Seven Things You Never Knew About The Olympics

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Although the 2016 Olympics have just wrapped up, here are a few facts you didn’t know about the Olympic games.

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It was about three thousand years ago when the first Olympic Games took place. The events were originally part of a religious festival to honor Zeus. Men tested their strength and skills with foot races and throughout the years, more games were added like wrestling, disc throwing and spear throwing. Today, the 2016 Rio Olympic Games have reached twenty-eight different sports and more than 200 nations compete.

Olympic medals were given to those in the arts.

From 1912 to 1948, medals were awarded to artists who depicted works of art inspired by sport. These art competitions were divided into five categories, which included architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. Amateur artists were able to submit works of art and be judged by a panel of professionals. However, in 1954, the art competitions were abandoned because artists were considered professionals, while athletes in the Olympics were required to be amateurs. Although medals were stripped from countries that won, the International Olympic Committee created the Cultural Olympiad – a series of events that brings artists to present their work and takes place in the buildup of the Olympics.

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Tug-of-war was an Olympic sport.

From 1900 to 1920, tug of war events were held at the Olympics. Although it is now considered a separate sport, it was once tied into the track and field athletics program. In fact, the sport was part of the Ancient Olympics in Greece, first being held in 500 BC. Countries were able to enter multiple teams, which is how the United States won all three of the medals back in 1904. Great Britain was the last country to win a medal in the sport back in 1920.

Women made up 44 percent of the athletes in the Olympic games in 2012.

The London Olympic Games in 2012 saw the highest percentage of women participants ever. According to the International Olympic Committee, the number of women participants will rise up to 45 percent in the 2016 Rio Summer Games. Women have come a long way when participation in the Ancient Olympic Games was limited to only men. The first time women participated was at the 1900 Paris Games with the inclusion of women’s events in lawn tennis and golf. Gymnastics debuted in 1928, along with other games added over the years. In 1996, a women’s only sport was introduced – Softball, however it is no longer part of the games. And in 2000, women were finally able to compete in the Olympics in weightlifting.

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Refugees who have fled their countries will be allowed to compete in the Olympics.

According to Olympic.org, ten refugee athletes will compete for the Refugee Olympic Team, the first ever, and will “act as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis.” Like all other teams competing, the ROT will have it’s own entourage and must meet all required technical needs of athletes. The ten athletes comprise of individuals who have fled from Syria, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.

Gold medals aren’t actually solid gold.

Gold medals have not been actual solid gold since 1912. Today, all winners receive medals that are 93 percent silver and 6 percent copper, with just 6 grams of gold. According to History.com, winners in the first modern Olympics in 1896 received silver, not gold, medals. The gold, silver and bronze medals to the top three finishers weren’t actually awarded until it began in 1904.

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The first Olympian to fail a drug test was busted for drinking alcohol.

Drug testing in the Olympics debuted back in 1968, and Swedish pentathlete Hans-Gunnar Liljenwall was the first competitor to test positive for a banned substance. However, it was not drugs that he tested positive for, but two beers, which he argued he downed to “calm his nerves” before the pistol shoot. Liljenwall and his teammates had to give back their bronze medals.

Figure skating and ice hockey were once part of the Summer Olympics.

The Winter Games did not begin until 1924, and so men’s, women’s and pairs figure skating events were part of the programs for the 1908 and 1920 Summer Olympics. Ice hockey made its debut in the 1920 Summer Games.

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