expand your olympics knowledge with these 5 fascinating facts

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The 2022 Winter Olympics are wrapping up this week – but it’s not too late to learn all about the Games 🤯 and how they’ve changed throughout history.

And if you’re feeling down, don’t fret: another Olympics is just around the corner. The 2024 Summer Olympics, to be held in Paris 🇫🇷, kicks off on July 26, 2024. The next winter edition, in 2026, will take place in the Italian 🇮🇹 cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

If you want to get a jump on your hotel reservations – might we suggest an illumy international calling plan? For $9 a month, you get unlimited calling to France, Italy, and 46 other countries. It’s a gold-medal deal on international calling (sorry).

The Olympics went on pause for about 1,500 years.

The very first Olympics were held in Greece in the 8th century BCE, and they were wildly popular 🙌. Olympics were held quadrennially for about 1,200 years.

But, in 393 CE, the Greek emperor Theodosius I banned all pagan festivals. Because the Olympics celebrated Zeus ⚡️ (as well as athletic prowess), they got the axe…

…until the turn of the 20th century, when they were resurrected. The first Olympics in 1,500 years took place in Athens in 1896.

Past Olympics featured a more diverse slate of events.

The earliest Olympics featured some events we know today, like running 🏃‍♀️ and discus 🥏. But they also included combat ⚔️.

The modern Olympics have seen many other events come and go. In the 1900 Paris Olympics, hot air ballooning 🎈 was an event — the first and only time that happened. Dueling with pistols 🔫 and tug-of-war 🥵 took place around the same time, only being discontinued in 1908 and 1920, respectively.

Even rope climbing 🧗, solo synchronized swimming 🏊, and tandem bicycle 🚴‍♂️ were once on the cards.

Incredibly, art 🎨 was an Olympic event, as well. Between 1912 and 1948, sculptors, musicians, writers, and painters aimed to medal in their respective fields.

The motto for the 2022 Winter Olympics is a panda.

Pandas are not only beloved in China — they’re a major cultural export. Zoos around the world pay to receive pandas on loan for 10-year terms (at which time they are bundled back home 🇨🇳).

A panda is also the centerpiece of this year’s Winter Olympics. The mascot for the Beijing Olympics is a cartoon panda 🐼 named Bing Dwen Dwen – which translates to “lively ice.” (Bing is ice and dwen dwen means lively.)

Bing Dwen Dwen represents childlike wonder, says the International Olympic Committee. And these Olympics are about looking to the future 👀 in more ways than one. The 2022 Winter Olympics’ official motto is “Together for a Shared Future.”

A gold medal might fund your flight home — in economy.

All the medals awarded at the Olympic Games weigh about a pound. But a gold medal isn’t solid gold. Instead, most of it is silver.

A gold medal 🏅contains just 1% gold, which, if you were to smelt it, would be worth about $800.

So, while winning gold is a great honor, it won’t pay for much more than a single international flight (if that). Want to check a bag 🧳? You’ll have to pony up for that on your own.

Some, but not all, Olympics venues are repurposed.

Hosting an Olympics is not cheap. This year’s version has a budget of about $4 billion — and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics dwarfed that figure 😳 with an outlay of $50 billion.

But Russia actually may have spent its money wisely. Before 2014, Sochi was a low-key summer resort town. Today, it’s a booming year-round destination: even hosting high-profile events like Formula 1 races 🏎️ and the 2018 World Cup ⚽.

Some other countries have followed Russia’s lead. London’s 🇬🇧 Olympic Stadium, built in 2012, is now the home of the West Ham soccer team. Sydney’s 🇦🇺 Olympic Park, built in 2000, is an event destination attracting 12 million visitors a year. And Atlanta’s 🇺🇸 Centennial Olympic Park, built in 1996, has become a thriving downtown park.

Not every country has been so successful in reusing its Olympics venues. Rio de Janeiro 🇧🇷 has seen many of the facilities built for the 2016 Summer Games fall into disrepair.

What event were you most excited about this year? Let us know on the socials @illumyinc 😊

Photo by Todd Trapani on Unsplash.

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