 5 silver, and 4 bronze medals in gymnastics.

With each passing Olympic Games event, new records are set, new medals earned, and new athletes are catapulted to fame. Through their hard work and determination, these top athletes prove their worth to the world, and earn a place in the history books and our hearts.