12 Fun Facts About the Olympics

With the Tokyo Olympics underway, we wanted to revisit some of our favorite Olympics-related Question of the Day trivia from over the years. Quiz yourself or challenge a friend or family member with these 12 fun facts.

Photo courtesy: Shutterstock

1. What's the motto of the Olympic games?

A. Faster Higher Stronger
B. Be Best
C. Celebrating Man's Greatest Achievements
D. Hard Work Beats Talent

Answer: Faster Higher Stronger. The Olympic motto is made of three Latin words – Citius, Altius, Fortius – which translate to "Faster Higher Stronger." The Olympic creed takes it a step further: "The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well." (Sure, but try telling that to those who don't win gold!)

Image courtesy: Le Cartophilion

2. Olympic gold medals are made from which metal?

A. Gold
B. Copper
C. Silver
D. Nickel

Answer: Silver. Despite its name, the Olympic gold medal is mostly silver. Current requirements state that gold medals must be made from at least 92.5% silver, but also must contain a minimum of 6 grams of gold. The last Olympic gold medal that was made from solid gold was awarded at the 1912 Summer Games in Stockholm.

Photo courtesy: Town and Country Magazine

3. In a modern pentathlon, four of the five components are swimming, fencing, shooting, and running. What's the fifth component?

A. Archery
B. Cycling
C. Equestrian jumping
D. Cross country skiing

Answer: Equestrian jumping. In the ancient Olympic Games, the pentathlon included the long jump, javelin throwing, discus throwing, running, and wrestling. However, the modern pentathlon focuses on the skills required by a late 19th century soldier, which involves horses, running, swimming, fencing, and shooting.

Image courtesy: TeamUSA.org

4. Which athlete holds the record for winning the most Olympic medals in history?

A. Larisa Latynina
B. Carl Lewis
C. Nadia Comăneci
D. Michael Phelps

Answer: Michael Phelps. With 28 Olympic medals, American swimmer Michael Phelps has won more Olympic medals than any other athlete in history. Over four Summer Olympics – 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 – he won 23 gold, three silver, and two bronze medals.

Photo courtesy: Sports Illustrated

5. In the 1908 Olympics, what caused the Russian team to arrive late?

A. Airport security
B. Woodpeckers
C. Gregorian calendar
D. Hurricane

Answer: Gregorian calendar. Over 2,000 years ago, the Julian calendar was widely used, but didn't include leap years. As the calendar fell out of sync with the seasonal equinoxes, the Gregorian calendar was created, and adoption meant skipping 10 days to catch up. Russia was one of the very last countries to adopt the Gregorian calendar, and hadn't yet caught up by the 1908 Olympics.

Image courtesy: HistoryExtra.com

6. Between 1900 and 1920, which children's game was a team event at the Summer Olympics?

A. Tug-of-war
B. Hopscotch
C. Tetherball
D. Musical chairs

Answer: Tug-of-war. Teams consisted of six members in 1900, five members in 1904, and eight members in the last three Olympic appearances of the sport. Learn more about tug-of-war and other unusual Olympic sports in this article from Time magazine.

Photo courtesy: Time.com

7. Which country did Nadia Comăneci represent in the 1976 Olympics when she became the first gymnast in history to score a perfect 10?

A. Romania
B. Hungary
C. Italy
D. Russia

Answer: Romania. After becoming the first gymnast to receive a perfect score, Comăneci received six more perfect 10s, and won three gold medals. At the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, she won two more gold medals and attained two more perfect 10s.

Photo courtesy: Sports Illustrated

8. In which year did beach volleyball become an official Summer Olympic event?

A. 1992
B. 1996
C. 2000
D. 1988

Answer: 1996. Beach volleyball was introduced at the Summer Olympic Games in the 1992 Games as a demonstration event, and has been an official Olympic sport since 1996.

Photo courtesy: KHON2.com

9. The biathlon is a winter sport and Olympic event that combines cross-country skiing with which other sport?

A. Ski jumping
B. Rifle shooting
C. Running
D. Swimming

Answer: Rifle shooting. In Scandinavian countries, the biathlon was historically promoted by the government in order to promote civilian marksmanship in support of national defense. And it first became an Olympic event in 1924.

Photo courtesy: The Washington Post

10. In 1994, the Winter Olympics were held in the town of Lillehammer in which country?

A. Denmark
B. Germany
C. Sweden
D. Norway

Answer: Norway. Lillehammer is a ski resort town in southern Norway. The city center is a late 19th century concentration of wooden houses, creating a picturesque location overlooking parts of lake Mjøsa and the river Lågen, surrounded by mountains.

Lillehammer photo courtesy: Trip Savvy

11. In the first modern Olympics held in 1896, which prizes did the first place winner receive?

A. Silver medal and olive branch
B. Two horses
C. Gold medal and a wreath crown
D. Nothing

Answer: A silver medal and olive branch. The gold, silver, and bronze medals that we know today as the prizes for first, second, and third place weren't distributed until the third modern Olympic games, held in 1904 in St. Louis.

Image courtesy: Getty Images

12. Which of the following colors isn't found on the Olympic flag?

A. Black
B. Yellow
C. Green
D. Purple

Answer: Purple. The Olympic flag consists of a white banner with five rings, one each that is blue, yellow, black, green and red. The colors were chosen because they incorporated the colors of all national flags in existence at the time the Olympic flag made its debut, in 1914. Learn more about the history of the Olympic flag in our recent article.

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