25 Things You May Not Know About The 2012 London Olympics
Example: Free condoms are provided to athletes in the Olympic Village.
Four billion viewers worldwide are expected to tune into the 2012 London Summer Olympics' opening ceremonies this Friday. London’s Big Ben and thousands of bells across the United Kingdom will ring for 3 minutes – starting at 8:12 a.m. that day – to welcome and kick-off the games.
Excitement is palpable as patriotism and competitive athleticism, once again, prepare to collide. Do we root for Team Phelps or Team Lochte in the pool? Will Hope Solo and her U.S. teammates be able to win that coveted gold in soccer? Will the United States continue to win more medals than any other country?
And, most importantly – Is NBC moderator Bob Costas really as short as he looks?
Some of these answers you’ll have to figure out on your own. But I will share with you that Bob Costas is 5 feet, 7 inches tall (and 61 years old, if you were wondering about that detail, too).
Here are some other interesting tidbits, which inquiring Olympic aficionado minds might want to know, that I culled from the UK Sun and Parade Magazine:
- London is the first city to host the Olympics three times – 1908, 1948 and 2012.
- The Olympic games will last 17 days.
- Athletes from 205 nations will participate.
- The Olympic symbol of five interlocking rings represents the five inhabited continents. The colors of the rings were determined because every nation’s flag uses at least one.
- The Olympic motto is citius, altius, fortius – Latin for faster, higher, stronger.
- Traditionally, Greece’s athletes are first to enter the stadium in the opening ceremonies.
- The gold medal is mostly made of silver. Only 1.3 percent of it is made of gold.
- More than 2,100 medals will be presented in 302 ceremonies.
- The London Philharmonic has recorded the national anthems of all 205 nations. Uruguay’s anthem runs about six and a half minutes long; Uganda’s is only nine bars. Some anthems had to be cut so as not to exceed a minute.
- Olympic announcements are always made in English, French and the host’s language.
- The Olympic mascot is named Wenlock, after a village in England. Writer Michael Morpugo wrote a story about Wenlock that is portrayed in a film. Wenlock also has an official song – “On a Rainbow,” recorded by McFly star, Tom Fletcher and his sister, Carrie.
- A total of 9.6 million tickets are for sale. A sell-out rate of 83 percent is anticipated. And, 78 percent of spectators are expected to come from London.
- The Olympic Village will house 10,500 athletes. Some of the rooms will have extra-long beds for the taller athletes.
- Free condoms are provided to athletes in Olympic Village. This practice started at the 1992 Barcelona Games. At the 2000 games, 70,000 condoms were provided, which were quickly used up. Athens, who hosted in 2004, learned from this mistake and supplied 130,000.
- The Olympic authority has aimed to use 90 percent recycled building materials. Organizers have cut carbon emissions by 100,000 tons. Also, 20 percent of the site’s energy will come from renewable sources. All food on the Olympic site will be served in compostable containers.
- All sports equipment used in the games will later be donated to charities.
- London 2012 will be the first live 3D Olympic Games. This will also be the first Olympics offering HDTV freeze-frame coverage.
- The only Olympic sport in which men and women compete on equal terms are the equestrian events.
- Baseball and softball were dropped as Olympic sports for these games. There was a movement to add karate and squash instead, but neither garnered enough support. Golf and rugby will be added for the 2016 Summer Games.
- The aquatics center can seat 17,500 people. It won’t smell like chlorine, though, due to the 13 high-tech filters that will clean the water.
- There will be big fines for streaking. The London police say they will hand out fines up to $30,000 for anyone who attempts to engage in such activity.
- Soviet gymnast Larysa Latynina holds the highest medal count of any Olympian. She racked up 18 total (nine gold, five silver and four bronze) during the years 1956 to 1964.
- If U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps wins at least three medals during these games, he will trump that record. He currently has the record for most golds to his name with 14 (and zero silver and two bronze) but trails Latynina in total medal count.
- All athletes who participate in the Olympics must first pledge, “In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honor of our teams.” (Beginning in 2000, the mention of doping and drugs got added to this pledge.)
- The world’s largest McDonalds was built for these Olympic Games. It’s 32,292 square feet – roughly the size of half the length of a football field – and will have seating for 1,500 people and employ 500 workers. It will be disassembled six weeks after the games conclude.