20 Fun Facts About the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

Text reading "20 Fun Facts about the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games" with the Tokyo Olympic design on the right side and the five olympic rings sitting in the bottom right corner.

As the Olympic Games end their first full week of competition we thought it might be fun to look back at 20 fun facts to celebrate the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

  1. The first Olympic Games took place in the eighth-century b.c.e. In Olympia Greece. They were held every four years for the next twelve centuries until Emperor Theodosius I banned them in the fourth century. 
  2. The first modern Olympic village was constructed for the 1932 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, before that Olympians had cobbled together residential spaces and sometimes even had to pay to live there during the games. 
  3. The first Paralympic Games took place in Rome in 1960, designed to allow war veterans a chance to compete and rehabilitate. Before that, there were instances where physically disabled athletes competed in the Olympics themselves. 
  4. Ever wonder why you see Olympians biting their medals after they win? Well, it imitates an old practice where merchants would check if a coin was actually the precious metal they required and not a lead imitation. A lead coin would leave teeth marks, while a gold coin would not.
  5. Olympic medals are not made of gold but are finished with gold. They are mostly made of silver in this day and age. The last time they were made entirely of gold was in the 1904 Olympic Games.
  6. The first modern Olympics occurred in 1896 in Athens, Greece and the first Winter Olympics occurred in 1924 in Chamonix, France.
  7. Figure skating initially joined the list of Olympic events as a summer sport in 1908, officially switching to the Winter Olympics in 1924.
  8. Both the Summer and Winter Olympic games were held in the same year every four years until 1992 when the International Olympic Committee chose to alternate them, the next winter Olympics were held in 1994. 
  9. Since 1896 only three Olympic Games have been canceled, all due to world wars. World War I canceled the 1916 games, and World War II canceled both the 1940 and 1944 games. 
  10. The 2012 London Games were the first to have every participating country send female athletes, prompting some to call it the Equality Olympics. 
  11. In the opening ceremonies, the athlete procession always starts with Greece and ends with the host country, with the other teams going in alphabetical order based on the host country's native language. 
  12. The first televised Olympics occurred in 1960, in Rome. 
  13. The Torch Relay is not an ancient tradition and started with the 1936 Berlin Games. 
  14. The five Olympic rings represent the five major regions, Europe, Asia, the Americas, Africa and Oceania, with at least one color from the flag appearing on every country's flag.
  15. The 2008 Beijing Games had the most countries attend, with a record 204 Nations sending athletes.
  16. From 1921 - 1948 Artists also competed in the Olympics. Painters, sculptors, writers, architects and musicians all competed. They would create art focused on the sporting events happening at the same time. Now, these artists don’t compete but contribute to the design of stadiums, posters, medals and other Olympics memorabilia. 
  17. Until 1904, first, second and third place winners weren’t given medals but laurel headbands. Then, from 1904 to 1912 gold medals were made of solid gold and now are mostly silver coated in six grams of gold. 
  18. The longest-standing record for an Olympic game is still around more than 50 years later. Bob Bearman won the long jump in the 1968 Mexico City Games, setting a record at the same time. Bearman jumped 8.9 meters (29.2 feet).
  19. The host city gets to design each games’ medals. The medals must be at least 60 mm in diameter and 3 mm thick.
  20. The youngest Olympian ever was just ten years old and competed in the 196 Athens Games. The oldest Olympian to compete was Oscar Swahn at age seventy-two at the 1920 Antwerp games. 
  21. Bonus fact! The 2020 Tokyo Games were the first to be delayed.


Sam Dalton
Outreach Housing Ambassador